By Jack Engelhard
Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in Denver ran for nearly an hour. Half of it could have been cut had he left out his rage against John McCain. By my count, he mentioned McCain 40 times, derisively, and that is no way to make friends and influence people. This was an angry speech, it was divisive, and so very surprising from the lips of a man whose theme is unity.
We could have used some healing.
Those of us out here who are mild-mannered Republicans, or on-the-fence Independents, were in search of a message to help us make up our minds, words to animate us toward this Democrat nominee, but all we got was politics as usual, and worse, resentment and mockery. This was not the Obama as advertised.
For his followers and believers, this was surely a triumph. The rest of us saw a tantrum. Half of these remarks were devoted to McCain.
This was not a class act.
We – some of us at least, enough of us to tip the balance – wanted to be won over, we wanted to be persuaded, but this cannot happen when the hero within the narrative comes across so mean-spirited. Had I made this movie – and after all, conventions, even Republican conventions, are scripted events, featuring producers, directors and finally the star himself — I would have insisted that McCain be left out of the screenplay altogether.
First, why give the “villain” the publicity? Second, mudslinging should be given to the minor characters. The hero should be above it all.
Less is more works for architecture and it works for literature and it should work for politics.
I kept waiting for the uplift and there was some of that but most of it was negative, a litany of all that is wrong with us, certainly all that is wrong with George W. Bush and John McCain. All right. Fair enough. But – to that Alec Guinness line from Lawrence of Arabia – “now the brightness.”
Where was the brightness? That was lost amid the fire and brimstone.
This particular voter was energized, and is still energized, by the mere fact that an African American could reach this level. This is glorious – and it’s about time!
But an act that heaps scorn grows thin.
I am writing this as no fan of Barack Obama but as no fan of John McCain, either. I am also writing this without resorting to smart aleck remarks re: the 85,000 gathered to celebrate a Greek or Roman festival. What’s at stake here is our country, so I am not feeling very humorous, and to repeat, I was ready to be seduced. Instead, I was thwarted by a brimful of scoffing.
Hillary Clinton– a couple of nights earlier – wasn’t much help, either. I’m all in favor of sisterhood. But enough of this, too. There are still some white males out there yonder. Frankly, this bashing of white males is getting tiresome, too. Not all of us are president of General Motors. Some of us even suffer like regular folk.
Speaking of white males, the choice of Joe Biden as Obama’s running mate adds zero to the ticket. Biden, for this purpose, is generic, opaque.
We’ll see what takes place when the Republicans show us their movie. I may be wrong about McCain, the dullest candidate of all time. Except for those ads produced by his PR staff, he’s been playing possum, like that Russian general in Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” Napoleon made all the right moves, brilliantly outflanking the Russians here, there and everywhere. Napoleon’s Grand Army won practically every battle as it marched toward Moscow. General Kutuzov was clumsy and kept retreating until he had Napoleon right where he wanted him. Maybe that’s what McCain has in mind.
This Democratic National Convention featured one true moment, only one true and honest moment, unrehearsed and unscripted, and it was warm and wonderful, a director’s dream. That happened after Michelle Obama made her speech and she was hooked up by satellite with her husband who was in another town, outside Denver. They tried to speak but their two gorgeous daughters kept interrupting, as kids do.
That was a winning moment. We could use more, more honesty, from either candidate. Each might well learn from the mouth of babes.
Jack Engelhard’s latest novel THE BATHSHEBA DEADLINE, now available in paperback, places journalism at the center of our war on terror. Engelhard wrote the international bestselling novel INDECENT PROPOSAL that was translated into more than 22 languages and turned into a Paramount motion picture starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. He can be reached, and his Works can be viewed, at his website, www.jackengelhard.com.