Michelle Obama: A “Killer” Speech and the Democrat’s Secret Weapon
By Y. (9/5/12)
Michelle Obama gave her DNC speech Tuesday night in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her speech, as that of Ann Romney, was tailored to humanize their husbands and make them seem humble, one of us, and thereby appealing to the public. CNN critics are saying that Michelle Obama’s speech was great and that she was able to talk about the common struggle. Michelle Obama’s speech was touching, and in part, its success can be attributed to the fact that she was able to relate to people. The theme for the night was trying to instill in people that Obama is still the same person they were enthused about and voted for four years ago. Michelle Obama addressed Mitt Romney’s comment, when in his speech a couple days ago Mitt Romney asked “If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama?” Though she never mentioned Mitt Romney’s name, her speech made it very clear to distinguish Mitt Romney from President Obama, and emphasized that president Obama understands the common struggle while arguing that Mitt Romney does not.
Though her speech was inspirational, we must consider that politics is like a sales business. A good sales person will close a deal, and in politics all it takes is a good speech. Michelle appealed to the American Dream and tried to distinguish the Democrats from the GOP by saying that the Democrats still believe in giving people a hand when they need it in order to compete. But how do they differ with the GOP all that much when both parties wrap themselves in the American Dream and neither party has stopped the hemorrhaging of jobs abroad and the widening gaps between the plutocrats and the rest? While people’s homes are being foreclosed upon here, there and everywhere, billionaires are close to breaking the barrier of $100 million for a SINGLE house/penthouse.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick in his speech at the convention stated, “It’s time for Democrats to grow a backbone and stand for what we believe.” Funny, Obama was swept into office with a big mandate to do the things that he promised to do: restore transparency and habeas corpus (your right to challenge your detention so that governments don’t have carte blanche to put people away who they don’t like), close Gitmo, end torture, restore the rule of law, and stand up for the “little guy.” But as soon as he took office, even though the GOP had been soundly defeated in the 2008 elections, Obama proceeded to govern not based on that electoral mandate but to surrender ground over and over to the defeated and disgraced minority party.
As Dennis Loo wrote in Globalization and the Demolition of Society in 2011,
Because Bush and Cheney’s reign provoked such widespread anger, rescuing the system’s legitimacy fell to their successors. The financial debacle sealed the GOP ticket’s chances and Obama rode into office with the hopes of millions. Since Obama’s election two things stand out. First, Obama and the Democratic Party leadership are intent upon governing in a “bipartisan” manner, irrespective of the fact that the GOP was soundly repudiated at the polls for Congress in 2006 and for the White House and Congress in 2008. Obama and the Democrats were thus given a mandate to override what the GOP had been and what it currently stands for. Irrespective of the fact that Obama had the votes in Congress and the support of a large majority of people in the country for that agenda, and that he could thereby have effected a government single-payer health insurance plan, ended the wars, assured a woman’s right to abortion, and implemented other policies regardless of Republican opposition (both because he had the votes for closure and because he could rally public opinion to isolate Republicans who stood in the way), Obama chose not to do these things and instead sought common ground with the defeated party. This strategy has only weakened the Democratic Party and strengthened the Right, most visibly in the rise of the Tea Parties and in the 2010 mid-term election results. (p. 184)
Obama has done a few good things, some of the ones mentioned in the convention were the end to “don’t ask don’t tell” back in 2011, and his support for gay marriage. Do these small “successes” completely override the fact that he has not done most of what he promised to do, and in fact, gone further down the wrong road than Bush and, among other things, made it harder, not easier for a young woman to get an abortion (and becoming the first president to counter his own FDA’s recommendation in doing so), bailed out the big banks and extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich, made a secret deal with the HMO’s not to offer a government option for health care, created and been using a presidential assassination list - the infamous “kill list” - personally deciding who shall die, outside of any judicial or other authority, escalating the use of drones (a strategy that Obama himself proposed to Bush to use, which Bush adopted after first expressing astonishment that Obama wanted to wage war on an ally), including the deliberately targeted killings of innocents, expanded the wars to other countries such as Somalia and Yemen, recommended the inclusion of American citizens into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 and then signed that law that expressly suspends constitutional rights for anyone based merely on an accusation, or the fact that he has stripped individuals of their rights, including having his DoD train all of its employees that legal and peaceful protest is “low-level terrorism,” and coordinate on the federal level the forcible repression of the Occupy Movement in city after city?
I hope not. For now we know that politicians will say what they have to say and what they want the people to hear.