Convention Retention

Between resonating attacks on Barack ObamaâÄôs celebrity and substantiality, and polls indicating John McCain had carved hefty inroads among disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters (some showed upwards of 25 percent of Clinton supporters lining up behind the Arizona senator) it had become evident that the Democrats needed to take full advantage of their days in Denver. To achieve anything short of reigniting ObamaâÄôs message of âÄúchange,âÄù answering calls for its specification, and reclaiming what the media made out to be a resentful and alienated Clinton faction would be to risk electoral failure. After curtains fell on the opening day of the Democratic National Convention, it was apparent that Obama was not content with Republicans defining his charisma. Instead he resurrected its positive perception by evoking the inspirational spirits of former presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Caroline Kennedy asserted that âÄúeverywhere I go âĦ people tell me that Barack Obama is making them feel hopeful the way they did when my father was president.âÄù Then there was that slightly awkward, albeit effective 21st century âÄòCamelotâÄô moment, where a big-screen Obama appeared to laud his wifeâÄôs speech and wish his daughters goodnight. For anyone tuned into cable punditry, however, Monday night was small potatoes; everyone was holding their breath for Tuesday nightâÄôs headliner, Hillary Clinton, whose fervent supporters were foaming at the mouth to supplant the nomination usurper, Obama. While some media exaggerated the PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) dissent in a ratings ploy that routinely hovered between reporting reality and creating it, Hillary made a strong case for unity just as expected, urging âÄúno way, no how, no McCain.âÄù Sorry PUMAs, this doesnâÄôt mean HillaryâÄôs holding out for Bob Barr. President Bill ClintonâÄôs speech on Wednesday night made, âÄúin no uncertain terms,âÄù an equally electrifying case for party unity, and went on to passionately argue for the restoration of the United StatesâÄô image abroad, remarking, âÄúpeople the world over have always been more impressed with the power of our example, than by the example of our power.âÄù By Wednesday night, however, many Democrats were hungry for some red meat. If anything was missing from the convention thus far, it was a strong line of attack. Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Joe BidenâÄôs acceptance speech proved the candidate fully capable of first-rate mud-slinging, as he took McCain to task on proposed corporate tax cuts, renewable energy and outsourcing. Biden also lambasted McCain for his Dubya-lockstep voting record (alleging a 95 percent complicity rate) amongst a sea of bobbing red signs reading âÄúMcCain âĦ The Same.âÄù At one point, he even let the name âÄòGeorgeâÄô slip out when referring to McCain. Biden, notorious for his unwieldy tongue, wasted no time in explaining the gaffeâÄôs Freudian nature, and the crowd lapped it up. All of this was overshadowed by ObamaâÄôs historic speech at INVESCO Field, which, indicative of the populist outpouring in Denver last week, was referred to instead as âÄúMile High Stadium.âÄù Fittingly, Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for president on the anniversary of KingâÄôs âÄúI Have a DreamâÄù speech. Noticeably short on racial rhetoric âÄî as if that theme needed any fuel for fire âÄî Obama delivered an uplifting call for American resolve in the face of a weakening economy, failing foreign policy and climate change. Directly responding to claims that his âÄúchangeâÄù was nothing but fluff, Obama laid out specifics, especially on taxes, where he promised relief for 95 percent of working families and made clear that no corporation practicing outsourcing would receive tax breaks. He hammered home the conventionâÄôs primary theme âÄî reclaiming the American Dream âÄî calling for our government to ensure opportunity for anyone willing to work. By curtain close on Thursday night, Obama had managed to salvage his charisma and refresh his image with a sincere and powerful speech. Bringing many to tears, Obama recaptured that magic he found seven months ago in Iowa. âÄîJohn Brown is an editorial board member. Please send comments to [email protected]