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August 02, 2004 - Image 10

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2004-08-02

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Democratic National Convention
Hit or Miss? Winners and Losers from Boston







Republicans have Ronald Reagan;
Democrats have Bill Clinton. On
Monday, the greatest living hero
of the Democratic Party set Boston's Fleet
Center afire as he delivered a speech that
was simultaneously humorous yet serious.
At the core of his speech was a crucially
important task: to draw a clear line
between Democrats and Republicans; to
define the differences between Kerry and
Bush. He did this, however, with a liberal
dose of humor. Pointing out how he per-
sonally benefited from the tax cuts,
Clinton joked that "I thought I should
send them a thank you note - until I real-
ized they were sending you the bill." But
'Clinton's speech did more than just
remind America of his tremendous con-
versational charm, he was the first to
emphasize the Convention's overriding
theme: unity. Clinton showed that he
could effectively contribute to his party,
all while reaffirming his magnetic person-
ality that has made him so endearing.

The distinguished debutant from
Illinois, Barack Obama, was the
biggest winner of the week. The 34-
year old state senator and U.S. Senate can-
didate carved a wide niche for himself by
delivering what was arguably the best
speech given at the 2004 Convention.
Proving himself a master of rhetoric, his
repeated emphasis on the United States of
America drew thunderous applause and
reinforced the Convention's "one
America" theme. More than any one per-
son, Obama came across as genuine, a ris-
ing star inspired by a unabiding faith in
the American dream. So successful was
his speech that by the next day, Boston and
the Fleet Center were buzzing with specu-
lation about a future White House bid.

When you have little credibility to
lose, you really can say whatev-
er you want. On Wednesday, Al
Sharpton threw Kerry staffers into a pan-
icked frenzy when he went drastically off-
script and launched a 24-minute tirade
that riveted the Fleet Center audience.
Drawing on his past experiences as a
preacher, "Reverend Al" used a variety of
historical examples to address the strug-
gle for equal rights and explain African
American loyalty to the Democratic
Party. He won the most applause when he
directly responded to President Bush's
assertion that African American loyalty
was misplaced: "Mr. President, in all due
respect, Mr. President, read my lips: Our
vote is not for sale."

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Surprise, surprise - John Kerry
won and accepted the Democratic
nomination. Sarcasm aside, it is
surprising how well Kerry addressed
the Convention on Thursday night;
many have stated that his acceptance
speech was the best written, best deliv-
ered address of his career. It was expect-
ed that Kerry would captivate the
Democratic loyalists inside the Fleet
Center, but few anticipated that unde-
cided voters and television viewers
would be even slightly impressed.
However Kerry's history as a speaker is
less than spectacular, his last major
speech, announcing his vice presiden-
tial selection, was disastrously received.
This time, however, many coveted
"swing voters" responded favorably; a
group of reporters from The
Washington Post watched the speech
with two dozen undecided voters and
determined that "the Democrat clearly
helped himself."

Coreyof the DNCC


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In all honesty, there were no losers on
Monday night. Convention planners
intentionally loaded the first night's
line up with all the biggest stars in an
-effort to create momentum. Therefore,
when compared to superstars Al Gore,
Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D
- NY.), the aging and soft-spoken Jimmy
Carter was put at a disadvantage he could
do little about. Surprisingly, his speech
was one of the most strongly-worded of
the Convention; he called America's cur-
rent foreign policy a "virtually unbrokenj
.series of mistakes and miscalculations."
He painted the darkest picture of the
Bush Administration, calling the policy
of preemption "confused," and faulting
its actions for costing America "its repu-
tation as the world's most admired cham-
pion of freedom and justice." While this
rhetoric would surely have resonated well
with the crowd inside the Fleet Center,
energetic younger speakers overshad-
owed it. Even though his criticisms of the
Bush Administration were of the most
passionate convictions, he was unable to
-relay that passion to his audience.
Unfortunately for Carter, his moving
words fell by the wayside as he fell vic-
tim to his own age and demeanor.

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Heinz Kerry
Dull and duller. While Teresa might
have a feisty side - telling a
reporter to "shove it" earlier in the
week - her speech on Tuesday might
well have put the audience to sleep. Even
though dedicated delegates heaped prais-
es on Heinz Kerry, the fact remains: her
speech was boring and pointless.
Speaking at an excruciatingly slow pace,
John Kerry's wife rambled aimlessly
about a myriad of issues; it took her near-
ly half a speech to even mention John
Kerry. Her recollections of life in
apartheid South Africa could have served
as a platform to launch a statement on
freedom and liberty; instead, Heinz Kerry
delivered an oddly-worded message about
taking a stand and then quickly moved on
to a series of unrelated issues, including
Peace Corps volunteers and space probes.
Without direction or charisma, Heinz
Kerry's appearance can be described as
nothing short of disaster.

f everyone knows you as the cute
guy with an even cuter smile, it's
hard to be mean. When Edwards
tried to come off as tough on national
security and terrorism, all that pundits
and observers could do was issue a
patronizing "awww." While Edwards
was able to provide hard-hitting rhetoric,
he was unable to effectively reconcile it
with his "nice guy" persona. More
unfortunate, however, was that Edwards'
speech failed to win approval from even
the dedicated Democrats inside Boston's
Fleet Center. To be fair, Edwards had a
high standard to meet. Perhaps, his
speech was not well-received because it
failed to measure up to the powerful ora-
tory in his "Two Americas" speech from
the primaries. Arguably, if John Kerry
had delivered a similar speech, there
would not have been collective disap-
pointment; Edwards was a victim of his
own skill.

es, John Kerry is also a loser.
While he delivered a marvelously
worded speech (thus, he's a win-
ner), he failed to define a vision, set an
agenda or say anything he hasn't been say-
ing for months (thus, he's a loser).
Entering into his most important speech of
his career, pundits unanimously agreed
that Kerry had to convey a sense of con-
sistency amid accusations of being a "flip-
flopper" and to better define his platform.
While an acceptance speech is not sup-
posed to be filled with the intricacies of
policy, Kerry failed to offer more than
sweeping, generic promises that he might
not be able to keep. He vowed energy
independence, even though complete
independence from foreign oil is a mere
fantasy. He also said he would stop the
outsourcing of jobs - a virtual impossi-
bility in a globalized economy where
developing nations offer significantly
cheaper labor. Voters were hoping for a
chance to become better acquainted with
the candidate's political views and instead
they received more stories about Kerry's
military past. Kerry missed a huge oppor-
tunity by failing to refute accusations
about his political stability on such a
national stage.

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