Thursday Aug. 28, 2008 10:35 EDT
As one would expect them to be, virtually all of the prime-time speeches at the Democratic Convention have been -- from a rhetorical perspective -- very well-crafted and well-delivered. Bill Clinton's speech, in particular, deserves all the plaudits it is receiving, both in terms of content and delivery. But as competent, well-executed and even dramatic as the Convention has been, at least as striking is what has been missing.
First, there is almost no mention of, let alone focus on, the sheer radicalism and extremism of the last eight years. During that time, our Government has systematically tortured people using sadistic techniques ordered by the White House; illegally and secretly spied on its own citizens; broken more laws than can be counted based on the twisted theory that the President has that power; asserted the authority to arrest and detain even U.S. citizens on U.S. soil and hold them for years without charges; abolished habeas corpus; created secret prisons in Eastern Europe and a black hole of lawlessness in Guantanamo; and explicitly abandoned and destroyed virtually every political value the U.S. has long claimed to embrace.
Other than a fleeting reference to such matters by John Kerry in a (surprisingly effective) speech which most networks did not broadcast, one would not know, listening to the Democratic Convention, that any of those things have happened. Even our unprovoked and indescribably destructive attack on Iraq, based on purely false pretenses, has received little attention. Those things simply don't exist, even as part of the itemized laundry list of Democratic grievances about the Bush administration. The overriding impression one has is that the only things really wrong during the last eight years in this country are that gas prices are high and not everyone has health insurance. Those are obviously very significant problems, but they are garden-variety political issues which don't begin to capture the extremism that has predominated in this country under GOP rule, and don't remotely approach conveying the crises on numerous fronts the country faces.