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.

Why? Because it speaks of compassion. I know this is sexist to say, but compassion and empathy are more associated with women than men. Even if they supported Clinton, the people hearing this can’t help but be moved by this call to arms, this urging to help and heal others that transcends partisanship, whether inside or outside the Democratic Party.

The Clinton message: if you care about people, vote for Obama. I don’t know if it will work for all of Clinton’s supporters, but I have no doubt it will work for a lot of them.

I myself was electrified by this closing passage to Clinton’s speech:

This is the story of America. Of women and men who defy the odds and never give up.

How do we give this country back to them?

By following the example of a brave New Yorker , a woman who risked her life to shepherd slaves along the Underground Railroad.

And on that path to freedom, Harriett Tubman had one piece of advice.

If you hear the dogs, keep going.

If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.

If they’re shouting after you, keep going.

Don’t ever stop. Keep going.

If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

Amen to all of that!

Politico held a forum on Monday featuring House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, radio/TV host Tavis Smiley, and Dr. Cornel West. (hmmm… no black women?) They had a great conversation on politics in general and black politics in particular.

Videos from the forum are here at Politico’s Convention Conversations page. Refer to the videos titled Convention Conversations, Monday, Part 1, 2, and 3.

An article about the forum discussion is here.

Finally, I thought Michelle Obama did a fine job in her convention speech on Monday. I don’t think anybody will vote against Obama because they don’t like Michelle. But it is important to eliminate any and all negativity that surrounds the Obamas, or at least, to eliminate as much as possible.

I think Michelle accomplished that. The thing that came out of her speech, for me, was the idea of family. Instead of being this stereotyped angry black woman, she was a proud mother and proud wife, with hope for the future. That’s something everyone can relate to. A Huffington Post piece with various links concerning her speech is here.

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