Reflections on the Democratic Convention 8-29-08

Reflections on the
Democratic Convention

the speeches of

Hillary Clinton and Barack


 Richard J. Garfunkel

I expected no less
from the greatest woman in the world. I expected no less from one of the best
and brightest of our time. Linda and I met her a few years ago in Scarsdale, and I was
astounded and flattered when she said, “hello Richard,” to me. I was mesmerized
by her famous speech at Wellesley
College many years ago
and I am still one of her greatest admirers today. It is no wonder that she had
the support of millions of millions of voters. I remember campaigning with her
in Mount Vernon when she first ran for the
United States Senate with my friend Rosemary Uzzo,
who was her co-chairperson for Westchester
County. I remember the
electricity she generated when she and Big Bill visited the Scarsdale
Mid-Chester YM & WHA a few years ago.

It is not easy to run for office, and over the past 39 years or so, I
was able to meet many national and statewide candidates like Hubert Humphrey,
Frank Church, Michael Dukakis, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Mario Cuomo,
Howard Samuels, Charles Schumer, Liz Holtzman, Richard Ottinger and countless
others. Politics is a tough business, not for the faint-hearted, and there is
only one opening for each job every election cycle. In the distant past some
women were able to get into political office through their husband’s name. Some
like Margaret Chase Smith did, and were quite accomplished. Others came and
went. Today we are blessed with many talented women from every corner of the
nation, who made it on their own, and they represent our country quite well and
affectively. Many said that Hillary’s election to the Senate was wholly
dependent on her name, and that she didn’t really earn it on her own. Well, I
for one find that incredibly offensive. She had been a great First Lady of
Arkansas, a great First Lady of America, and is one of the outstanding Senators
in Washington
today. For my money she ran a great campaign right to the end. She was the very
essence of “The Happy Warrior.”  Despite all the insults and crassness
thrown her way by people like Chris Matthews and others she endured. Even
tonight women like Campbell Brown and Gloria Borgias couldn’t wait to sharpen
their nails and extend their vapid tongues. It must be a jealousy thing. Fred
“Beetle” (Brain) Barnes on FOX News bad mouthed her. What else is new? What
were these talking head fools listening to?

Meanwhile, Linda
and I backed her from day one, and we were quite disappointed that she was not
the party’s nominee or Obama’s choice for Vice-President. But we are both
realists and being long-time politically involved people we knew “it is what it
is.” Tonight she electrified a basically moribund convention. I thought that
Governor Warner’s keynote address was incredibly mediocre and forgettable. He
certainly was no Frank Church, Ted Kennedy, Mario Cuomo, or Barbara Jordan. But
he was lucky that he was followed by Senator Clinton, Because of her brilliant
eloquence, his speech, whether it was rated by the pundits, good or bad, will
be quickly forgotten. Tomorrow the headlines will be all HILLARY Conquers All
she Surveys!

Certainly after
such a bravura performance, there will be a period of enhanced “buyer’s regret”
from many delegates and millions of Americans. But, all in all, she did what
she could to rally a basically split party behind Barack Obama. I look forward
to Bill Clinton’s ringing endorsement and Obama’s acceptance speech. This
family will certainly vote straight Democratic in the fall, and hopefully the
country will wise up and throw the Bush Brigands and their surrogate John
McCain into the dustbin of history. Enough is enough!

More than 70 years
ago, FDR stood in the rain at Franklin Field, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, and accepted the
nomination of the Democratic Party for the 1936 presidential race. More than
100,000 intrepid souls braved the inclement weather to hear FDR proclaim that
“this generation has a rendezvous with destiny.”  

This famous passage
has echoed through the portals of history. FDR said, “Philadelphia is a good city in which to write
American history.”  At one point during his address he lost his balance as
the startled crowd reflected its anxiety. But the “master” quickly regained
both his balance and his composure, as he went on to speak of the ”economic
royalists” who had helped drive the country into the Great Depression, and how
the “clouds of suspicion, tides of ill will and intolerance gather darkly in
many places.” How correct FDR was then and how prescience he was in view of
what we face today. Near the end of his great acceptance speech, FDR had a
sense of things to come when he mentioned “a mysterious cycle in human events.
To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This
generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.” History has reaffirmed,
time and again his brilliance and foresight.

There are many
parallels to that bygone era, we seem them in the concentration of wealth in
the hands of the few, the decline of our middle class, the collapse of our
housing market, the speculators manipulating our energy markets, and the
decline and fall of many of our lending institutions and brokerage houses.

As FDR said in
1933, “We need change, and change now!” Last night Barack Obama put the
argument squarely on the table. Do we need more of the same? Do we need more of
the Reagan-Bush–Laffer curve economic voodoo? Do we need more of the same old
economic royalism of McKinley, Taft, Coolidge, Hoover and the other GOP failures of the
past? The answer is a resounding no!

We have a choice
before us, whether to go down that old trodden path of flat-earth thinking,
fear of the unknown, and the dark prejudice of hatred, or the new highway that
beckons us into a new era of cooperation, understanding and enlightenment. The
choice is ours this November like it was back in 1936. The future is in our
hands and in the ballot box. Let us not squander another opportunity.



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