Friday, 7 September 2012

Obama: 'I am the president'

Despite all of the speechifying, exhortations, warnings, accusations and pleas from all of the speakers at the DNC, these four simple words from the mouth of the president himself probably won him a second term.
The speech itself was vintage Obama. He began, as usual, with personal tributes to his wife Michelle and their two daughters ("You still have to go to school in the morning"), then to Vice President Joe Biden. He quickly then got down to business, scorning, even joking about his “opponents’” proclivities to prescribe tax cuts for whatever ails you. “Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call me in the morning.”
But what sealed the deal was his insistence that “we…the people” and not corporations, banks, or well-heeled Wall Street financiers, constitute the heart and soul of America. He seconded and expanded Biden’s remarks that America was not in “decline.” He framed the Republicans' constant naysaying, cynicism and dystopic doom and gloom approach to everything by highlighting the general theme of this convention: “Forward.” He addressed the belittling by the Republicans of his 2008 “hope and change” mantra by directly challenging the conventioneers and America at large to never “give up.”
But it was the sheer power of incumbency which put all things in perspective. “I am the President,” he said. And by implication, he was saying to the world and to Romney himself, “And, you’re not.” As president he reminded voters that Osama Bin Laden was dead. As president he took credit for ending the Iraq war and setting the Afghanistan war on track to end in little more than a year. In other words, he reminded his audience that not only is he the president, but he is also the “Commander in Chief” with four years experience under his belt -- and that Romney seems to have trouble even visiting foreign lands as a tourist.
The President directly confronted Romney/Ryan’s budget proposals on everything from Medicare and Social Security to their proposed solution for General Motors – bankruptcy. Echoing a theme of all previous speakers, he noted that the Republican plan for every problem is more of the same discredited economic theories that they have followed, pushed, and argued for since 1981. It was/are, he said, those policies and theories which brought this nation-state to the very brink of total economic collapse. (And now, as an earlier speaker said, they want to "double down on trickle down").
Finally, he framed this election as one of a “choice” between two fundamentally and diametrically opposed philosophies, ideas, views of the meaning governance itself.
"But when all is said and done - when you pick up that ballot to vote - you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation.
“Over the next few years, big decisions will be made in Washington, on jobs and the economy; taxes and deficits; energy and education; war and peace — decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives and our children's lives for decades to come. On every issue, the choice you face won't be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America. A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future."
So, although there were no new grand proposals offered, no new policy grounds broken, no bold initiatives or declarations, still, President Obama put Mitt Romney on notice that this is his last campaign, and he is determined…destined even, to win it.
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