President Obama a Hit in Cleveland
When I finally got home from President Obama’s speech at Cuyahoga Community College’s Metro Campus here in Cleveland, I found a lot of people online complaining that MSNBC pundits had panned the speech. It was too long, they apparently said, and there was too much in it, too many ideas, and his delivery was a little less energetic than they liked and blah blah blah blah.
Let me tell you something: the people in the gymnasium at Tri-C did NOT agree. Yes, it was a friendly crowd, as Obama himself acknowledged during the speech. With tickets distributed through campaign offices, obviously a lot of volunteers and activists are going to snap them up. And of the 1500 packed into the gym (with more watching on screens in overflow rooms) more than half appeared to be African-American. Many were decked out in Obama T-shirts, hats, and buttons. Prolonged chants of “Four more years” preceded the President’s arrival and even interrupted his speech once or twice.
They listened attentively and hung on every word, cheered often, and gave him several standing ovations. And the applause was not in response to slogans or cheap shots: it was in response to important points and crucial ideas. (Congresswoman Betty Sutton was the first to leap to her feet when he mentioned keeping the auto industry alive with the bailout).
Congresswoman Betty Sutton with Strongsville veteran Martin Healy, who led the Pledge of Allegiance
The subject of the speech, which you can read or watch online, was fixing the economy. No, unlike the lying, out-of-context ads Mitt RMoney is running, the President did not say everything is great. Quite the reverse. He drew a clear contrast between RMoney’s economic plan — actually the Bush plan recycled on steroids — of rewarding the rich and allowing unlimited power to mega-corporations and hoping they do something for everyone else, and his own proposal to invest in education, infrastructure, manufacturing, and research to grow the economy by restoring financial stability for regular working people (e.g. “middle class,” but I hate that term). He pointed out that he was willing to work with anyone from any party who sincerely wanted to make everyone’s lives better.
Unfortunately, these days, the Republican Party is evicting those kinds of people. They’re pandering to people seething with anger and hostility, like the group of about 15 RMoneybaggers clustered on the corner of E. 30th and Community College Drive — all white men, mostly older — clutching RMoney signs and signs and bumper stickers expressing their hostility to women’s rights. They are pulling juvenile tricks like the RMoney bus that circled the Tri-C gym honking repeatedly.
RMoneybaggers' He Man Woman Haters Club
The President also brought up a contrast in philosophy that I think is at the core of the difference between Republicans and Democrats — that quick sound bite thing people are always demanding and claiming we Democrats don’t have. Democrats believe we are in this together. Republicans believe it’s every man for himself (we won’t talk about what they believe about women). It’s a vision of teamwork and cooperatively building a stronger country vs. selfishness and an obligation only to one’s self.
The President spoke eloquently about issues that impact the everyday lives of most Americans. That’s why it’s disappointing but typical that MSNBC apparently spent its wrap-up awarding style points instead of discussing the President’s ideas: Would they work? Did research bear out his contentions? What would their effect be? How could he most effectively put them into action? What about his depiction of RMoney’s policies? Was it accurate?
It seems like an honest analysis of content is the last thing the mainstream media attempts to do these days — why some candidates like RMoney and Josh “The Empty Suit” Mandel are constructing entire campaigns out of lies knowing the media probably won’t call them out (although it actually has been doing a good job of calling out Mandel). No wonder so much of the public votes out of ignorance and mistaken impressions of what candidates stand for.