The electorate’s memories of Charlotte—Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and President Obama himself—may be as lasting as the empty chair next to Clint Eastwood in Tampa in the previous week. What a show! From the Democratic perspective, too bad the presidential election will not be held today—the Friday after Charlotte. That was the same sentiment of many democrats on May 3, the Monday after the death Osama Bin Laden.
The rare dosage of rationalism in President Obama’s overall message last night was striking in many ways. He is asking voters to be patient and look at the future and long term, which is clearly a counterintuitive message to come from an incumbent president. His words last night bank on a new kind of voter intelligence as he said:
I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have. You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear… You elected me to tell you the truth… And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades. It’ll require common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one.
It may indeed seem risky rhetoric when you consider the American electorate’s affinity to quick-fixes, good numbers and promises kept when considering presidential candidates. Yet the president has no other choice but to campaign more on the future, when you consider the job numbers today.
Of course, there was applause in the convention hall. Of course there was a parade of negative sound bites from Romney camp watchers in the wake of the speech. But what about the places that matter most—the Bush Obama counties? Obama was clearly aiming the blue donkey at that slice of America by reclaiming patriotism as a value of the Democratic Party. It showed as veterans commanded a prominent place in convention rhetoric and the party did not make the Republican mistake of ignoring Afghanistan.