Obama comes out swinging, argues for a second term
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After a week that featured some soaring oratory—from keynoter Julian Castro to First Lady Michelle Obama to Bill Clinton—the bar at the Democratic National Convention tonight was set pretty high.
But, to the surprise of very few, Barack Obama met the bar and may have exceeded it. At least that’s what several Democratic Party activists thought, as they prepared for an election that all polls signal will be very close and whose outcome is very uncertain at this time.
Obama seemed to understand this and came out swinging.
Where Bill Clinton spoke Wednesday of Obama as a bipartisan figure reaching out to Republicans and being spurned, it was Obama on Thursday who came out swinging as the partisan figure. Much like the previous speakers who came from organized labor and the feminist and pro-abortion camps, the President rallied the base that is the modern Democratic Party.
Like Joe Biden earlier in the evening, Obama played the “class warfare” hand that has been coming out of the White House Press Office and in his speeches for weeks now. So in so many ways, the Democratic campaign will be a two-pronged approach: the “statesmanship” tactic demonstrated by Clinton last night, and the “us vs. them” approach demonstrated by several speakers leading up to Obama himself.
The president spoke of the vision in which “everyone plays by the same rules—from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, D.C.,” and how he believed it was “slipping away” from America. He tore into the Republicans — “our friends in Tampa” — saying their agenda is one of “feel a cold coming on, take two tax cuts, cut some regulations and call us in the morning.”
Obama left no doubt his belief in a strong role for government in the economy. Invoking the name of Franklin D. Roosevelt, father of the modern vision of a strong hand of the federal government, Obama called on Americans “to rebuild our economy on a stronger foundation.”
Calling for “a millon new manufacturing jobs in the next decade,” Obama also spoke of “redoubling our use of renewable energy.” And “unlike my opponent,” he vowed, “I will not let big oil companies write our energy plan.” He also embraced the global warming issue, declaring “climate change is not a hoax” but something that affects “our children’s future.”
The president also gave a not-so-subtle hint that foreign policy would be a major issue of debate between himself in Romney. He recalled how he ended the war in Iraq, and the inevitable “Osama bin Laden is dead.”
“My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy,” he said, who want to take us back to an era of “blundering and blustering.” Taking aim at Romney, he said one couldn’t deal with hostile rulers in China “when you go to Europe and insult our best ally.”
But, again, Obama returned to the theme of “the middle class” and, once again, said he vowed never to ask middle class Americans to give up their tax cuts “for a few billion dollars in tax cuts for millionaires.”
Speaking of the choice we face, he slammed the Romney-Ryan agenda for tax cuts and reform of Medicare and said “That’s not what this country’s all about.” In closing, Obama spoke of the election four years ago, that (it) wasn’t about me, it was about you” and “if you give up on the idea that your voice can make a differences, other voices will fill the void” — “lobbyists, (people) who will tell you who you can marry” and people who write checks to SuperPACs.
As Obama closed his remarks and the convention adjourned, it was obvious that—whether the issue was the economy, health care, gay rights, or foreign policy—this was a president who would seek re-election in the fighting style and rhetoric of Harry Truman in 1948. In so doing, Obama—and, indeed, the convention itself–made clear that Democrats in 2012 would rewire and trot out the “class warfare” rhetoric that typified Truman’s winning effort in 1948.
Earlier in the week, pollster John Zogby said that Obama “won’t get a ‘bounce’ (in the polls) tomorrow even if he gives one of the most stirring speeches of his career, which he is capable of doing.” His words would be dwarfed by the latest jobs figure, said Zogby. But for tonight, Obama did give at least one of the most stirring speeches of his career. And, judging from the reaction in Charlotte, Democrats and the left in general are mobilized.