Serendipity SOUL | Wednesday Open Thread

Good Morning. I hope you enjoy today, and join in the discussion here at 3CHICS.

President Barack Obama and his daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, watch on television as First Lady Michelle Obama takes the stage to deliver her speech at the Democratic National Convention, in the Treaty Room of the White House, Tuesday night, Sept. 4, 2012.
–Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

hat tip –The Obama Diary:

Some pictures from Charlotte and the President visited Norfolk, Virginia.

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35 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Wednesday Open Thread

  1. SouthernGirl2 says:

    After Bucking Federal Judge On Early Voting, Ohio Secretary Of State Ordered To Appear In Court

    Judge Peter Economus has set a hearing for September 13 to address Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s refusal to comply with the court’s ruling that the state must allow early voting on the three days leading up to the general election. Economus released a terse order Wednesday afternoon: “The Court ORDERS that Defendant Secretary of State Jon Husted personally attend the hearing.” The Obama campaign filed a motion earlier Wednesday asking the court to make Husted give way.

    Husted issued a directive Tuesday stating that he would appeal the decision to restore early voting on those three days, claiming that changing the hours now would “only serve to confuse voters.” The directive “strictly prohibits county boards of elections from determining hours for the Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday before the election.”

  2. rikyrah says:

    Ann Romney demands women ‘wake up’
    By Steve Benen
    Wed Sep 5, 2012 4:30 PM EDT.

    Ann Romney was in Ohio this morning, sounding a little desperate about the gender gap undermining her husband’s campaign.

    Her husband, Mitt Romney, is attuned to women’s struggles, especially their economic struggles, and, Ann Romney said, “I know that Mitt will be there for you.”

    “Women, you need to wake up,” she told the largely female audience at a “Women For Mitt” rally in Findlay, Ohio. “Women have to ask themselves who is going to … be there for you. I can promise you, I know that Mitt will be there for you, he will stand up for you, he will hear your voices, he knows how to fix an economy, he’s a can do kind of guy, he’s a turnaround guy.”

    I can appreciate why Ann Romney comes across as overeager on the issue — a recent CNN poll asked voters nationally which candidate is more in touch with the issues facing women, and President Obama led by 20 points. With the election less than nine weeks away, that’s a problem.

    But what Ann Romney may not fully appreciate is why her husband is struggling so badly with women voters. If her remarks today are any indication, Romney seems to think her husband will create jobs, women will get many of those jobs, ergo, women should vote for Romney. Never mind what Obama has done, or how progressive he is on gender equality; Romney’s economic plans should be enough to win women over, notwithstanding the failures of those plans during his one term as governor.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Judge Orders Jon Husted To Attend Ohio Early Voting Hearing
    Ryan J. Reilly 5:52 PM EDT, Wednesday September 5, 2012

    It isn’t just the Obama campaign that is upset over Ohio’s decision to ignore a federal court order instructing them to reinstate early voting during the three day period before the November election. The federal judge who issued the decision seems pretty perturbed too, ordering Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to show up to a Sept. 13 hearing in-person.

    “This Court hereby ORDERS that Defendant Secretary of State Jon Husted personally attend the hearing,” U.S. District Judge Peter Economus wrote in an order Wednesday afternoon.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Heilemann on Michelle Obama’s Stunning Speech
    By John Heilemann

    The opening session of the Democratic National Convention was designed to be, in effect, coalition night, with a lineup of speakers reflecting the assemblage of voting blocs that constitute Barack Obama’s base. Representing Hispanics, there would be San Antonio mayor and keynoter Julian Castro and congressman Xavier Becerra; representing African-Americans, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, Newark mayor Cory Booker, and Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx; and representing women, HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius, congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth, and Lilly Ledbetter. And then there would be Michelle Obama, not only covering those last two constituencies simultaneously but doing much (much) more besides.

    As it unfolded, coalition night was successful as such and in many other respects. But what it will be — and should be — remembered for was the First Lady’s speech, which I can say without risk of exaggeration was one of the most extraordinary convention turns I have witnessed in more than two decades in this racket.

    In this assessment, Impolitic finds himself part of a wide and bipartisan consensus. But not only in this assessment. In fact, on any number of salient points, pretty much the entirety of the political-media class — left, right, and center — here in the Queen City is in broad agreement.

    This first is that, by comparison with the Republican jamboree in Tampa last week, the Democratic shindig in Charlotte is a better orchestrated, more enthusiastic, and more strategically coherent affair. (For anyone wondering, the national affairs desk was indeed on the ground in the Big Guava but not fully operational, as Impolitic was consumed with the task of wrestling this ungainly alligator to the ground.) Every speech uncorked last night inside the Time Warner Cable Arena served a consistent and well-defined purpose: to puff up Obama, stick the shiv into Mitt Romney, and clarify the choice between competing visions and values that the Democrats argue the election represents.

    Castro’s address illustrated this point, as well as the contrast between the two conventions, fairly vividly — and the reaction to it formed a second point of broad consensus. Whereas Chris Christie’s effort in the same slot was roundly, loudly, and correctly pilloried as an exercise in self-servitude as opposed to a ratification of Romney or a reinforcement of his message, Castro’s was an ode to Obama. It was rousing, at times funny, and included a metaphor that perfectly encapsulated a key Democratic theme (and that also happened to be a subtle shot at Paul Ryan’s recent overstatements about his prowess as a runner in his youth): “The American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay.” And while Castro’s keynote wasn’t inspiring or transcendent enough to catapult him into the political stratosphere the way Obama’s did in 2004, those who had touted the 37-year-old as a talent with the potential to become the first Latino governor of Texas saw their praise vindicated. By any metric, it was a highly polished and entirely auspicious national debut.

    For Michelle Obama, of course, it was no such thing. Her own high-stakes debut came four years ago at the Democratic convention in Denver, in a speech that sought to dispel the negative impressions of her — as a haughty, aggrieved, and even angry black woman — that had been propagated in some quarters. And so it did, and then some. Since then, MRO’s public image has been pure gold; with an approval rating of 66 percent, she is more popular than her husband (and any other Democrat save the Clintons) by a mile.

    And yet, for all that, what no one could have fully appreciated was how much she has grown and the heights she has attained as a political performer — until last night, that is. Purely at the level of stage presence and oratorical execution, Michelle was close to flawless: warm and natural, charming and convincing, passionate and pitch-perfect, giving off such a natural and comfortable affect that it was almost possible to forget that she was, you know, performing.

    But Michelle’s speech was remarkable on countless other levels, too. In the stories she told of her humble roots and her and Barack’s salad days (“Our combined monthly student loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage; we were so young, so in love, and so in debt”), she presented a powerful contrast with the privilege of the Romneys. In the testaments to her husband’s character, she both vouched for and humanized him. In her substantive comments (“[The president] believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care”], she defended him on policy and appealed to key segments of the electorate. In her obvious devotion to her kids (“My most important title is mom-in-chief”), she rooted herself in centrist, and even conservative, values. With the powerful anecdotes she unfurled — about how, for example, her MS-stricken father would “wake up with a smile, grab his walker, prop himself up against the bathroom sink, and slowly shave and button his uniform” — she went beyond exposition to illustration, beyond telling to showing. And in so doing, she not only demonstrated just how overrated Ann Romney’s decent but unexceptional speech last week in Tampa was, but established a degree of emotional resonance so rare in politics that it’s generally considered foolish even to aim for.

  5. rikyrah says:

    The news isn’t Goode for Romney in Virginia
    By Steve Benen
    Wed Sep 5, 2012 11:23 AM EDT.

    By all indications, Virginia is going to be a key battleground state in the 2012 presidential election, and with polls showing President Obama with an edge in the commonwealth, Mitt Romney will need every advantage he can get.

    With this in mind, this week’s setback may prove to be very important.

    Former congressman Virgil Goode Jr. has qualified for the presidential ballot in Virginia, the State Board of Elections ruled Tuesday, adding a potential obstacle to Republican Mitt Romney’s hopes of winning the pivotal state.

    The state Republican Party is challenging Goode’s eligibility, alleging petition fraud, and the Constitution Party’s nominee still could be knocked off the ballot…. Third-party hopefuls rarely garner many votes in Virginia, but Goode’s status as a longtime officeholder — he spent 12 years in Congress and 24 years in the state Senate before that — could bring him more support than usual. Just 2 or 3 percent of the vote going to Goode could be enough to swing the contest

    For those unfamiliar with the Constitution Party, it’s the extremely conservative party that perceives Republicans as too moderate and accommodating. There’s no realistic sense that the hyper-far-right party will seriously compete in any state, including Goode’s home state of Virginia.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 01:48 PM ET, 09/05/2012
    Michelle Obama’s speech and the argument over opportunity
    By Greg Sargent
    In her speech yesterday, Michelle Obama talked in personal terms about her own and President Obama’s modest upbringings. She discussed her own father’s struggles as a pump operator to put her through school and Obama’s grandmother and single mother, who suffered pay discrimination. She talked about how student loans enabled both Obamas to eventually enjoy lucrative careers.

    “When it comes to rebuilding our economy, Barack is thinking about folks like my dad and like his grandmother,” Ms. Obama said.

    This biographical detail has been widely interpreted as an effort to forge an emotional bond with working and middle class Americans — a reminder that the Obamas have experienced what they have, while the Romney’s haven’t.

    But it’s also worth noting that the implicit biographical contrast Ms. Obama drew here is directly relevant to one of the central policy disputes of this campaign — the argument over how best to create opportunity and shared prosperity.

    How should we rebuild our economy to create opportunity for those who lack it? The two candidates have starkly different answers to this question. Romney believes the best way to promote opportunity is to unshackle the free market, which will enable people to realize their potential and shower everyone with prosperity. His running mate’s fiscal vision entails deep cuts to education and financial aid for students. Romney has counseled struggling students to shop around and borrow money from their parents. Obama derides this as “you’re on your own economics” and says recent history has shown this to be a sham.

    Obama, meanwhile, is arguing for a larger governmental role in facilitating opportunity, through more investment in education and financial aid and other judicious government intervention in the economy. Romney derides this as favoring government-enforced “equal outcomes” and claims Obama’s argument for government support is demeaning of individual initiative as a factor in people’s success.

    Romney cites his own success as proof of what the private sector can shower on people if only we allow it to. Obama, too, has cited himself as the type of person who needed assistance in order to fully realize his potential; Ms. Obama’s speech fleshed that out last night. In other words, both cite their own successes in making the case for how to make the economy work for everyone. But the key difference is that Romney went on to enormous success after growing up amid far more comfortable circumstances than the Obamas did.

    Michelle Obama’s speech wasn’t just about emotionally connecting with the middle class. It was about driving home that she and Barack have lived through some of the same life experiences as the people who are at the center of the campaign’s policy dispute over how to promote social mobility, shared prosperity, and economic security.

  7. rikyrah says:

    The Lonely Power of Michelle and the Idea of Barack

    By Tom Junod

    at 2:45AM

    What Ann Romney had to do — was supposed to do — when she took the stage in Tampa two nights before her husband accepted the Republican nomination for president was obvious. Indeed, it was so obvious that it was advertised before she ever spoke a word, and set as the bar she had to clear: She had to “humanize” him. Whether you think that counted as a low bar or an insurmountable one, and whether or not you think she succeeded, depends largely on your political persuasion; but the nature of the task set before Ann Romney was part of the conventional wisdom long before the conventional wisdom started appearing in the newspapers and getting passed, pundit-to-pundit, in television roundtables.

    It was not so with the speech that Michelle Obama gave here on Tuesday Night at the Democratic National Convention. What she had to do — what she was supposed to do — was as obscure as what the Democrats have to do, now that they have convened in Charlotte for the purpose of re-electing Barack Obama. Did she have to humanize him? Defend him? Point out his successes? Tout his many and manifest competencies? It was clearly a big speech, with a lot riding on it, but why this was so, well, that remained a subtextual concern of the speech, something unstated even after she began speaking.

    Let me tell you why. Last week, I went to a funeral attended by people very close to me, many of whom are members of the demographic said to be implacably hostile to Barack Obama — white men who are not college graduates. They’d been watching the Republican convention, and after the burial they sat around the backyard and started engaging me on the subject of the president. There was no way around it, they said — he wasn’t an American, even if he happened to be born here. And that Michelle Obama —

    “What about Michelle Obama?” I asked.

    “Well, don’t you think she’s a racist?” one of them said.

    “A racist? What has she ever said or done to indicate that she’s a racist?”

    “She doesn’t have to say anything. You can tell by the look in her eyes.”

    Now, the fact that a lot of Americans are still opposed not simply to the presidency of Barack Obama but to the idea of the presidency of Barack Obama is not something that Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, or in fact any Democratic speechmaker will talk about at the convention. But it’s indisputable, and it accounts for the almost fantastic nature of what many Americans think of both the president and the First Lady. To be sure, they’re politically vulnerable on merit; but they’re also vulnerable because even, after their four years in office, a weirdly unvarying percentage of America does not accept them as Americans. It is prejudice, pure and simple, and it manifests itself less in polling results than it does in a political discourse warped by whispers and suspicions kept sub rosa.

    And so it was hard to say what Michelle Obama had to do on Tuesday night, because so much of what she had to do tonight was something outside the realm of polite speech. Republican commentators spoke almost winsomely of Ann Romney’s need to humanize Mitt Romney; but no Democratic commentator could speak of the necessity of “Americanizing” Barack Obama without indulging the worst instincts of the American electorate. So what Michelle Obama did, quite simply, was engage the best. I sat with the Ohio delegation as she spoke, and I watched from close up as she went from one thing — a woman of glamor and poise, in a dress the color of sherbet and matching heels — to quite another, in the course of a single speech. She never sounded embattled on Tuesday, but she was clearly responding to something, and it was this aspect of her speech that lent it a special force.

    I have always been impressed by Michelle Obama, but never quite taken, because she has always struck me as slightly grudging in her competence — a news anchor in a middle-market American city who has been called upon to do a morning show of light news and featurettes, say. But Tuesday night’s speech had an almost lonely power, because it wasn’t only about him but about them — about a couple that has changed the world, only to be misperceived. And it addressed those misperceptions not by naming them but by rising above them, and inviting the rest of America to rise above them, too. It was competent enough, to be sure, but it was its small infelicities that made it unforgettable. For instance, she stammered. She stammered when she was listing what she still loved about her husband — she tripped on the word “I,” and said “I, I, I” instead — and she stammered again on the “we” when she softly echoed the oration of Dr. King, and said “that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once. But eventually we get there, we always do.”

    By that time, however, the stammer was only part of what she was building to — only part of the bigger beat that she accentuated when she slapped her hand across her chest on the cascade of “surelys” that ended a peroration on where we’ve come from and where we’ve been: “surely, surely we can give everyone a chance at that great American Dream.” And when at last she returned to where she started — when she said that her “most important title is still Mom-in-Chief” — even her glamor was gone, for the glitter that everyone saw was no longer the sheen of her dress or the sparkle of her earrings, but rather the tears in her eyes.

    So maybe Michelle Obama was supposed to humanize her husband on Tuesday night, in her big speech. Maybe she was even supposed to humanize herself. But she wound up doing something very different, and something far more rare, and something that not only answered the people who insist that she is not like them but also had to shame them: She was simply human, and so as American as any of us could hope or dare to be.

    Read more:

  8. rikyrah says:

    The respite from the welfare lie was short lived
    By Steve Benen
    Wed Sep 5, 2012 12:44 PM EDT.

    Just yesterday, I was delighted to note the Romney/Ryan welfare lie, which falsely accuses President Obama of “gutting” existing welfare law and “dropping work requirements,” had suddenly disappeared. After weeks of constant repetition, the Republicans’ ridiculous, radically-charged attack had vanished.

    Alas, the respite didn’t last.

    [O]n Wednesday morning, Ryan compared Obama to a different Democratic president — former president Bill Clinton, who is set to address the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this evening.

    “My guess is we’ll get a great rendition of how good things were in the 1990s, but we’re not going to hear much about how things have been in the last four years,” Ryan, speaking before a crowd of several hundred in this small town west of Des Moines, said of Clinton’s upcoming speech. “And by the way, under President Clinton, we got welfare reform … which moved people from welfare to work, to get people out of poverty. President Obama is rolling back welfare reform.”

    If the Republican candidate hopes to shake the “Lyin’ Ryan” moniker, he’s moving in the wrong direction.

  9. rikyrah says:

    What we know now about True the Vote

    By Laura Conaway

    Wed Sep 5, 2012 1:07 PM EDT.


    I got something in the mail yesterday, a certified letter from True the Vote in Houston.

    We’ve been covering the Tea Party-organized group, which trains volunteers to challenge voters’ registrations and then voters themselves at the polls. True the Vote aims to have a million poll watchers ready for November, so every precinct in America gets at least one. Those watchers are supposed to give voters a feeling like “driving and seeing the police following you.”

    We knew that True the Vote raised $64,687 (pdf) in 2010, the first year the group sent watchers into the polls, and we knew that True the Vote reported its revenue as coming from contributions, gifts and grants. True the Vote’s founder says they get money by passing around an old felt cowboy hat at meetings.

    Now that we’ve got True the Vote’s 2011 tax returns, we can tell you the old felt hat has gotten a good bit heavier. The group took in twice as much money that year — $136,957 — as the one before. More than half of that came from three contributions: $50,000, $19,000 and $5,000. We know the amounts because the IRS requires nonprofits to itemize large donations. We don’t know who made the donations, because the IRS doesn’t require nonprofits like True the Vote to reveal that, and True the Vote redacted the names in the copy they sent us.

    True the Vote’s right to shield the names of its donors is in some dispute. In March, a Texas judge ruled that True the Vote is operating as an unregistered political action committee supporting Republicans, and not as a nonpolitical charity. True the Vote has appealed, and for now, this is what the public can see about their big-money donors (red circles added):

  10. rikyrah says:

    What the Constitution and the Dems’ platform have in common
    By Steve Benen
    Wed Sep 5, 2012 9:45 AM EDT.

    This doesn’t mention God, either, so relax about the Dems’ platform

    Paul Ryan, Fox News, the Christian Broadcasting Network, and assorted media figures everywhere seem to be fascinated by the same omission from the Democratic Party’s platform

    The keynote speaker and others claimed the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, would raise taxes on the “middle class.” [Romney] has promised he won’t. […]

    The keynote speaker, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, repeated a frequent but groundless Democratic talking point, warning that Romney would raise taxes on the middle class. Castro was joined in this by other Democrats including former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. But they all misrepresented the position Romney has made clearly and repeatedly — that he would somehow lower taxes on those in the middle class

    I think the keyword there is “somehow.”

  11. rikyrah says:

    Michelle Obama’s Dress in High Definition


    Published: September 5, 2012

    IT says a lot about politics today that it was possible, during a speech by Michelle Obama that was described as “genius” for its subtlety by both David Brooks and Mark Shields, that a parallel conversation was happening online, and in real time, about her shimmering brocade dress and matching fingernails. If you were following along on Twitter, where comments reportedly reached a peak of 28,000 a minute by the end of her speech, you might wonder how many people were really listening to what she was saying.

    Like it or not, this election season has shown that clothes are probably more important than words, or at least a more effective means of communication.

    We have discussed the significance of Ann Romney’s Oscar de la Renta shirtdress at the Republican convention, so fairness demands an examination of Mrs. Obama’s dress, by Tracy Reese. By most accounts, Mrs. Obama came up the winner, in a beautifully fitted dress that was a savvy choice in the era of high-definition television.

    From a distance, the dress had a shimmering effect, like wet paint in a blast of unreadable pastels, but in close-ups, viewers could practically study the pattern of the gold brocade. You could imagine a group of handlers backstage considering this choice with the calculation of Cinna in “The Hunger Games,” when he creates a gown of flames for the big-screen debut of Katniss Everdeen. They were asking the same question, anyway: What would it look like on television? The dress was sleeveless, as is Mrs. Obama’s signature, playing to her message of physical fitness.

    Her hair and makeup were also praised, but not her silver-blue fingernails. If you think that is being too nitpicky, try Googling “Condoleezza Rice” and “lipstick.”

    Even the choice of designer sent a message. Mrs. Obama has frequently worn dresses by Ms. Reese, a self-made businesswoman who happens to be African-American, which in fashion is a rare breakthrough. Ms. Reese’s prices are also in the middle ground. While the dress Mrs. Obama wore has not yet been produced, very similar styles from Ms. Reese cost $395 to $450, which fits perfectly with the Democratic pitch to the middle class. Mrs. Obama’s pink pumps were from J. Crew.

  12. rikyrah says:

    Michelle Obama in Tracy Reese
    Posted on Sep 5, 2012 in Fashion

    Okay, okay! We heard you, twitter-peeps! So many of you came flying at us at once with your twitter-twats demanding to know everything there is to know about everything appearing on FLO’s body (right down to requests to identify her nail polish, to which we have to respond “Really?”) that we think you might have caused a twitter-twat-breakdown last night.

    First lady Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. Michelle Obama wore a custom Tracy Reese dress paired with J. Crew suede pumps.

    Objective: all eyes on me while I project an image of competence and femininity; new school female warrior meets old school wife and mother.

    Mission accomplished.

    It’s eye-catching as hell, isn’t it? Probably one of the more eye-catching outfits she’s ever worn – and that’s REALLY saying something. A wonderful break from the binary red/blue color scheme. Sure, it’s pink and pale blue, which means it’s not that much of a break, but we’ll take it.

    Now you know we’re gonna bitch about those shoes. They’re fabulous shoes, but Shelley does love her Barbie-style matching. Still, she looks sharp, pretty, and most importantly, modern.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Charlotte, Day One: Reader Reax

    A reader writes:

    It’s striking how well this convention is organized compared to the RNC. The speeches contain themes and ideas that rebound and reinforce each other. From the subtle and aggressive attack lines in the earlier speeches against Romney’s truthfulness and being out of touch to Michelle Obama’s positive recitations of Barack’s own qualities, empathy, and poor background. Themes like opportunity and investment ring throughout with speakers designed to appeal to different audiences, without sounding forced or cliched.

    Compare that to “we did build that,” “I love women,” and “humanize Mitt” – the three things the Romney campaign told us the first day was about. It’s the difference between well-crafted oratory and hamfisted, obvious attempts to check boxes, recite lines, and accomplish goals.

    Another defends Strickland:

    While I agree with your statement that Mitt Romney has the right to do whatever he wants with his money, and while I recognize that everything that he has done has been legal (insert “we don’t actually know about his taxes” line here), I think Gov. Strickland did what many have been clamoring for – he called a lie a lie: “On what he’s saying about the president’s policy for welfare to work, he’s lying. Simple as that.”

    I find the frankness refreshing. He acknowledged what many middle-class Democrats feel about Mitt Romney – that we are but “numbers on a spreadsheet” to him, that he cares for nothing but the bottom line, that he is so cravenly ambitious that he sprints away from his signature public sector accomplishment because it has become politically problematic.

    In regards to the “Cayman Islands” lines, I think Strickland pointed out something key – what do Romney’s actions say about him, as a man and as an American? Sure, he has the right to these tax havens and the means to pursue every advantage possible, but just because he can, does that mean that he should? I think it IS unpatriotic for a person to do whatever he or she can to avail themselves of their means to avoid paying into the social safety net, to avoid participating in the democracy and the government which he is asking us to let him lead. He’s clearly somewhat ashamed of it, or else he’d explain it.

  14. rikyrah says:

    September 04, 2012 11:51 PM

    Day’s End and Night Watch

    Appreciation of Michelle Obama’s speech tonight seems to be building and building. For sure she (as Chuck Todd just said on NBC) “owned” the convention in a way no speaker at either event has so far. There is zero question she accomplished a great deal to help generate “base” enthusiasm for her husband; she basically shamed Democrats into caring about this election. And her perfectly delivered speech created a variety of implicit contrasts with Ann Romney’s address last week, which “humanized” her husband by explaining that they once had to eat tuna pasta before Bain Capital was formed and took off, and have always given a healthy portion of their unimaginable wealth to private charity.

    More generally, the first day of the Democratic convention exhibited two things some observers weren’t sure to expect: (1) a robust defense of Obama’s governing record, especially (and unexpectedly, as Ezra Klein notes) ObamaCare; and (2) a direct, uninhibited assault on the GOP generally and Mitt Romney specifically. On the latter front, Deval Patrick gave what might have been remembered, had Michelle Obama not blotted out the sun, as the best first-night speech. And “keynote” speaker Julian Castro provided a hefty combo platter of Latino solidarity with Obama; an implicit contrast with the laissez-faire oriented Latino outreach of the GOP convention; some good shots at Romney; and an appeal to younger voters.

    As a veteran of the 2004 convention, when the word came down that speakers were not to criticize Republicans at all (based on some focus groups of independents expressing hostility to partisanship), this was all pretty amazing.

    And I’m impressed so far at the Democrats’ ability to combine a contextualized and aggressive defense of Obama’s record with a direct challenge to the GOP message.

    I personally figured tomorrow night with Bill Clinton would provide the first big fireworks of this convention. Now the big question is whether Clinton’s speech and Obama’s will build on tonight’s momentum, and present the complex, coherent case they need to move the numbers a bit and set the stage for an epic GOTV effort

  15. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! :-)

  16. rikyrah says:

    Jon Lovett@jonlovett

    Mitt Romney is going to wake up tomorrow morning with his first hangover.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Jamelle Bouie@jbouie

    Michelle’s speech, more than anything, is a direct repudiation of the entire Romney narrative. And she does it with such a wonderful smile.

  18. rikyrah says:

    David Roberts@drgrist

    Jesus. This speech has left the Romneys in smoldering ruins without once mentioning them.

  19. rikyrah says:

    Nick Confessore@nickconfessore

    Pretty deft: A ferocious attack on Mitt Romney disguised as a heartwarming tale about Barack Obama.

  20. rikyrah says:

    Andrew Sullivan@sullydish

    Reader writes: “Ann has 5 sons with no military service. Military mom who introduced Michelle has 5 sons either in service or headed there.”

  21. rikyrah says:

    Andrew Sullivan@sullydish

    After GOP all but ignored war in Afghanistan or vets from Iraq, we now have a military mom introducing Michelle Obama.

  22. rikyrah says:

    September 04, 2012

    The Dems’ turn

    An outstanding and poignant opening for Michelle Obama–in speaking about the “American spirit,” she demolished the idiotic Republican assault on her husband’s “apologies” for America.

    In talking especially about her father’s burdens and triumphs, she’s connecting the “real” men in her life, men who, in their own determined ways, overcame life’s struggles. Brilliant.

    She’s folding good government into family values and vibrant individualism–the necessary dualism in America that Republicans seem to miss entirely.

    Smart. Michelle returns to her husband’s keynote theme of 2004: this president “doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or Republican”–a genuine appeal aimed straight at independents.

  23. rikyrah says:

    September 05, 2012

    Obama’s astounding success … considering

    There’s “Hell yes,” and then there’s an equally aggressive answer to the “Are you better off?” question, which Barney Frank bestowed on CNN last night, although Erin Burnett didn’t exactly ask the question:

    George Bush came to us on the Democratic side in late ’08 and said, we’re in a crisis, we need your help–and we gave it to him, very openly, very fully. Then Obama comes in to try to deal with the terrible situation he inherited from Bush and the Republican media went into full partisan attack…. The Republicans weren’t prepared to be cooperative no matter what.

    For average Americans, what the Obama administration has accomplished economically–private-sector job growth, an 11-point turnaround in GDP, an upswing in real wages, a doubling of the Dow, the rescue of millions of auto-industry jobs–is nothing short of extraordinary, especially when considered in the unfolding context of the Great Recession’s afterwash and a hostile, bomb-throwing, monkey-wrenching, utterly disloyal congressional opposition.

  24. rikyrah says:

    The Best Signs, Buttons and Swag at the Democratic National Convention

    An array of statements seen in Charlotte this week

  25. rikyrah says:

    Charles Pierce: …. What the president did in allowing the children of undocumented immigrants to become citizens was Marco Rubio’s idea, but only Julian Castro got to brag about it at a convention. Only Castro got to make the incontrovertible point that, “In the end, the American Dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay. Our families don’t always cross the finish line in one generation. But each generation passes on to the next generation the fruits of their labors…. My mother fought for civil rights so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone.”

    Marco Rubio could say that, but his party won’t let him, because to admit that someone had to “fight for civil rights” is dissonant with the party’s message that the simple incantation of “America” is enough to make all the bad things in our history disappear….

    …. Rubio’s party wouldn’t let him say that because the party’s mythology insists these days that the roads and the bridges, and the public schools and universities, essentially built themselves …. The difference is that Julian Castro’s party admits the existence of a political commonwealth, that there are some things we own in common, if only a “property in our rights,” as Mr. Madison put it.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Embracing ‘Obamacare’ with pride
    By Steve Benen
    Wed Sep 5, 2012 8:37 AM EDT.

    There’s plenty of polling that shows the Affordable Care Act doesn’t enjoy overwhelming popularity, but this isn’t stopping Democrats from celebrating ‘Obamacare’ at their national convention. On the contrary, the party seems to be using the convention to presented a spirited defense of the maligned law.

    Several months ago, Obama for America released a video featuring Stacy Lihn of Arizona, who explained that the health care reform law is saving her young daughter’s life. It was a powerful clip, featuring a young family facing not only a gut-wrenching fear about their daughter’s health, but also the fear that some politicians would destroy the law and take away their family’s hope.

    Last night, the Lihn’s addressed the Democratic National Convention. “Governor Romney says people like me were the most excited about President Obama the day we voted for him,” Stacy said. “But that’s not true. Not even close.”

    Lihn added, “Governor Romney repealing health care reform is something we worry about literally every day. Zoe’s third open-heart surgery will happen either next year or the year after. If Mitt Romney becomes president and Obamacare is repealed, there’s a good chance she’ll hit her lifetime cap.

  27. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 03:36 AM ET, 09/05/2012
    Michelle Obama’s indirect indictment of Mitt Romney
    By Stephen Stromberg

    It’s not that Michelle Obama said anything about Mitt Romney. She didn’t even mention his name. Not once. But in one section of her lively and well-delivered primetime speech to the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, line after line was weighted with biting implications about Romney’s character – and his suitability to serve as president.

    She argued that presidents makes hard calls by referring to their values, and Barack Obama has the ones you want. They also happen to be values that Romney isn’t widely reputed to hold, particularly among the Democratic activists who cheered knowingly at the first lady’s every turn of phrase.

    President Obama “began his career by turning down high-paying jobs.” Romney began his career by seeking out high-paying jobs.

    President Obama knows that “the truth matters.” Romney’s running mate gave a dishonest speech at the Republican National Convention last week.

    President Obama knows that “success isn’t about how much money you make.” Romney amassed a large fortune, and he’s proud of it.

  28. rikyrah says:

    E.J. Dionne: The most devastating attack on Mitt Romney at Tuesday’s Democratic Convention came from Michelle Obama, who did not mention Romney’s name and said not a single cross thing about him.

    She devastated him by implication. If Romney was the son of privilege, she and her husband were anything but. What she said directly is that Barack Obama understands people who are struggling. What she didn’t have to say is Mitt Romney doesn’t.

    …. A speech that was thoroughly apolitical on the surface carried multiple political messages, linking a very traditional message about parenting with a call for social justice.

    And it was almost entirely done though personal stories.

    ….. she also said that for husband, “success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” Did any other presidential candidate come to mind as perhaps having a contrasting approach? Michelle Obama was much too polite to say. She didn’t have to.

  29. rikyrah says:

    The ‘Mom in Chief’ sets the bar high
    By Steve Benen

    Wed Sep 5, 2012 8:00 AM EDT.

    Let’s just say the president isn’t the only one in the Obama family who knows how to bring the house down with an exceptional speech.

    First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks at the Democratic National Convention was, on the surface, a celebration of her husband, and an appeal for support. No doubt mindful of public frustration and a fear that some Obama supporters may stay on the sidelines this year, letting progress slip away, she stressed a bigger picture.

    “I love that even in the toughest moments, when we’re all sweating it — when we’re worried that the bill won’t pass, and it seems like all is lost — Barack never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise,” Michelle Obama said. “Just like his grandmother, he just keeps getting up and moving forward…with patience and wisdom, and courage and grace. And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here, and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once. But eventually we get there, we always do.”

    But what amazed me about the speech was its ability to be deeply political entirely through implication. As E.J. Dionne Jr. noted, “The most devastating attack on Mitt Romney at Tuesday’s Democratic Convention came from Michelle Obama, who did not mention Romney’s name and said not a single cross thing about him…. If Romney was the son of privilege, she and her husband were anything but. What she said directly is that Barack Obama understands people who are struggling. What she didn’t have to say is Mitt Romney doesn’t.”

    The president, she explained, understands and fights for working people precisely because of his background — they and their families struggled; they faced crushing debt; they “turned down high paying jobs … because for Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”

    Left unsaid: “unlike a certain vulture capitalist you may know who intends to cut student aid while giving billionaires another tax cut.”

  30. rikyrah says:

    A Tale of Two Cities
    5 Sep 2012
    Author: J. Christian Watts

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” – A Tale of Two Cities

    Charlotte 2012. The DNC kicked off today at 5 pm and boy, what a difference a week makes. So many things about Tuesday were different and better than the RNC lie-fest last week. I’ll leave Michele Obama’s speech for later. I’ll simply say — it was magnificent. She stole the night and raised the bar by an order of magnitude for what first ladies can and should do. I still have goose bumps.

    Last week, Mike Murphy, one of the last remaining sane Republicans, tweeted that the GOP had a deep bench. He did it after Rubio, and he seemed to be saying that what the GOP had in the wings was better than the Dems. Privately, Republicans spoke gleefully about Rubio, Christie, and other major speakers at their convention. They spent the weekend overtly saying that while they might lose 2012, they would be set up with Ryan, Rubio, Christie, and Jeb Bush for 2016.

    The reality of their convention, the Clint Eastwood issue aside, was one of stiff, smug, self-congratulatory myopathy. They think and see only those things that benefit them. They recognize and admire only those people who look or sound identical to themselves. It was a cold, heartless, petty, mean-spirited convention. One filled with hypocrisy and outright lies.

    It is no wonder that the Republican Nominee got almost zero bounce. The convention his campaign ran and he oversaw was one of disjoined self-interest. Each speech was more about the speaker than about the party or about the candidate for president. It was a physical manifestation of their entire message. The GOP is a party of selfish, greedy promotion. As such, they have lost that special something that allows for collective engagement, they have lost that unique ability necessary for political success on a large scale: Sacrifice and communal effort. In a world where only those things that benefit you are good and anything that benefits the greater whole is suspect and corrupt of evil, it is impossible to get people to pull together. What we know is that even at its best — Ann Romney, the people who lost children that Mitt Romney comforted– their convention was missing something.

    Between the lies they told, and the things they left out — Afghanistan, Choice, Civil Rights — it was difficult to actually judge how good they really were. It was just difficult to quantify what – until tonight.

    After watching the Democratic Convention kick off, everyone knows what they were missing. Soul. Compassion. Integrity. Diversity beyond the cosmetic. Sacrifice and devotion to something greater than themselves. They argue that President Obama’s success comes from a cult of personality, but the true cult is the modern GOP. They are consumed by hate of one man, and that hate defines them. But, as hate always does, it cripples them. It blinds them. It limits them and corrupts them.

    The Dems came in talking about what they love about America. They came in talking about what they love about the President. They came in fighting for something, not against. They spoke in an attempt to persuade and inspire, not castigate and attack. Though there were some wonderful attack moments.

    • “…… But as hate always does, it cripples them. It blinds them. It limits and corrupts them. …” So ver true of some repub friends I have. It saddens me to see the aversion they have to truth. There is no way they see the duplicity of their own party in retarding the progress of this country, for their own self-interests. Yes, I will using this line.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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