Return of the Jedi

Night two of the Democratic National Convention wrapped yesterday with an incredible speech by former President Bill Clinton that will likely have people talking for some time to come. Think of it as the Democratic equivalent to the Eastwood speech… but informative, intelligent and really fucking great. But first, let’s take a look back at night one!

Democratic Newark, New Jersey Mayor Corey Booker truly kicked off the festivities on Tuesday, announcing the party’s platform.

I cannot remember the last time I was as energized by an appearance as I was while watching Mayor Booker. He brought more passion and conviction to the podium during one 11-minute speech than the GOP brought during all three days of their convention last week.

Showcasing how truly different the parties are, the platform proudly defends a woman’s right to choose, the acceptance of same-sex marriage, innovation in science, appropriately taxing the wealthiest incomes, removing tax breaks that ship jobs overseas and rebuilding the middle class.

I have to admit, I was nearly out of my seat screaming right alongside with Mayor Booker, “This IS our platform!” For a party that has allowed itself to be pushed around by the GOP into ill-advised compromises such as the extension of the Bush tax cuts and the debt ceiling debacle, it’s great to see the spine stiffen up and the balls drop.

Of course, the platform created a temporary controversy among conservatives and Democrats when it was revealed that the words “Jerusalem” and “God” were dropped from the platform text.

Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Melanie Roussell explained, “As the White House said several months ago, the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians – which we also said in the 2008 platform.”

The omittance of the word “Jerusalem” did not lessen the U.S. support for Israel and I fail to see how anybody could come to the conclusion it had when you take into account the current administration has given nearly $10 billion dollars in military assistance to the country over the past three years.

During an appearance on Fox News, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak commented last year on relations between Israel and the Obama administration: “I can hardly remember a better period of American support and backing, and Israeli cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now.”

Further support for Israel can be found in the platform itself. When it comes to Iran the platform reads: The President is committed to using all instruments of national power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Both words were re-inserted the following day by party vote. Eric Bolling, Fox News co-host of “The Five,” was quick to take credit for it, citing the network’s tense interview between anchor Bret Baier and Dick Durbin (D-IL) over the issue the night before as the reason behind the correction. Like most things on Fox, Bolling was wrong. It was President Obama who called for the vote.

The number 4.5 million made the rounds of the convention like a stripper at a frat party. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel both cited the number through out the night on Tuesday, referring to new jobs created under the Obama administration.

The number is accurate, but it is a private sector jobs number (as noted during Mayor Emanuel’s speech). There has been a loss of nearly 1 million public sector jobs since President Obama took office.

With a focus on the public sector, President Obama’s American Jobs Act would have added 1.9 million jobs to the economy according to Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. Our economy and job market would be in a very different place today if the Act had not been blocked by congressional Republicans.

Without question, the MVP of night one was First Lady Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama gave an incredibly personal speech, speaking of her father’s multiple sclerosis and the student debt she and her husband acquired during their time at college, both stories showcasing the positive policies of her husband’s administration.

She also touched on the issues facing women in today’s country, recalling the work history of President Obama’s grandmother: “And for years, men no more qualified than she was – men she had actually trained – were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack’s family continued to scrape by.”

This served as a reminder of the President’s continued support for the Paycheck Fairness Act for women (which every Republican voted against) and his signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (an Act the GOP initially blocked).

The First Lady’s speech was so inspiring, the crowd resurrected the 2008 Obama campaign slogan, “Yes, we can,” passionately shouting it in unison.

Yes we can? You’re goddamn right we can.

Night two saw the Democratic Party take the GOP’s war on women’s healthcare head on with such speakers as Elizabeth “Libby” Bruce and President of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards, who said:

“Two years ago, when John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Todd Akin and the Tea Party took control of the House of Representatives, they promised to create jobs and jump-start the economy. But, instead, on day one, they came after women’s health. And they haven’t let up since.”

According to the non-profit Guttmacher Institute, 2011 saw a record number of more than 1,100 introduced reproductive health provisions among the fifty states.

Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law School student who was barred from the House hearings on the contraception mandate, delivered one of the most powerful (and most haunting) speeches of the night.

The finale of night two saw former President Bill Clinton come out swinging at the GOP ticket as if it were a piñata at a six year old child’s birthday party.

Clinton took a common sense approach while addressing the poorly thought-out right-wing policies, and spoke in a manner as if he were sitting across the table from you.

One of the (many) highlights was when Clinton destroyed the misleading argument we heard last week from Paul Ryan and others that President Obama has funneled away $716 billion dollars from Medicare, weakening the program:

During the 48 min. runtime, no stone was left unturned as Bubba took on jobs, the economy and energy, among a host of other subjects.

On Obama’s history of bipartisanship and cooperation:
“Look at his record. He appointed Republican secretaries of defense, the Army, and transportation. He appointed a vice president who ran against him in 2008. And he trusted that vice president to oversee the successful end of the war in Iraq and the implementation of the Recovery Act.”

On the history of job creation between the two political parties:
“Well, since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private- sector jobs. So what’s the job score? Republicans: twenty-four million. Democrats: forty-two [million].”

On if we are better today than when President Obama took office four years ago:
“When President Barack Obama took office, the economy was in freefall. It had just shrunk 9 full percent of GDP. We were losing 750,000 jobs a month. Are we doing better than that today? The answer is yes.”

Former President Clinton went on to cite that “employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend again, and in a lot of places, housing prices have even begun to pick up.”

Last night saw what I predict to be the end of several major GOP talking points for independent voters. This speech was simply a tour de force.

For the first time in this election season, the Democratic Party has revealed its hunger and determination to win this November. You can believe that they are a party that will double-down on people, not failed policies, and a party that is looking forward, not backward.

The GOP may not have gotten the reinvention they desired, but the Democrats got the reinvigoration they needed.

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