Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How Did We Get Here?

I totally agree with Andrew Sullivan:

So far, only Michelle Obama has rescued this convention from being dreary and distracted. Maybe they are waiting for Biden and Obama. But watching this convention so far, I don't get the feeling that these people have lived through the same eight years as I have. I may have aired more anti-Bush passion on this blog - written by someone who endorsed the guy in 2000 - than I have heard from these speakers so far. Unless you understand how terrible the wounds of the last eight years have been, you do not understand the urgency of the Obama candidacy. I worry that that hasn't been put across forcefully enough so far. Clinton didn't do it. She did the minimum, adequately. I just don't know if it was enough.
There's a weird way in which the Democrats seem to be stuck in the past (with their "I'm for the little guy," "chicken-in-every-pot" economic rhetoric) but also fixated on the problems of the last few months -- high gas prices, house foreclosures, the divisive primary. It's not that those issues aren't important. But we need to ask: how did we get here? and where are we going?

Let's take a look at 2000 -- peace, prosperity, surpluses. Then explain that the reason why that was the case was because we had a President and cabinet who understood the changes that were happening in the world -- economic, political, cultural -- and could react to them.

Then talk about everything that's changed since 2000: the crystallization of the threat of global terrorism, the collapse of the inital dot-com economy, the rise of China, the return of Russia to autocracy, a tremendous rise in oil and energy prices, devaluation of the dollar, international consensus on global warming, continued development in telecommunications, continued increase in the price of health care, an economy where knowledge workers continue to pull away from manufacturing., global changes in infrastructure and education. Just lay into it.

And then talk about the failures of the Republican administration to respond to any of those things. One by one by one. With the economy, tax cuts for the rich, record deficits, anemic growth with wage stagnation and lots of people dropping out of the market. In foreign policy, belligerence and a lot of tough talk, with the only results being a failed war in Iraq, a failed state in Afghanistan, nuclear capabilities in Iran and North Korea, inability to work with China and Russia or even Europe. And no Osama bin Laden! This man killed thousands of Americans! He's helped to kill thousands more of our allies and supports those who kill our soldiers in Iraq. And the Republicans have the nerve to say they've kept us safe?

And the environment. Our infrastructure. Our health care. Our education. It's a littany of Republican failures. It is a legacy that their party is committed to. It is a ship that John McCain cannot right, even if it were the John McCain who ran against George W. Bush in 2000, or who nearly ran with John Kerry in 2004. And that is not the John McCain who is running in 2008.

Americans need to know what is happening to them: why gas prices are the way they are, why the credit market is screwed up in the way it is, why their health care premiums and pensions and job security aren't what they thought they would be. It has not been an accident. Americans have a long memory, when they are encouraged to remember. And they need to know what the future is bringing, and why they cannot trust their future to the Republican party.

If Al Gore were to give this speech, if he gives this speech, if he makes us forget this Obama-Clinton bullshit and the preoccupation with proving that Dems aren't elitist, and he reminds us what a tragedy this has all been, what a catastrophe we have lived through, and how it could have been so very different, if Al Gore stands up in Denver and shows us how we have fallen behind and how much there still is to do, if Al Gore stands up, Al Gore who won the popular vote, Al Gore who only the Supreme Court kept out of the White House, when Al Gore stands up, when he stands, and when we stand, when Al Gore gives this speech, I will weep.

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