Michelle Obama; Democrats Secured The Base

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[Op-Ed: Election 2008]

I would give the Democrats a B+ for the opening night. For the television audience there were too many lulls early in the evening that could have been better filled. 

First, they should have let former President Jimmy Carter speak. When you have former Presidents from your party that are still living and relevant you have to allow them to speak to the nation, especially when President Carter has a Nobel Prize.  He would have been a great speaker early last night. 

His post-Administration activities such as being involved with Habitat for Humanity, his involvement as an international election observer and his Nobel Prize allows former President Carter to speak as a statesman and not a politician.  He has been a real advocate and conduit for change on the world stage.

Former Vice-President Al Gore could have been used effectively last night as well.  Again, a Nobel Prize laureate from the Democratic Party, change agent, and statesman.  To have former Vice President Gore speak and endorse Senator Obama and then introduce former President Carter and have him speak and endorse Senator Obama would have been very powerful. 

Some are saying that the Democrats missed the opportunity to pound or attack the Republicans.

First, you can't attack your enemy when you don't have all of your own troops in line. You have to secure your base first.  Last night began that process.  Second, that’s not the type of politics that Senator Obama has been engaged in.  To have gone into attack mode last night would have been an obvious departure from the game plan and appeared as an act of desperation.

Senator Ted Kennedy was a very powerful and effective speaker.  He passed the torch of standard-bearer from the Kennedy’s to the Obamas.  This went a long way in bridging the gap in the party.  Those angry Hillary Clinton supporters should get over it and move on. 

The Democrats were more focused on --and rightfully so-- constructing the "we are all Democrats" message and introducing Senator Obama to a lot of folks who still don't know him--Senator Kennedy and Michelle did that.  All I can say about Michelle Obama’s speech is; it was perfect. 

She’s the new political woman on the horizon.  If she wants her own political career, it’s hers for the asking.  And those girls?  Beautiful!  That was a real moment in an otherwise tightly scri pted time.  Perfect!

A few final words on the selection of Senator Biden as Senator Obama’s running mate. Good choice; solid choice.  Now, if they can just get him to know when to shut up.

Some say that Biden’s 35 years in the Senate contradicts Senator Obama’s focus on change.  I don't see Biden as a contradiction to Obama as a change agent.  For the pundits to keep saying that, is a mistake.  Short of Revolution, change in government policy must come from within.  The electorate pressures their representatives from the outside and the representatives respond. 

It takes people with the experience and knowledge of how to draft legislation and get legislation approved that brings about change. You need those on the inside with the long term relationships to bring about effective and substantive change.

For example, President Lyndon Johnson was one of the greatest change agents in modern US history.  It was because of his experience as a Senator and Congressman that enabled him to get voting rights, civil rights and Great Society program legislations passed.

Johnson knew what arms to twist, buttons to push and when to twist and push.  Governor Tim Kaine does not bring that level of experience within the US Congress to be an effective change agent, nor do the other governors who had been mentioned.

Black Star News columnist Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer-Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “On With Leon,” a regular guest on CNN’s Lou Dobb’s Tonight, and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C.  Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: wjl3us@yahoo.com.
© 2008 InfoWave Communications, LLC.

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