Monday, August 25, 2008

Convention Monday

It was the Kennedy family anointing the Obama family, with patriarch Teddy passing the torch. And the Obama family showing that the torch is in good hands.

The first of the Obama family to speak, and the one most ignored by commentators, was Barack's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng. First of all, none of them appeared to be thrown by speaking in that huge place, with an unimaginable TV audience. Maya is a history teacher, not a public figure. But she used the one phrase I will remember: "bounteous opportunity." It's a wonderful two word description of what has become the cliche-ridden American Dream. "Bounteous" as is abundance but also suggesting beauty.

Craig Robinson is a college basketball coach, so he's also used to speaking before people, but not in anything like this setting. He, too seemed comfortable, and he was effective. No one was more effective than his little sister, Michelle Robinson Obama. She has that star quality that jumps out at you. Maybe I'm old school, but her pace didn't vary--it was full speed ahead (which apparently it had to be, as PBS brutally cut off its coverage in the middle of Barack's video appearance afterwards.) Otherwise, she was perfect. Malia and Sasha were great, too. Malia looks like she's going to be at least as beautiful as her mother. Here's a fine Salon article that describes her speech and the reception.

Michelle's mother was a prominent voice in the video about her, and once again, she was very poised and effective. A family with a great American story, but an extraordinary and admirable family, too, if that's allowed without seeming "elitist."

Earlier, Ted Kennedy rallied the troops and passed the torch. "The dream will never die" (1980, when I campaigned for him in PA) became "the dream lives on." The memories that the speech and the Ken Burns docu that preceded it inspired were just about exhausting. I do feel emotionally drained by the evening, possibly because of all the times the dream has been deferred, and derided. Just like all the carping and nonsense coming out of the media, focus groups, GOPer ads and bitter Hillaryites. Or possibly because I didn't get enough sleep, and I have a card loaded with crap for the recycling center, sitting on a flat tire I have to deal with tomorrow.

I didn't watch the gab earlier in the day, but I gather a lot was about the Hillaryites. I doubt there's going to be much conflict visible at the convention, but the prospect of it might get people to watch who might not otherwise. Good for the networks, and if things work out well, good for the Dems.

In the middle of all this I caught the story online--which was entirely ignored by TV--of the arrest of three men for drugs and weapons, who might be involved in a plot to assassinate Obama. There's a disconnect between what some are saying, what the police say, and what the coverage has been. Police have scheduled a press conference tomorrow in Denver. HuffPost has a story about assassination coming up in focus groups, and immediately turning views on Obama sour, and emboldening McCain supporters. It's obviously a flashpoint, an alternating current of alarm and denial, despair and hope, fear and courage.

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