Barack Obama: “Eight is Enough”

The reviews are in: Barack Obama gave an outstanding nomination acceptance speech last night at the close of the Democratic National Convention.

To me, this wasn’t Obama’s most moving or inspiring speech. His keynote address at the 2004 Convention was certainly more uplifting than this.

The distinguishing feature of this speech was its “meat and potatoes” content: it (a) laid out in detail what Obama would do if elected and (b) it made pointed attacks on the opposition.

This was not a motivational speech, but rather, a persuasive closing statement for why Barack Obama should be elected president. It made the stakes of the election clear. It showed who the good guys are, and who the bad guys are. It made the argument for change.

Two lines resonated with me. The first: “eight is enough.” Pop culture references like this one always add flavor to political speeches. For older voters, this is the kind of zinger that will stick in their heads. That’s going to make a great line for a t-shirt.

I also liked Obama’s comment that, based on McCain’s record of voting with Bush 90% of the time, American had a “ten percent chance of change” if McCain took office. For business professionals, that will be a catchy line.

The bottom line is, Obama made it absolutely clear why people should vote for him and against McCain. He gave specifics, he set goals. This wasn’t fluff.

Obama has made his case, and next week, McCain will make his. The battle is joined. Let the real campaigning begin.

Brief Convention Notes: Hillary, Forum on Black Politics, Michelle

It’s a sure sign of fame, when a person can be referred to by their first name, and everyone knows who is being talked about. So it is with Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama.

I can’t be more emphatic: Hillary Clinton gave a great speech yesterday. It had so many memorable lines, it’s difficult to pick out any one or two of them as prominent. But these parts of her speech were especially memorable for me:

..I will always remember the single mom who had adopted two kids with autism, didn’t have health insurance and discovered she had cancer. But she greeted me with her bald head painted with my name on it and asked me to fight for health care.

I will always remember the young man in a Marine Corps t-shirt who waited months for medical care and said to me: “Take care of my buddies; a lot of them are still over there….and then will you please help take care of me?”

I will always remember the boy who told me his mom worked for the minimum wage and that her employer had cut her hours. He said he just didn’t know what his family was going to do.

…I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?

That struck a chord with me, as it no doubt will with many of Clinton’s female supporters.

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Why Do Blacks Vote for Democrats? Inclusion and Diversity.

{This is the second in the series, “Why do Blacks for Democrats?” The other two posts on this subject are:
• Why Do Blacks Vote for Democrats? See Jesse Helms.
• Why Do Blacks Vote for Democrats? MLK, JFK, and LBJ.}

Why do African Americans vote overwhelmingly for Democrats over Republicans? One reason is that the Democratic Party is representative of the America that black people see, and the Republican Party isn’t.

This is illustrated by the following two photographs. The first shows the early field of Republicans candidates for the 2008 Presidential election. The second shows the early field of Democratic candidates.


Republican Candidates for President, 2008 (not in order): California Rep. Duncan Hunter, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain


Democratic Candidates for President, 2008: former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Sen. Joe Biden of Deleware, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio

The Republican candidates are all white males. The Democratic candidates include a white woman, a black male, a Hispanic male, and five other white males.

Other examples of Democratic diversity, and Republican non-diversity, abound.

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Were the Concern Trolls Right About the Harsh Democratic Primary?

The problem for Obama and Clinton: by ratcheting up their attacks on each other, they risk weakening the eventual nominee in the general election against McCain. They are certainly supplying the Republicans with a priceless amount of free advertising. Clinton’s “red phone” ads raising questions about Obama’s preparedness to be commander in chief, and Obama’s counterattack commercials challenging Clinton’s judgment, are likely to be re-aired by GOP politicos into the fall if she somehow manages to emerge as the nominee. Indeed, one reason for Clinton’s success on Tuesday appeared to be her campaign’s decision to attack Obama’s integrity and honesty—raising questions about his relationship with a Chicago real-estate magnate charged with extortion and his reported waffling over the NAFTA trade pact, as well as his readiness; exit polls showed that late deciders broke decisively for the New York senator.

…Clinton’s… wins (in Ohio, Texas, and Rhode island) made it probable the Democratic battle would go on for some time to come despite Obama’s seemingly insurmountable lead in pledged delegates and Clinton’s loss in Vermont on Tuesday.

from Newsweek, March 5, 2008

“Concern troll” is a term of derision that is applied to people who whiningly post statements of worry or concern on internet forums, without adding anything new or informative or enlightening to a discussion. Some “concern trolls” are pure “trolls”-as described on Wiktionary, they post on internet forums claiming to share the goals of forum members while deliberately working against those goals. They do this by claiming “concern” about group plans to engage in productive activity, urging members instead to attempt some activity that would damage the group’s credibility, or alternatively, to give up on the group’s goals or projects entirely.

The concern trolls were in full force during the Democratic primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. As Newsweek observed, the ire raised by the intensity of their fight led many to feel that the winner might be badly damaged in the general election campaign against John McCain.

Well, it looks like the concern trolls were right. A large of part of the media narrative during the Democratic Convention this week has been the dissatisfaction of Hillary supporters. John McCain has actually done a political ad featuring a former Clinton supporter who has gone over to the dark side now claims she will vote for John McCain.

It’s been a public relations mess for the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party.

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Factoid: Black Mayors of Cities with Population Over 50,000

This is a list of black mayors in cities with a population over 50,000. This is based on information from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The Joint Center describes itself as “one of the nation’s premier research and public policy institutions and the only one whose work focuses exclusively on issues of particular concern to African Americans and other people of color.”

Their black mayors list is here. I have updated the list; the Joint Center’s list was effective as of the end of 2007. This list should be correct as of August 2008. If readers have any updates to provide, please fell free to send them to us. Items in bold are known updates as of very early 2010 – but a number of entries are certainly outdated in 2010.

There are 45 cities on the list. African Americans are at least 40% of the population in 35 cities. Ten of the 45 mayors are female.

Here’s the list:
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