Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Average Joe Democrat

I caught some of tonight's RNC convention coverage, though I missed President Bush's speech. It was annoying that Fred Thompson's speech wasn't even being covered by several of the networks, who were running their own commentary by their reporters during the speech, but I ended up seeing most of it on PBS. Thompson sounded good--better, as many have pointed out, than he did on the campaign trail.

But the speech I found interesting was Joe Lieberman's.

Don't get me wrong: I'm very glad that McCain wasn't able to select Lieberman to be his vice president. I don't agree with Senator Lieberman on the issue of abortion, and if McCain had indeed selected a pro-choice running mate, inside or outside the party, it would have made many people like me drop out of this election entirely.

I do question the pundits who say, though, as they did tonight, that McCain really, really, really wanted a pro-choice running mate. What was that we were talking about earlier today, regarding projection?

But as glad as I am that Lieberman won't be on a Republican ticket, his speech was worth hearing. In some ways it was rather surreal, given that he directly addressed Democrat and independent voters at one point, and compared Obama unfavorably to the country's first black president, Bill Clinton, at another. The crowd was eating it up; several times uproarious cheers erupted as Lieberman lauded McCain for his service, bipartisanship, and leadershop and, in one very deft, Alexander Pope-esque moment, damned Obama with very faint praise, indeed.

The Obama supporters have been vocal and visible, and their over-the-top use of messianic imagery to cast Obama as "The One" has been extremely easy to spot on the Internet as well as elsewhere. But there are a lot of "average Joe" Democrats out there who haven't necessarily committed their votes to him, and Obama's tendency to look down on corndog-eating, God-n-guns blue collar types who didn't get elite educations and who come from small towns with silly names isn't helping him any with this segment of the Democratic population.

The average Joe Democrats needed to hear this call from another "average Joe," telling them they could cross party lines in this election, vote their consciences, and align their votes with a war hero and a hockey mom who get them, who understand their lives, appreciate their concerns, have lived their struggles and can share a beer and pizza with them as they listen and take to heart what these voters are going through today. Obama should be careful not to underestimate the possibility that plenty of these voters can't relate to him at all, and who heard in Lieberman's voice tonight some of their own unexpressed frustrations and disappointments with their party.

Time will tell how effective this Lieberman speech was. I think plenty of average Joe Democrats were listening tonight, and will be thinking and talking about this for days to come.

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