Democratic convention hoopla over, Obama now faces a reality check
In the cold light of a post-convention morning, President Obama got more discouraging news on US employment. Unlike 2008, he can't just speak aspirationally; he has a record to defend.
(Page 2 of 2)
And change? “You were the change,” he insisted, offering examples of how his election paved the way for policy changes that have affected real people – a sick child who now cannot lose her health insurance, a young undocumented immigrant who can now avoid deportation, a gay soldier who can now serve openly.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures The Democratic National Convention 2012
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Still, Obama’s speech Thursday night did not match the moment four years ago when he addressed a packed football stadium in Denver to accept his first presidential nomination. But how could it have? He is no longer the young senator poised to become the first black president, perhaps naively promising a new post-partisan politics. He is the sitting president, a bit grayer, a bit more care-worn, facing serious questions about his ability to navigate a hyper-polarized Congress in a second term.
The threat of rain that moved Obama’s acceptance speech in Charlotte out of another football stadium probably saved him from more direct comparisons with Denver. And the fact that it indeed poured rain here late Thursday afternoon cooled speculation that perhaps he could not have filled Bank of America Stadium, a point his campaign hotly denied.
So how did the two conventions stack up?
Both came off largely as infomercials, designed to put on display the parties’ best talent and present a picture of party unity even where it doesn’t exist.
In Tampa, the Republicans failed to paper over the fact that the libertarian-leaning wing of the party, centered in the candidacy of Ron Paul, was unhappy that the Texas congressman’s delegates were never formally counted. In Charlotte, the Democratic left wing’s sense of betrayal by Obama’s capitulation on the still-open Guantanamo Bay prison camp and the bailout of Wall Street was on display on the streets around the convention and in the reports of sympathetic alternative media.
Both conventions also failed to pull off scripted perfection, to the relief of the media hordes hungry for actual news.
In Tampa, actor Clint Eastwood’s bizarre conversation with an “invisible Obama” in an empty chair – telecast live during prime time – overshadowed Mr. Romney’s acceptance speech. In Charlotte, the Democratic platform’s lack of reference to God or Israel as Jerusalem’s capital gave Republicans a talking point, and forced an awkward moment on the convention floor when the vote to fix the platform was rammed through, without the actual votes needed, it appeared.
Romney got little to no bounce from his convention, and with the less-than-sterling jobs report Friday morning, it’s not clear that Obama will get one either. And so the sprint to Election Day is on. Next up: four debates in October, three presidential and one vice presidential. Those represent the next opportunity for voters to see the candidates unfiltered. And if there are going to be any game-changers in the race, those are the best place to look.