It’s A Hurricane Howdown in Convention Town!

I have been remiss in my political duties. I think I was the only (okay one of a few, I know my parents didn’t watch) person in America that didn’t watch coverage of the Democratic National Convention (DNC). And believe me, I didn’t mean for it to be that way. If it was really up to me, my face would have been planted right up against the television set with wide open ears and glassy eyes. But alas, I was unable. Luckily I have the internet at my fingertips and I plan to catch up by watching the speeches online. I mean, if the idea of a compelling speech from John Kerry doesn’t make your ears tingle with curiosity, I don’t know what will.

I was, however, able to catch bits of Obama’s acceptance speech on August 28th. I taped the whole thing (yes, I still live in the Dark Ages of VHS and have not converted myself over to the Gods of Tivo, although I would like to!) and plan on watching the entire speech in the near future. The pieces I caught were downright inspiring. I was able to watch the first ten minutes and the last fifteen. Holy mother of orators Obama might as well have been accepting the keys to the White House. What I saw of him during the speech is what I saw in him four years ago while he was giving the keynote at the same convention. Conviction, exuberance, charisma, intelligence, and a true, unwavering belief in the American dream. He has come a long way since the 2004 DNC while taking large strides toward being a solid, electable Democratic candidate and the future president. Obama’s campaign has been incredible on so many levels – he has been able to excite and energize a huge number of voters across the country. Not just some voters, but all types of voters. I would like to think the reason for this is simple. Obama has been the man that has been able to give a voice to the large group of Americans who are frustrated with the direction in which our country is headed. Actually, where the country is at right now – not just in terms of foreign policy but with the domestic disaster that we are facing as well. Obama’s voice is clear and strong, it speaks intelligently and thoughtfully while staying straightforward and levelheaded. And most importantly, he seems to have the country’s best interest at heart. This couldn’t have been more obvious than during his acceptance speech when he said, “What the naysayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me; it’s about you” [full text available at]. That’s right. It has been and will continue to be our opinions, as voters, that shape these conventions and this presidential race. It will be our votes that will determine the winner of this election as well as the future of our country over the next four years. I hope that we as a nation, can and will chose wisely.

I veered a little off course, and I apologize. I promise to dedicate an entire post (if not more) to the strategy of Senator Obama’s campaign – both its effectiveness and its creativeness. What I’m most interested in are his slogans – “Change We Can Believe In” and “Yes We Can” – but that’s for another day.

What really inspired me to write this post was actually Hurricane Gustav. Hurricane Gustav? Am I crazy? With a connection like that, you would think so. But no, I’m not crazy, not even close. Last night I was driving and listening to Karel rant on about Senator McCain’s Vice Presidential pick of Govenor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. During his show the news would come on about every half hour and there was always something about Gustav. That’s when it hit me.

This year, the DNC had a great lineup of speakers. Former President Bill Clinton, Nobel Prize winner and former Vice President Al Gore, former Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry, Senator Hillary Clinton, and the list goes on. From my understanding, each of the speakers was able to hit the right notes and resonate the message of Obama’s campaign: change. All of last week it was on the news – the success of the DNC and its speakers. And Obama’s speech on the last day was like the cherry on top of a perfect ice cream sundae – especially with a viewer ship of over 38 million. That’s more people that watched his acceptance speech than the season finale of American Idol, and we all know how popular that show is!

Today marks the first day of the Republican National Convention (GOP) which is taking place in the Minneapolis – St. Paul, Minnesota area. Since Gustav has arrived on the map, there has been talk about changing around the GOP Convention schedule. It looks like Senator McCain might even give his acceptance speech via satellite. Unfortunately the convention didn’t start off with a bang, but more of a dull ‘pop.’ Mrs. Cindy McCain and First Lady Mrs. Laura Bush had the honor of kicking off the convention along with a few speakers on the current and future state of affairs in the Gulf States. I fully understand that with the hurricane coming ashore at the same time as the start of their convention, the Republicans feel as though this is a good time for them to show their commitment to the well-being of the country by attempting to focus on evacuation, relocation, and relief efforts for those affected by Gustav. I would like to add that I believe they are trying to evade (and make up for) another full scale (FEMA) disaster, especially as the three year anniversary of Katrina is upon us. While I see their plan and fully applaud them for focusing on the needs of those affected by the storm, I think Gustav is horrible for the Republicans and the GOP convention as a whole.

For the last several months, Obama and McCain have been neck-and-neck in the polls. Most of the time the difference in percentage points is equivalent to that of the poll’s margin of error. This my friends, means it’s a close one. In fact, anywhere you go you can hear people talking about how close the presidential race is and will be. I believe something a little different and I believe Gustav might even prove my point. While it has been close lately, I think by the time the final votes are tallied, it won’t be quite as close as everyone’s expecting. The DNC seemed to strike all the right chords with people this year. Like I said earlier, it was great speech after great speech. For a few days, most of America was paying close attention to what the politicians were saying. I believe America is still eager to hear what will be said at the GOP convention, but I have a feeling it won’t be nearly as riveting or Hollywood-esque as the DNC was. I believe this has to do with the hurricane. Right now, the RNC schedule is, according to their website, “revised.” It also asks visitors to “please check back for revised schedule information.” It seems silly, but people want to know! They want to have something to look forward to and get excited about, especially with the recent news of Palin being the VP pick. The American people don’t know Governor Palin and they want to know her – and this convention is the perfect platform to show her to the world. Instead, Americans will be getting a watered-down version of what is usually an exciting convention with a lot of hard-hitting speakers. I think that, versus the Democratic convention, the Republicans are looking at losing the interest of Americans as well as several percentage points in the polls. According to Gallup, McCain has already lost enough percentage points to put Obama in the lead by six percent! (Although the article says that after McCain’s VP announcement, he garnered more points. The day before his announcement, Obama lead his rival by eight points.)

So, my thoughts are these: if the RNC can’t pull it together to put on a rockin’ party the way the Democrats did, they’re looking at a slide down the poll percentage mountain thanks to Gustav. Unless they can find a way to put Palin on a pedestal and acquaint her to the world as squeaky clean and good for ALL Americans, which I think will be a tough feat. At one time it looked like McCain had a solid road paved into the White House, now he’ll have to really step it up to get back into the spotlight and back on the right track if he wants those keys.



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