Posted on September 07, 2012 in Countdown

The Elephant In The Room

We can’t write a Countdown from the Democratic National Convention without addressing the elephant in the room (you know, the one repeatedly yelling “no”), so let’s get straight to it. The 2012 Democratic Party platform contains, as it always does, language expressing a strong commitment to Israel. But that didn’t keep the media from manufacturing a controversy over the absence of language specifically describing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (as the 2008 platform contained), and the Republicans jumped right on it. So did the Democrats brush off the silliness? Or did they embarrass themselves by jockeying to add the language after the platform had been passed? We’re sure you correctly guessed the answer. What made the whole thing even more embarrassing is that in spite of strong vocal opposition to the Jerusalem amendment, which was every bit as loud as support was in all 3 times the delegates were made to vote (you REALLY have to watch the video), the Chair of the Platform Drafting Committee pretended there was obvious 2/3rd support for the amendment and passed it (to wide booing among delegates). In response, we issued this statement, Jim talked about the fiasco on Democracy Now, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was grilled on CNN, and the Daily Show did another hilarious piece. Ultimately the language is inconsequential: East Jerusalem is still illegally occupied and official U.S. policy is still that Jerusalem’s status should be determined by Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; but it would be nice if our parties didn’t completely embarrass themselves to pander to Israel.

Arab American Delegates at the DNC

Before we go any further, we have to highlight just how awesome our delegates were at this year's Democratic National Convention. CNN and other outlets thought so too. The delegates' energy and their "Arab American Democrat" signs were a constant draw for both network cameras covering the event and those in the Time Warner Cable Arena. Arabs are not exactly known for arriving on time; but when they do arrive early, as they did for the controversial vote above, magical things can happen (a special shout-out to our Washington State delegation for that one). Another special shout-out is due to State Representative Rashida Tlaib, who was chosen by Michigan state party chair Mark Brewer to officially cast Michigan's 203 votes to re-nominate President Obama. All in all, our delegates and Arab American committee members from all our states made their presence felt more than any other preceding year and the community should be proud of them. Make sure to check out our blog early next week to see all the press clips of Arab Americans from the DNC.

Speakers Who Moved the Crowd

Michelle Obama delivered a very moving account of her husband’s character which literally electrified the crowd (well, not literally, because that would be bad, but Joe Biden would say literally). John Kerry, who’s normally attacked for low-energy speeches and flip-flopping, turned the tables on the Republicans at the DNC, going after Romney for flip-flopping (and poking fun at himself in the process), and delivering one zinger after another. Discussing Romney’s outdated views about Russia, Kerry said “Folks, Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska, Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching ‘Rocky IV’.“ Joe Biden delivered the most direct attack on Romney, drawing a comparison between him and the President on the auto-bailout and the killing of bin Laden. “Conviction; resolve; Barack Obama” was Biden’s winning line, bringing the audience to their feet. There were many good speeches, but the next one we’ll talk about takes the cake.

Bill Clinton Rocks The Convention

If someone sat you down and talked at you for 48 minutes, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll either be day-dreaming or strangling yourself somewhere along the speech (probably towards the end). Unless the person speaking at you is the one and only: Bill Clinton. Yup, he delivered the longest speech of the convention, but the interesting substance and exceptional delivery managed to hold the attention of everyone watching all the way through. The man so convincingly took down Republican talking points on the economy and made the case for Obama that he had Romney and Ryan chanting “4 more years” (not really, although Biden would say that “literally” happened). And yes, this is the last time we use the same joke twice in the same Countdown. Even Brit Hume of Fox News praised Clinton as the most talented politician he ever met, and said “If I were ever in trouble and if I were guilty—especially if I were guilty—I would want Bill Clinton there to defend me because nobody does it better.” Yeah, he’s talented alright!

Then His Turn Came

The President closed the convention with a powerful speech, which seemed to do two things: (1) highlight the accomplishments of his first 4 years, and (2) address the disappointed base with “I never said this journey would be easy” and asking them to shoulder the responsibility to bring about change. In a shout-out to ObamaCare, Obama said “My fellow citizens, you were the change. You're the reason there's a little girl with a heart disorder in Phoenix who'll get the surgery she needs because an insurance company can't limit her coverage.” He also shouted-out his DREAM Act-like executive policy on deportations, saying “you're the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she's ever called home.” Towards the end of the speech, he said “America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now… Yes our road is longer, but we travel it together.  We don't turn back.  We leave no one behind.  We pull each other up.  We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes.” While pundits weren’t as unanimous in their praise of Obama’s speech as they were of Clinton’s, the general verdict is that it was a strong speech. With the conventions behind us, let the debate fun begin!

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