September 7 2012
Fulsome Speeches: Not Just Waiting for Superman in Charlotte!
One of the most disturbing things about the Democratic convention that just ended was the adulation. Hey, the Republicans like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan—really, really like them.
But one didn’t see in Tampa the kind of awe that was almost palpable in Charlotte. Added to that, all this is directed at a man who hasn’t delivered on his promises.
Notes New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin:
Folks, we’ve entered Dear Leader territory.
Richard Cohen, the Washington Post’s sometimes maverick liberal columnist, was taken aback by Vice President Joe Biden’s fulsome praise of his boss:
Biden delivered a speech so full of over-the-top praise, so fawning in its hushed approach to Obama’s greatness, so in awe of his courage, so admiring of his character and so impressed with his indomitability that, at long last, the speech that Jack Valenti gave about his boss, President Lyndon Johnson, can be retired. “I sleep each night a little better, a little more confidently, because Lyndon Johnson is my president,” Valenti said in 1965. Biden is so thrilled with Obama it’s a miracle he can sleep at all.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you, bravery resides in the heart of Barack Obama,” Biden said. “And time and time again, I witnessed him summon it. This man has courage in his soul, compassion in his heart, and steel in his spine.” You would be excused for thinking that Biden was talking about another man of steel, the one who’s “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”
Why didn’t somebody at the White House stop this before Biden got up and delivered an embarrasing speech (but not at all embarrassing to the tear-stained true believers in the convention hall!)?
The reason dawns on Cohen:
But no, someone at the White House knows that Obama believes what Biden said about him. He is as great as Biden allowed. He is just underappreciated. In fact, Biden’s speech supported stories about Obama’s arrogance, his deep belief in himself and his immense and almost miraculous virtues. I imagined Obama beaming. I felt myself gagging.
Two things seem to me to be at play here: One is the elevation of the political class, something that happens when government expands and is seen as the solution to all our problems, and the other is quite simply what Cohen sees as the president’s arrogance.
We can’t do anything about the latter, but we can work hard to get government back to the appropriate size.
One other important point: Along with the tendency to elevate President Obama to super-human status--something unusual in American politics, though he is certainly not the first politician to have an outsized ego--has come the vilification of those of us who don’t share his views.
This is poisonous to discourse and I’m afraid that, at a time when there are serious issues that must be debated in the public arena, it was encouraged at the Democratic convention. Goodwin writes:
The system is rigged. America is unjust. Opportunity is dead. You didn’t build that.
Dammit, where’s mine?
Oh, and Republicans are the people who rigged the system. They’re trying to take away your rights to vote, to health care, to education, to housing. They hate women, gays and immigrants. They don’t pay their fair share and they’re un-American.
Barack Obama lights candles, Mitt Romney spreads darkness, and Osama bin Laden is dead.
There, I saved you the time of watching the Democratic convention. For three grating days, demands for more government spending were coupled with sweeping character assassinations of Romney. The GOP is not just wrong; it is immoral.
At least, there was some comic relief.
Joe Biden said his father loves Barack Obama--or would, if he were alive.