By Teresa Welsh |
While imploring patience and extolling President Obama's efforts, former President Bill Clinton gave a passionate and effective rebuttal to last week's Republican National Convention. Beating back the rhetorical frame of disillusionment, he offered folk wisdom ("a broken clock is right twice a day") and "arithmetic." For 48 minutes, fact upon fact–accurate or exaggerated–poured forth from his speech. Drenching the delegates in flattering partisan comparisons, Clinton restored Democrats' faith in the party's long-standing principles and policy solutions.
Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama testified to Obama's strength of character and deep commitment to continue the change his presidency promised. They both told us that he was working hard and fretting mightily about the people's struggles and the nation's future. They told us he was not someone to ever count out and that we could trust him because they know him and they do. Translation: Democrats should continue placing their hopes in Obama.
Appropriately, the hope theme was most overtly present in Obama's speech. He framed anew his 2004 convention address ("I was a younger man…[I] spoke about hope") and joked about campaign attacks ("If you're sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me, so am I"). He also movingly highlighted the determination and resiliency of a few Americans who personify hope or what he called "that dogged faith in the future." Even though Obama provided little specificity and offered a limited vision of what his second term would entail, he did what he most needed to do: rouse his electoral base and place his first term into context.
As with Mitt Romney, Obama will surely enjoy some bounce in the polls among partisans who had been turned off by the summer's petty spats (e.g., eating dogs vs. mistreating dogs). Still, there's a long distance to travel before either candidate can credibly claim a significant electoral advantage.
Harkening back to last week, second quarter is over and the score's now tied at the half. How Obama and Romney come out of the locker room and approach this third quarter (September) will dictate the plays made during the final stretch (October). In short, 14-14 is awfully similar to 0-0.
About Lara Brown Assistant Professor at Villanova University
Zerlina Maxwell Democratic Strategist and Writer
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College