Jerry Davich: Dems turn to impress us, sway us, counter Republicans’ charges
Jerry Davich email@example.com September 3, 2012 7:10PM
Jerry Davich. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 5, 2012 6:11AM
With the 2012 Democratic National Convention beginning today, I have a few questions that may echo what’s on the minds of other skeptical voters.
Has President Barack Obama’s 2008 mantra of hope and change transmogrified into hype and disillusionment?
What singular message should the Democrats send in rebuttal to last week’s Republican National Convention, especially to all those swing-state voters who are still on the fence?
And will Republicans try to smuggle in Clint Eastwood to give another off-the-wall speech to overshadow Obama’s acceptance speech, too?
With just 62 days left until Election Day, the presidential race is tighter than Mitt Romney’s lips regarding his past tax returns. That’s why this three-day convention, held in Charlotte, N.C., may actually mean something in contrast to previously overfunded, over-analyzed and overly dramatic conventions.
“It is a great opportunity to see the broad spectrum of Democrats and to connect with the party base,” Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson told me Monday from Charlotte. “It is also a learning experience as there will be seminars about environmental sustainability, infrastructure improvement, social entrepreneurial and education reform.”
This is her third opportunity to attend a Democratic National Convention and her second time as a delegate.
It’s also an opportunity, she noted, for all the Northwest Indiana Democrats in attendance to connect with other “New Deal leaders,” such as Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (who had just addressed the Indiana delegation) and Newark, N.J., Mayor Corey Booker, one of the event’s speakers.
Dozens of speakers will take the podium inside Time Warner Cable arena, including first lady Michelle Obama tonight (as well as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel), former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the first Latino keynote speaker at this convention.
At the finale on Thursday night, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will accept their party’s official nomination at Bank of America Stadium.
The event is heavily planned and highly choreographed, with an expected emphasis on key issues, including foreign policy, bringing home troops from overseas wars, “Obamacare” and looking forward (not back) over the next four years.
“I am looking to returning to Indiana to set the record straight about the president’s record, and doing my part to help him gain four more years to move the country forward,” Freeman-Wilson told me.
Before we move forward, let’s take a peek back at last week’s Republican convention, which attracted roughly 10 million fewer viewers than the 2008 convention, according to The Nielsen Co.
Speakers at last week’s convention repeatedly aimed their personal ire and political rhetoric at Obama and his administration. Their job was not only to look forward, promising better days ahead, but also to look back at Obama’s shortcomings.
“All that’s left is a presidency adrift, surviving on slogans that already seem tired, grasping at a moment that has already passed, like a ship trying to sail on yesterday’s wind,” said Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.
“Here’s the question,” he told Americans. “Without a change in leadership, why would the next four years be any different than the last four years?”
This question, I believe, hits home to those Obama supporters who have become disillusioned since 2008, like a husband whose promises of better days simply haven’t become a reality — for whatever reasons. Is it time for these voters to file for divorce, considering new prospective beaus (Romney and Ryan) with new promises are now knocking on their door?
Just the facts, man
One thing is for sure. The Dems need to match the intensity level of the Republicans, who smartly kept former President George W. Bush hidden away in a closet somewhere. I’ll bet Bush’s name — and his tainted legacy — gets mentioned more at the Dems’ convention. In fact, let’s count how many times.
Speaking of facts, some of the statements made by Republican speakers, most notably Paul Ryan, have been questioned by fact-checking organizations. Not a surprise here. Political propaganda from either side often doesn’t get bogged down by silly facts.
However, if you plan to watch the Democratic convention, I suggest you also double-check the speakers’ statements by afterward visiting websites such as FactCheck.org, Fact-Checker.com or PolitiFact.com.
“Republicans won’t hesitate to use untruthfulness to get votes on Election Day,” said Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., who talked to me from Charlotte on Monday.
This convention will be his second, and he will be giving a speech in front of the Indiana delegation on Tuesday morning. McDermott recently posted a comment on his Facebook page regarding such untruthfulness related to Ryan.
“Republican VP hopeful lies about his finishing time on the single marathon he ran,” McDermott wrote. “Ryan states he ran a sub-3 hour marathon, which is less than 7 minutes per mile for all 26 miles (would be quite the feat).”
“Unfortunately, once pressed on this issue, Ryan admits his time was actually well over 4 hours (which is still impressive). After being confronted on his misstatement, Ryan acknowledged his ‘exaggeration.’ ”
“My problem with this issue, if Ryan lies about dumb things like his marathon running times, what else will he lie to us about?” McDermott asked.
McDermott is concerned that too many Democrats are getting complacent about their support for Obama and the upcoming election. McDermott is proud to say he will be voting for Obama again, and he hopes others follow suit with their outspoken support.
“I don’t see the same enthusiasm in our region that I saw in 2008 for President Obama,” he told me.
Freeman-Wilson added, “No other president, and few other individuals, has encountered people who were dedicated to their failure on the first day of a new job.”
McDermott admitted that the Republican Party as a whole “got a bump” in the polls after its convention last week, and the Democrats need to steal back some of that lost thunder.
In addition to McDermott and Freeman-Wilson, roughly 15 other Northwest Indiana delegates, alternates and guests are attending the convention. They include East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland, Crown Point Mayor David Uran, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon and State Sen. Lonnie Randolph. Other NWI attendees include Randy Palmateer, Geoff Benson, Kevin Smith and Robin Salzeider.
But this year, it’s easier than ever to be a part of the convention via multimedia avenues.
“This convention is going to be the most open and accessible in history,” according to the convention’s website, www.demconvention.com. “It isn’t about political ritual or simply re-nominating the president, it’s about Americans coming together.”
I disagree with that statement. Conventions are about Democrats or Republicans coming together while recruiting new voters. Not for “Americans coming together.”
That day won’t come until Nov. 7, the day after Election Day. At the earliest. If we’re lucky.
Listen to Jerry’s “Casual Fridays” radio show each Friday at noon on WLPR, 89.1-FM, streaming at www.thelakeshorefm.com.