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A. Peter Bailey, Journalist/Lecturer
Published: 10 September 2008

After closely monitoring presidential campaigns since 1968, I am now convinced more than ever that though the Democrats are usually masterful in the congressional politics arena, when it comes to presidential politics, they are just slightly above amateurs.
In campaign after campaign, except the two handled and won by Bill Clinton, the Democrats have lost to Republicans who are not exactly rocket scientists.
Their problems begin with the scheduling of their national convention. For some inexplicable reason, the Democrats always hold their convention first, thus providing the Republicans with the decided advantage of closely monitoring the Democratic convention and then adjusting their convention accordingly. The 2008 convention provides a classic example of why convening last is a plus.
I am convinced that after watching how upset many of the White women were, John McCain was inspired to choose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his potential vice-president. 
If the Republicans had convened first, it is a great possibility that he would have chosen someone else, probably a man. Instead he seized the opportunity to select a White woman who: has been a mayor and a governor, is a mother of five children -- one with special needs, another a 17-year-old pregnant teenager, and still another off to combat in Iraq. Her selection is practically all everyone has been talking about for going on two weeks.
Gov. Palin now has a similar position to the one held by Sen. Obama in his primary campaign against Sen. Clinton. Accusations of racism were hurled at any White person who opposed Sen. Obama, not by the candidate himself but by numerous of his campaign operatives and supporters. Now Gov. Palin's operatives and supporters are poised to hurl charges of "sexism" at anyone who opposes her right-wing ideological positions. 
Many Black people have given Sen. Obama a blank check to do whatever is necessary to win; many White people are probably going to give Gov. Palin a similar blank check because they want to see a White woman as Vice-President rather than a Black man as President.
Having no faith in the intelligence of the American electorate, for over a year I have been saying that if the Democrats nominated Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama as their 2008 presidential candidate, they were basically conceding the election to the Republicans. My position that the Democrats are about to blow another election has not changed.
The only segments I watched of the Democratic and Republican conventions were the speeches of Michelle Obama, Sen. Clinton, Bill Clinton, Gov. Palin, and Sen. McCain.  Mrs. Obama came off as eloquent, warm, and real when speaking about her family, much less so when speaking about the condition of America; Sen. Clinton's speech was not quite convincing to my ears but she did direct a profound question to her supporters who were still unenthused about Sen. Obama: 
"Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?''
Many of her supporters have yet to be asked to answer that intriguing question by members of the traditional press.
Bill Clinton provided a well-crafted, flawless analysis of the destructiveness of the Bush administration but he spoke in such a clinical style it gave me the impression that he still does not believe that Sen. Obama is qualified to be president.
Gov. Palin showed that she should not be underestimated because she is a skillful, ruthless political operative. The speeches by Senators Obama and McCain basically confirmed my belief that they are conventional politicians who have neither the vision nor wisdom to usher in the change they repeatedly talk about.  There was not a memorable line or phrase in the presentations delivered between the two of them. They would both be an improvement over the Bush administration but that does not require very much skill.

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MLK Breakfast 2023

Photos from The Skanner Foundation's 37th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast.