I’ve been mulling over the President’s speech this past week at the DNC. The MSM appears to be pretty “meh” about it. I thought it was very good. However, my opinion counts for naught in the eyes of many in the center and on the right.
So let’s apply a little historical perspective, shall we? After the Great Depression had begun, FDR ran for re-election. He had made great improvement on the economy in his first term–unemployment went down 11% during his first term. However, it remained at 14% (yeah, consider that in terms of our 8 point something unemployment now….). So 1/4 of the populace was unemployed and FDR had improved it to 14%, still worse than what we face now and the American people were not happy with FDR. He had to fight like crazy to be re-elected. And thank God/FSM/Goddess he did.
And what did his Convention speech sound like? It was high level, inspirational…about what it is we want to be as country. Do we want to use government to fight inequality and the current economic hardship or not? The answer, according to FDR, was yes. Here’s a tiny portion of what he said.
We do not see faith, hope and charity as unattainable ideals, but we use them as stout supports of a Nation fighting the fight for freedom in a modern civilization.
Faith— in the soundness of democracy in the midst of dictatorships.
Hope—renewed because we know so well the progress we have made.
Charity— in the true spirit of that grand old word. For charity literally translated from the original means love, the love that understands, that does not merely share the wealth of the giver, but in true sympathy and wisdom helps men to help themselves.
We seek not merely to make Government a mechanical implement, but to give it the vibrant personal character that is the very embodiment of human charity.
We are poor indeed if this Nation cannot afford to lift from every recess of American life the dread fear of the unemployed that they are not needed in the world. We cannot afford to accumulate a deficit in the books of human fortitude.
Does that sound specific? Does that give specific steps that will be taken in order to right the economy? No. It tells us what he thinks the American people want government to be. It is as high level as a Presidential speech can get. I warrant the majority of Americans, if they listened too a speech given by FDR today, would not have any clue as to what he was meant. But that is a blog post about declining education in the U.S.
For now, suffice it to say that this is the approach that President Obama took. He kept it high level. He was confident in the way that he presented the role of Government. Not as the savior of our citizens but as a tool to reflect our values of charity and freedom, of equal opportunity and individual responsibility.
So let the David Brooks and Andrew Sullivan’s of the world bitch and moan about the lack of audacity in the President’s nomination acceptance speech. History shows us that it’s not necessarily the wrong tack to take nor is it a vice to approach our economic challenges on such high a level of discourse. FDR did it and he was pretty damn successful. Perhaps it will be the same for President Obama. After all, his speech could been audacious to the point of being full of blatant lies but then, that would mean he’s actually Paul Ryan in disguise–and clearly that is not the case. I’ll take an honest, formal and perhaps stiff, yet inspirational speech over a mendacious, insincere, and well acted piece of tripe, any day of the week.
HUGE h/t Tom Levenson at Balloon Juice