Democratic Convention 2008

The Opening Night Reviews Are In…

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For a roundup of Day One coverage of last night's conventioneering in Denver, go here.

The reviews for the Ted Kennedy tribute/appearance are generally (and unconvincingly, to my mind) good. Michelle Obama gets raves too, overall. Even former Rep. Jim Leach's family were not just underwhelmed by him (he may still be talking, actually) but wondering what the hell he was doing there in prime time on opening night.

I think Dem political operative James Carville was right when he bemoaned the lack of a message, of a sense of urgency, to last night's proceedings. I'm not a Democrat (or a Republican), so I'm not the target audience, but last night's weak proceeedings got to the core of my continuing disappointment with the party: They always talk a good game about helping the poor, creating a class-mobile America, and all that.

And yet they don't talk about stuff that might actually achieve any of that: School choice at every level (not just college); ending labor regulations at the low-end of the market (including the minimum wage, which really socks young people and minorities by pricing them out of the labor market when they're just startin out); ending the war on drugs (which has turned poor urban neighborhoods into war zones and heavily policed areas); and more. Even the talk on Iraq was muted and full of hooey: There were more than a few of us who saw Iraq as a non sequitur from the War on Terror before it unfolded. Most Democrats did not, and they don't have a compelling reason to be against the war other than that it didn't go well. Obama is different than Joe Biden in that case (the latter a big hawk at the start) and it will be interesting to see if they lay out a foreign policy that isn't just about not intervening if you're not going to win in a rout.

I realize this is basically just a libertarian's lament: Why can't the Dems give me what I want (or the GOP, for that matter). But just who is going to decide this election anyway? Both candidates are polling under 50 percent and there's that 10 percent to 15 percent who can swing just about everything.

No doubt, this convention will have been a success when Obama pulls off his open-air sermon on the last night. It's likely to be inspired spectacle that may even be inspiring to those of us not already in the tank for him. But so far, thank god for cable TV and remote controls.

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  1. This is starting to look a whole lot like 2004. The Democrats have a mental block about winning, it is almost pathetic. Its like they WANT to lose.

  2. It’s likely to be inspired spectacle that may even be inspiring to those of us not already in the tank for him.

    I seriously doubt it. Obama has gone from “crossing the aisle hope and change” to “born-again progressive hope and change”. Now would be the time to switch tracks for the general campaign. We’ll see, but even if there is a new tone I doubt it will resonate with us libertarians.

  3. The Democrats are going to do what they always do: tack to the center, piss off their base, disillusion their supporters with compromises, and end up being Republican Lite.

    Hopiness and Changery are dead in the water. I eagerly await the tears.

  4. Epi,
    Maybe, but Obama has something no Democrat has ever had before; An endorsement from Oprah.

  5. The Democrats could turn even Oprah into a loser.

  6. Hopey McDreamy is beginning to remind me of an ephemeral cloud-like Star Trek alien. I eagerly await the day he assumes his actual solid form and the mass slaughter and consumption of humans commences.

    You get the alien overlords you deserve, after all.

  7. and they don’t have a compelling reason to be against the war other than that it didn’t go well… Good call. Now if only Obama would grow a pair and speak a little louder about it. Since most of the rest of his colleagues in the party failed to recognize the moral failure of pre-emptive war, I doubt that’ll happen.

    That being said I think last night appeared weak because the Obama camp feels a little pinned into a corner on the issue of his “American roots” and his upbringing. It’s sad, but I think they felt forced to show the country they’re a normal family instead of devoting the night to taking down the GOP. Tonight, they have to get over the party unity hurdle. I kind of find myself wishing they’d just say screw it and just beat McCain to a pulp (figuratively, of course).

  8. There were more than a few of us who saw Iraq as a non sequitur from the War on Terror before it unfolded. Most Democrats did not,and they don’t have a compelling reason to be against the war other than that it didn’t go well.

    Bullshit!

    58% of the Democrats in Congress voted against the AUMF – in the poison political atmosphere of 2002. Many of those who did were warning against taking precipitous action on the grounds that it would distract from Afghanistan and al Qaeda – and Democratic voters were even more opposed to the war than Congressional Democrats. Oh, by the way, we just nominated a guy who, like the overwhelming majority of us, were against this war before it ever began, and we had any idea of how well it was going to go.

    Yeah, whatever, Nick. Libertarians – who were a hell of a lot more evenly divided on whether to support the war than liberals – are the only ones with a philosophical objection to the Iraq War. Tell us another one.

  9. Obama has something no Democrat has ever had before; An endorsement from Oprah

    I know we love to play up how powerful Oprah is for the lulz, but really, it doesn’t mean much. Fat housewives will be too busy scoring another package of bon-bons to get out and vote. You’ve all seen Married With Children, people. Do you think Peggy would actually vote?

  10. Since most of the rest of his colleagues in the party failed to recognize the moral failure of pre-emptive war… As evidenced by their vote against it by a 58-42% margin, I guess.

  11. If true (I have no idea) joe has a major win there.

  12. Saying the war was bipartisan is a myth the media creates to cover its own ass with its complicity in the uber-patriotic build up.

    MSM:

    “WHOOPS! BIG BIRD MAKES MISTAKES! BUT OF COURSE EVERYONE WAS FOR IT!”

  13. The Democrats love to talk about hope and change, and then they roll out old fossils like Ted Kennedy.

    The Dems are the real party of the status quo: big taxes and even bigger spending.

  14. BDB,

    Absolutely everyone was in favor of the Iraq War, including the Democrats; AND YET, it was in not way politically risky or evidence of insight for Barack Obama to oppose it before it began.

    Hey, look over there: a Kenyan buying a half-decent salad mix!

  15. The Democrats love to talk about hope and change, and then they roll out old fossils like Ted Kennedy.

    You mean the guy who said, “The torch will be passed to a another generation of leadership?”

    Lame.

  16. Joe, anyone, anyone who opposed that war in 2002-2003 during that ridiculous build up should be given respect, even that old liberal pork whore Bobby Byrd.

    Anyone who mindlessly went along should not be taken seriously ever again.

    So, you can see why the media wants us to believe everyone was for it.

  17. Ohh, but there was such a patriotic ferver! We couldn’t help it! Tee-hee!

  18. I am a Democrat, but Democratic kitsch makes me gag, so I didn’t watch. Democrats are desperately vague on foreign policy, because they aren’t interested in it. Their policy is not to offend anyone. Domestically they are still in love with the myth of the New Deal, despite the fact that 1) it didn’t work all that well and 2) its goals are irrelevant to the 95% of Americans who are not poor.

    A party that doesn’t want to talk about the issues that do matter and does want to talk about the ones that don’t? No wonder it’s boring.

  19. joe sez:
    “58% of the Democrats in Congress voted against the AUMF.”
    “Libertarians – who were a hell of a lot more evenly divided on whether to support the war than liberals…”

    I know that “Democrats in Congress” does not equal “liberals,” but I’d be willing to bet that a lot fewer than 42 percent of libertarians supported the war.

  20. I am willing to bet that only a few Democrats actually supported the war because they thought it was necessary.

  21. Opposition to the war was a cross-ideological coalition of liberals, libertarians, and paleocons. No wonder we never had a consistent message to oppose it in 2002-2003!

  22. Citizen Nothing,

    I’m not arguing that most libertarians supported the war. I’m refuting the assertion that most liberals/Democrats did.

    But since we don’t have a meaningful sample of libertarians who cast votes on the AUMF, shall we use bloggers in their stead? Reynolds, Volokh, Sullivan, Cavanaugh, Postrel, Welch, M. Young, C. Young…

  23. To be fair joe, you’d have to throw in the paleo Rockwell bloggers as well.

  24. Oooh 58% opposed it. I guess that’s better than the 1% that opposed the PARTIOT Act, but it’s hardly a profile in bravery. Reynolds and Sullivan are hardly libertarians.

  25. Or better yet, check the percentage of “libertarian” congressmen who voted against the AUMF. Let’s see. One of one, for 100%.

  26. One of the worst mistakes of the anti-war movement was that it never used the old right effectively. They may be loony when it comes to Mexicans and Jews, but there are a lot of smart people in the Buchananite crew with regards to foreign policy.

  27. Sorry. My bad. Apparantly Paul voted FOR the AUMF. I grant this point to joe.

  28. A lot of people got stupid about Iraq. There’s no need to try and categorize them. Many have changed their minds, and that is okay.

  29. No, wait. I’m wrong again. Just ignore everything I say this morning.

  30. Epi-

    There was no, zero, nil excuse for the MSM to be as complicit as they were. They’re supposed to QUESTION government policy! They turned into cheerleaders. I’m still pissed about that.

  31. There was no, zero, nil excuse for the MSM to be as complicit as they were

    The MSM is a bunch of grade-A scumbags. If you have any faith in them whatsoever, you are a fucking moron (no offense).

  32. Epi, the MSM is usually only mildly retarded. From January 2002 to August 2005 they became profoundly retarded.

  33. As evidenced by their vote against it by a 58-42% margin, I guess.

    Alright, Joe – I’ll admit I didn’t know that was the margin. Still, that’s 42% who voted for a very obvious disaster. Nothing for the party to be at all proud of. Couple that with the fact that Hillary was nearly the nominee, and I just don’t see where the democrats can claim much of a high ground on Iraq. I would be happier if Obama took his own party to task for it, that’s all I’m saying.

  34. But just who is going to decide this election anyway?

    The same people who always decide elections. Dimwits who wake up on Election Day and vote for whichever the of the two clowns has better hair or “seems more honest.”

  35. Sorry. My bad. Apparantly Paul voted FOR the AUMF. I grant this point to joe.

    Ron Paul voted for the AUMF on Afghanistan. He voted against the AUMF on Iraq.

  36. Epi, the MSM is usually only mildly retarded

    Not true, they just don’t go Full Retard, because you never go Full Retard, and they know it. But it doesn’t mean they’re not close.

  37. 58% of the Democrats in Congress voted against the AUMF

    I hope you have a better example of moral cohones than a lousy fucking 58%.

    Like epi said, a lot of people got stupid about Iraq and I will admit that I was at the top of the list. The 8 weeks of “war” that it took to topple the taliban did not quench my thirst for vengence after 9/11. I can admit that.

    I wish I was smart enough to see Iraq as a non sequitur from the War on Terror before it unfolded. But now I am a little wiser and won’t make the same mistake again.

  38. “Ron Paul voted for the AUMF on Afghanistan. He voted against the AUMF on Iraq.”

    Thanks, Issac. Perhaps that accounts for my confusion. (There are other possible reasons for my confusion, but I’ll just stop typing now.)

  39. And yet they don’t talk about stuff that might actually achieve any of that

    That’s because they want to, y’know, win.

  40. The Democrats love to talk about hope and change, and then they roll out old fossils like Ted Kennedy.

    Yeah, if want me to believe that Democrats are nothing but morally craven (that is my new favorite word of the day) elitists, then role out Mr. Chappaquiddick.

  41. Absolutely everyone was in favor of the Iraq War, including the Democrats; AND YET, it was in not way politically risky or evidence of insight for Barack Obama to oppose it before it began.

    Obama opposed the Iraq adventure? Before it began? When he was a small-potatos Illinois hack? Big fucking deal.

    I opposed the war before it began too. You may commence your worship of me now.

  42. “Obama opposed the Iraq adventure? Before it began? When he was a small-potatos Illinois hack? Big fucking deal.

    I opposed the war before it began too. You may commence your worship of me now.”

    That would make me more likely to vote for you for president.

  43. So much partisan hackery on this thread. Heaven fucking forbid anyone drop some factual evidence in the way of a false-but-flattering statement about libertarians’ superiority.

    Fine, shoot the messenger. What was Bob Barr’s 2002 position on Iraq again?

  44. Not to indulge in partiasan hackery, but who would belive that Teddy K. has had a malignant brain tumor for 30 years. That’s the only logical way to explain his voting record (unless you want to include payoffs from unions and other ‘non-special’special interests.

  45. partisan damnit, partisan

  46. and they don’t have a compelling reason to be against the war other than that it didn’t go well… Good call. Now if only Obama would grow a pair and speak a little louder about it.

    Too late for that. It actually is going well, these days, and Obama has already admitted as much.

    I wish I was smart enough to see Iraq as a non sequitur from the War on Terror before it unfolded.

    See, I still don’t think it was, because, for once, I was on board with whole “attacking root causes” thing. The root cause of terrorism is a fundamentally dysfunctional Middle East, which feeds the violent wing of Islamist fanaticism with both bodies and talking points.

    There was, and still is, a good case that regime change in Iraq was our best option for making positive, generational-level change in the Middle East. There were some other things we could have done as well, of course, but the Middle Eastern dysfunction had already pretty well proven itself to be non-responsive to mere talking.

    Lots of room for disagreement, of course, on whether we should have made an attempt on the root causes of Islamic terrorism, but that is a conversation practically no one has anymore, or even had back when it was relevant. Once you reached the conclusion that we could no longer tolerate the indefinite export of terrorism from the Middle East, though, you are more than halfway to concluding that Iraq, for a variety of reasons, was the place to start.

  47. But since we don’t have a meaningful sample of libertarians who cast votes on the AUMF, shall we use bloggers in their stead? Reynolds, Volokh, Sullivan, Cavanaugh, Postrel, Welch, M. Young, C. Young…

    Hold on. Cavanaugh was strongly opposed and Welch was undecided.

  48. My apologies for the late post. In reference to Congressional Democrats and the authorization of force in Iraq: In the Senate, 29 Dems voted in favor of war and 21 against. In the House, 81 voted for and 126 voted against. Tallies here.

    I was incorrect in implying that “most Democrats” supported the war, at least in terms of members of Congress (though a majority of Senate Dems did). I was not able to pull up pre-war public opinion polls based on party affiliation.

  49. My bad, Jesse, I was working from memory.

  50. Baltimoron | August 26, 2008, 11:01am | #

    But just who is going to decide this election anyway?

    The same people who always decide elections. Dimwits who wake up on Election Day and vote for whichever the of the two clowns has better hair or “seems more honest.”

    Taller, man, don’t forget taller.

    joe | August 26, 2008, 12:28pm | #
    So much partisan hackery on this thread. Heaven fucking forbid anyone drop some factual evidence in the way of a false-but-flattering statement about libertarians’ superiority.

    Fine, shoot the messenger. What was Bob Barr’s 2002 position on Iraq again?

    Ouch, man, that was harsh. Probably deserved, but harsh.

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