The Next Few Weeks Should Be Interesting
Of the things I have recently learned, I would characterize several as "blinding glimpses of the obvious," that both President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney are smart enough to marry up, and that former President Bill Clinton knows how to hold a crowd far past the scheduled biological break.
Democrats ought to feel good about their convention. There were quite a few good speeches, highlighted by Michelle Obama's, and it seemed to me they conveyed the message of "we've done better than anyone could expect with the hand we were dealt in 2008."
I'm sure that having Bill Clinton as the key articulator of that position made a lot more folks tune in - though I thought it very interesting that when I went to review the Clinton remarks, his speech was not available on the Democratic National Convention official website. Strange.
This approach, in reality the only avenue available to the president, reminds me of one of my favorite stories of "advice."
The outgoing CEO of a big company tells his successor, "I left you three letters in the safe to open when times are tough." As they always do, times got tough, and the new CEO pulled out letter one. "Blame your predecessor," it said. Good advice - insufficient, though, as times again got tough. He pulled out letter two: "Blame your staff." But then times became tough again, and out came letter three: "Prepare three letters."
I thought the president's speech benefited from Clinton's setup. He was able to focus on the things his administration has accomplished and to forcefully hammer home his messages of "I didn't promise it would be easy, or quick, and we're all in this together." The latter point was made poignant by the inevitable contrasting of the multi-ethnic Democratic convention crowd with the generally monochrome one at the Republican convention.
I can't help but like listening to Bill Clinton. Those were damn good years. (I was a lot younger then, too, which colors my remembrance.) He knows how to make the wonkish interesting. And I like President Obama - and that he represents that America can accept people for who they are and not what they look like. Regardless of whose fault the financial meltdown was, the rebuilding task was daunting.
The bitter bickering that substituted for constructive debate we've endured during this administration gives me no confidence that either party really cares about America.
Whether or not we believe that the Democrats are the ones with plans to fix America, do we think they can execute them? Obama is no Bill Clinton when it comes to putting aside the anger and getting things done. But can we trust that Romney and the stone-throwing Republicans have the leadership skills and backbone to do the hard work either?
So, as one of the apparently small number of folks that have not made up their mind, the next seven weeks should be interesting as I wrestle through the angry rhetoric to find enough reason to let the president stay or let him go.
In my Aug. 26 column on Lance Armstrong giving up his fight against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and the resultant cheering for the fall of a man many considered too arrogant, I mischaracterized the comments by USA Today columnist Christine Brennan. As it is so easy to do, I read what I wanted to hear into her comments, not what she was saying. As someone who has spent many years covering Lance, she, too, was disappointed to learn of his capitulation.
Sorry about that, Christine, and thanks for getting in touch.
Frank Daniels III, part owner of The Pilot and cousin of Pilot Publisher David Woronoff, is the community engagement editor of The Nashville Tennessean. Contact him at fdanielsiii@ tennessean.com.
More like this story