After a long hiatus, the Carolina Review blog is back. We hope to make this an engaging forum where we can interact with our readers this year. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be covering the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention. Thursday night, Michael Smith and I will be blogging live during Obama’s acceptance speech (as we expect to do during McCain’s next week). At this point, I would just like to record a few short observations (which are very far from exhaustive) from Monday-Wednesday.
- So far, there has been no discernible “convention bump” in the polls. Monday, the Gallup national poll had a 45-45% tie. Tuesday, John McCain actually slid ahead 46-44%. Wednesday, Obama was ahead 45-44%. These results have been mirrored by other daily polls. Now, though we still have Obama’s acceptance speech, which could very well give him a statistically significant lead (however briefly), it cannot be a good sign that the opening of the convention, combined with the Biden VP announcement gave the ticket absolutely no momentum. [Update: Polling from Thursday show is mixed. Gallup polling indicates that Obama is up 48-42%, but Rasmussen, which has had them even all week, has Obama with only a one point lead. At least we can still say that there was no initial bounce from the Biden announcement. Indeed, Rasmussen reports that Obama “lost ground immediately following the selection of Joe Biden as his running mate.”]
- The pundits generally applauded Michelle Obama’s speech on Monday night. At the least, they said that she accomplished her main goal: changing her image from the enraged radical of the primaries to an American everymom. This is something of a trend in the family (precipitated by necessity, no doubt, but made possible by a willingness verging on duplicity). Immediately after securing the Democratic nomination, Obama started trying to present himself as a son of Kansas, guided by Midwest values. He also started moving to the center on a list of issues (Iran, guns, free trade, etc.). More recently, Obama has been attempting a transformation from the long-awaited Messiah to “a clear-eyed pragmatist” (in the words of Biden). Perhaps more incidentally, He has already undergone a CHANGE from the Obama who wrote The Audacity of Hope, the Obama who seemed to ache that he couldn’t agree with everyone simultaneously (though he completely understood the viewpoints of those with whom he disagreed) to the sharp-elbowed Obama of today, who superciliously derides his opponents (take, for example, his infamous “bitter” monologue or when he remarked, “it’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant”). On the other hand, I don’t think McCain could re-invent himself.
- If I could set one rule for the conventions, it would be that no idea may be repeated, which would make them barely long enough for 3 commercial breaks. If I could set a second rule, it would be that no convention speaker may use anything that might potentially be interpretated as a pun. Amoung the many cringe-inducing samples are:
- “It makes perfect sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities, because these day they’re awfully hard to tell apart.” -Hillary Clinton
- “If you watched the Olympics you know China’s going for the gold.” -Mark Warner
- “Even though John McCain spent 26 years in Washington voting over and over against investing in renewable energy, John McCain does support some ‘renewables.’ He wants to renew the failed Bush agenda…” -Kathleen Sebelius
- While this convention may in the end be successful in uniting the Democratic Party, establishing the narrative for the general election, and giving Obama a much-needed bump in the polls, it has already done one thing very conclusively: provided us with plenty of reminders of just how odious politicians are (one of the least heralded benefits of a limited government is that we wouldn’t feel so irresponsible if we just ignored these narcissists and their fatuous pronouncements). The worst example so far has to be Hillary Clinton. About a third of the way through her speech Tuesday night she took a moment to remember two prominent Democrats who have recently passed away: Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones and Arkansas Democratic Chair Bill Gwatney. Then, she went from almost touching to blatantly obscene, saying “You know, Bill Gwatney and Stepahnie Tudds-Jones knew that, after eight years of George Bush, people are hurting at home and our standing has eroded around the world.” We don’t typically take friends’ passings as opportunities to score rhetorical points… and I thought Bill was the indecent one.