Thursday, August 28, 2008

In Praise of C-SPAN

I've spent the past two evenings riveted to C-SPAN (in normal times, an oxymoron), watching a succession of great speeches at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. The oratorical high points have been speeches by Montana's Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer, John Kerry, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. There has been so much passion on display, so much intelligence, so much vision for a better and stronger and more upright America: an America that cares for its most vulnerable citizens; honors its veterans; recognizes and respects the rights of women; repudiates torture; and leads the world in addressing global security issues like climate change and HIV-AIDS. Bill Clinton had the best turn of phrase of the convention so far when he spoke about an America that "leads by the power of its example, not by the example of its power."

The Democratic vision for America has been like yesterday's rain after weeks and weeks of drought.

Unfortunately, if you haven't been watching on C-SPAN, you will have missed John Kerry's speech to the convention. If you've been watching on the networks, you will have been subjected to nattering news personalities talking across the speeches, filtering out the content and the passion, serving up colorless commentary in place of the real issues and the real news. Do we need Tom Brokaw to tell us that Bill Clinton gave an unenthusiastic speech, when we have contradictory evidence—a great and impassioned speech, and an enthusiastic endorsement of Obama—right before our eyes? The media has a script—Democratic disunity—that it desperately clings to despite the real drama of unity and far-reaching vision that the Democrats are actually presenting at the convention. America needs to start using its own brain, not a brain borrowed from a pundit.

Here, for those of you who missed it, is Sen. John Kerry at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Listen especially to what he says about the difference between Senator McCain and candidate McCain.

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New Poem: "Phrasebook"

My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .