Barack Obama: We are a Better Country Than This

Like everyone else on the planet tonight, I have an opinion about The Speech, too.

I thought it was fabulous. I especially thought he did an excellent job of keeping the soaring rhetoric he used for much of the primaries in check, choosing instead to modulate his delivery between rational substance and hard-hitting points. This is what was needed. Had he delivered another one of his incredibly inspiring but vague speeches, he would have been roundly criticized afterward. He needed to present the case and draw sharp distinctions between John McCain and himself.

I thought he did a magnificent job of delivering it.

The highlights for me?

Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land: enough! This moment, this election is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive.

How many of us are saying Enough! I know I am.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.

Great framing. He locked McCain right into Bush and handed him the 10% factor.

A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know.

This was one of my most favorite moments, because he brought the anger to the fore in a very, very subtle way. His voice, his inflection, the sarcasm, all of it. When he asked the question “A nation of whiners?” he asked it exactly the way I did — as if to say hey, wait a second. Whiners? What the hell, John McCain? And that is the right way to put it when so many in this country are deep in the hell of unemployment, medical bills, mortgage meltdowns and other disasters.

For over two decades, he’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy – give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is, you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own.

Well, it’s time for them to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America.

Another opportunity to draw the lines clearly between the two of them.

America, now is not the time for small plans.

The fierce urgency of now, in one short sentence.

I thought everything he said about foreign policy was perfect, particularly the challenge to debate temperament and following Osama to his cave rather than the gates of hell.

However, the area where he shined and where he really drove the point home was where he came to the question of his patriotism. He cut the bottom out of the Rove wedgies out there who want to make this an election over ‘small issues’, especially this call out:

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America, they have served the United States of America.

So I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

and this:

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that’s to be expected. Because if you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

The fierce urgency of now…

What Barack Obama did with his speech tonight was lay down a gauntlet, not only before the Karl Roves of the world, but also the Babingtons and Murdochs out there who intentionally use the mainstream press and broadcast outlets to twist his message into something ugly, something to reject, to belittle.

When Obama said “I get it…I’m not the likeliest candidate…” he is acknowledging what they have tried to do, and encourages those with ears to hear to overcome it.

Ending with the references to Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was perfect.

He left voters with a clear-cut choice: Continue on the way we have, or choose a different way. I’m certain that the different way will not please everyone, any more than his FISA vote pleased progressives, or that his alleged shift to the center has pleased the hardest-core of us who sometimes forget the war in the heat of the battle.

The fact of his candidacy signals change. The recognition by the world we live in that he is a leader and to be respected signals change. The 75,000 people at Invesco field who gathered to see him speak signal extraordinary change, amazing engagement.

Barack Obama has made history by winning the nomination, he made history in that stadium tonight, and he will make history in November. If we stand up, have an honest debate without the derision that has entered our political discourse in the past, and sort it all out, history will be made.

Congratulations, Democrats. I am proud to be one among you, and I’m proud to be a full supporter of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Let’s win this.

Full text of Obama’s speech

Excerpts from Sen. Obama’s Speech

Excerpts of the Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
“The American Promise”
Democratic National Convention
August 28, 2008
Denver, Colorado

As prepared for delivery

“Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story – of the
brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from
Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in
America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

“It is that promise that has always set this country apart – that
through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual
dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that
the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

“It is why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty
two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary
men and women – students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and
janitors — found the courage to keep it alive.

“We meet at one of those defining moments – a moment when our nation is
at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been
threatened once more.

“Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder
for less. More of you have lost your homes and more are watching your
home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive,
credit card bills you can’t afford to pay and tuition that is beyond
your reach

“These challenges are not all of government’s making. But the failure
to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and
the failed presidency of George W. Bush.

“America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.”


“This moment – this election – is our chance to keep, in the 21st
century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota,
the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick
Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we
love this country too much to let the next four years look just like
the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: “Eight is

“Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has
worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for
that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we’ll also
hear about those occasions when he’s broken with his party as evidence
that he can deliver the change that we need.

“But the record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety
percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but
really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush
was right more than ninety percent of the time? I don’t know about
you, but I’m not ready to take a ten percent chance on change


“You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

“We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays
the mortgage; whether you can put away a little extra money at the end
of each month so that you can someday watch your child receive her
diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were
created when Bill Clinton was President – when the average American
family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has
under George Bush.

“We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of
billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether
someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a business, or
whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after
a sick kid without losing her job – an economy that honors the dignity
of work.

“The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we
are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country
great – a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.”


“That’s the promise we need to keep. That’s the change we need
right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if
I am President.

“Change means a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote
it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

“Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that
ship our jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that
create good jobs right here in America.

“I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the
start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

“I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all working families.
Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise
taxes on the middle-class.

“And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our
planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will
finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

“Washington has been talking about our oil addiction for the last
thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them.
In that time, he’s said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for
cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels.
And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator
McCain took office.

“Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling
is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.

“As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean
coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll
help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the
future are built right here in America. I’ll make it easier for the
American people to afford these new cars. And I’ll invest $150 billion
over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind
power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an
investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs
that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced.”


We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So
don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me
that Democrats won’t keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has
squandered the legacy that generations of Americans — Democrats and
Republicans – have built, and we are to restore that legacy.

“As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation,
but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission
and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle
and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

“I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against
al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military
to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct
diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. I will
build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century:
terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate
change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing so that
America is once more the last, best hope for all who are called to the
cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a
better future.”

[emphasis mine, on those points that I most liked]

DNC – Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Some things change; some things stay the same. The constants are good. Howard Dean is staying on as the chair of the DNC.

However, as of yesterday, no contributions from lobbyists or PACs will be accepted by the DNC. Senator Obama announced it on the campaign trail today in Bristol, VA. Chairman Dean’s statement:

“Our presumptive nominee has pledged not to take donations from Washington lobbyists and from today going forward the DNC makes that pledge as well,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said in a statement. “The American people’s priorities will set the agenda in an Obama Administration, not the special interests.”

I made a vow that I would make a contribution to the DNC when they did the right thing. To me, “the right thing” was sorting out the Michigan and Florida delegate debacles, and standing up to the political machine of the Clintons through the entire primary season.

Yesterday’s announcements, along with the RBC meeting on Saturday, satisfied both of those requirements. I have made my donation to the DNC today and hope you will, too.

What does ‘participate’ mean?

As I mentioned last night, the meeting of the RBC today is meaningless. Harold Ickes, in high dudgeon, dramatically reserved Senator Clinton’s right to ‘take the Michigan compromise to the credentials committee.”

Clinton supporters, in addition to being incredibly rude and unruly, are unhappy that Obama was given ANY delegates in Michigan, just as I suspected. Everything turns on the Four State Pledge signed by all candidates where they agreed to this paragraph:

THEREFORE, I _______________, Democratic Candidate for President, pledge
I shall not campaign or participate in any state which schedules a presidential
election primary or caucus before Feb. 5, 2008, except for the states of Iowa,
Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, as “campaigning” is defined by
rules and regulations of the DNC.

Everything turns on the word “participate”. A couple of facts:

  1. Michigan automatically adds names to their ballot for their primary on the day that candidates declare their candidacy. Michigan also has a rule allowing candidates to remove their names from the ballot.
  2. Florida does not have a similar provision allowing candidates to remove their names from the ballot. Once names are there, they’re there.

Participate has an active and passive definition. The active definition is “be involved in; enter a race; enter an agreement; enter negotiation;” The passive definition is to ‘become a participant’ by default (e.g., having one’s name added to a ballot)

If one does not actively pursue adding their name to the ballot, then the term ‘to participate’ has to be interpreted as leaving it there.

Therefore, the only way to stay consistent with the pledge was to withdraw their name from the ballot. Further, voters for Edwards, Obama and Biden were urged by the Michigan Democratic party to vote ‘uncommitted’ to express their preference for unlisted candidates. They did so, with the assumption that either no votes would count, or their ‘uncommitted votes’ would be allocated to some candidate in some fashion later on.

For anyone to argue that Obama wasn’t entitled to any delegates is simply dishonest. For any DEMOCRAT to argue for voter’s rights while simultaneously moving to disenfranchise 238,000 Michigan voters proves the cynical basis for the original argument.

Obama needs 68 delegates to reach the now-firm delegate number of 2118. He will likely win 43-45 after the final primaries. He only needs 28-30 superdelegates to reach the nomination. If an additional 40 superdelegates make a public commitment, the threat of the credentials committee appeal will be irrelevant.

It would be good for Hillary Clinton to be gracious on Tuesday night. It would certainly go far toward healing the very large breach and softening me toward her and her rude, obnoxious supporters who were so incredibly harsh in Washington DC today.

It would be good, but don’t hold your breath.

For more info about the credentials committee, see my post on Delegate Voodoo.

Congratulations to DNCC Credentialed Bloggers!

As much as I would have loved for this blog to be on the list, I am impressed with the list of bloggers that were given press credentials by the DNCC. Many of my “must-reads” are on there, including BlogHer, Jack and Jill Politics, Crooks and Liars, MOMocrats,, Digby’s Hullabaloo, Firedoglake, MyDD, Obsidian Wings, Pam’s House Blend, RuralVotes and more.

I’m going to create an aggregated feed of their blogs to add to a page here so you can get up-to-date info when the convention starts.

Congratulations to all! It’s going to be an event we’ll not soon forget. History will be made.

Memo to Old Guard Party Hacks

In response to your memo of 5/2/2008:

Hillary Clinton is not running against John McCain today. She is running against Barack Obama, for the nomination for President so that one or the other of them can then run against John McCain.

Your argument is a lemon. Indiana and North Carolina don’t need any lemons. They need facts.

Lemon Fresh
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