Thursday, August 28, 2008

Some Democratic Convention Thoughts

I haven't exactly been sitting around watching C-SPAN all week, but I did catch some of the speeches live on C-SPAN radio last night.

First of all, it's nice to see the Democrats not eating their young too voraciously. I haven't seen any major screw-ups except that they didn't put Bill Clinton in the prime time hour (from 10-11:00 PM when all the networks show the convention live.) He gave a great speech and it should have been on when everyone would see it, but I have a bit of a quibble with part of it.
They [the Republicans who ran things for most of the past 7 years] took us from record surpluses to an exploding debt; from over 22 million new jobs to just 5 million; from increasing working families' incomes to nearly $7,500 a year to a decline of more than $2,000 a year; from almost 8 million Americans lifted out of poverty to more than 5.5 million driven into poverty; and millions more losing their health insurance.
This is a great example of a politician using misleading statistics. I'm not saying that he's lying. I can't contest his numbers, but I can contest the implication. Clinton's presidency rode the wave of the dot com boom that went bust in Bush's first year or so. The economy took a huge hit in the past 7 years or so, but not primarily because of Bush. Rather, the prosperity of the 90's was at least in part due to the "irrational exuberance" that accompanied the dot com and real estate booms. Clinton was lucky just as Bush was unlucky when it comes to the economy.

Don't get me wrong: Bush ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer and the executive branch of the past eight years has been shameful. They have lied and broken rules and tarnished the U.S.'s reputation abroad. The Bush Republicans must go, but not because the economy is in the crapper. They must go because they have lied and broken rules and put our citizens in harm's way under false pretenses.

If Obama wins the election, I hope he is able to heed the council of people who know how to get things done in Washington. If he's another Jimmy Carter (who is a great ex-president, but was a pretty bad president), it would be really sad. I remain convinced that Al Gore (who seems to be a pretty decent ex-vice president) would have been a terrible president. He was arrogant and out of touch. John Kerry was pretty similar. Each of them would have struggled to be as good as Carter was. Obama seems to be able to gather and listen to people who can get things done. If he wins the election, I hope he can keep it up.

Next week seems like the right time to talk more about the Republicans and to do some comparing and contrasting, so I'll wait until then. In the meantime, I'll keep on listening to these speaches with a skeptical ear.

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