The buzz today is that Sen. John McCain is going to have to produce the kind of dynamic speech counter-intuitive to his personality in order to topple his VP pick Gov. Sarah Palin’s speech last night. I think McCain has a bigger obstacle. His speech doesn’t just need to upstage Palin’s speech, it needs to upstage Sen. Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, and that will be no small task.

As Emily and I watched the RNC last night she said, “Is everyone there white?” Sad, but true observation. One of the things I loved about the camera shots from the DNC was the diversity of the individuals in attendance. The audience in Denver was populated with young and old, black and white, male and female. This wasn’t the case in Minneapolis. There were lots of young and old, male and female, but they were mostly white. America is a kaledioscope of nationalities and it saddens me that there isn’t a better balance of minority representation in Republican party. The RNC is on national television for crying out loud. Nothing about the crowd in attendance screams “Republicans care about minorities and minorities have a voice in this party”. Maybe they should have paid some minorities to attend (tongue planted firmly in cheek).

As I listened to Barack Obama’s speech last week one of the things I loved is his call for bipartisan cooperation. He shows genuine respect to John McCain (though the same isn’t true of the way he speaks about George W. Bush) and McCain’s love for his country. He even seems sincere in his admiration for McCain. But there are two things worth noting here. First, even though Obama’s is courting bipartisan cooperation, his own voting record in the Senate indicates that he consistently aligns himself with the Democratic position on most every issue, voting along party lines about 95% of the time. Second, while I appreciate the courtesy and respect that Obama has shown to McCain’s patriotism and love for the United States as well as Gov. Palin in calling the media to back off the children of each candidate, Republicans will severely undermine their ability to win this election by showing Obama the same respect. They can’t paint a picture of Obama as a patriot or they will lose this election.

It is clear to me the Barack Obama has his fingers planted firmly on the pulse of America. The cleverness of his campaign is that he consistently talks about issues that people really care about. Obama is a charismatic voice for the disenfranchised. He talks about the issues that impact the majority of Americans personally. This isn’t to say that Americans don’t care about hot-button issues such as abortion, stem-cell research and gay marriage. Most do. But they don’t care about these issues the way that they care about the economy, education, health care, and social security because, for most Americans, they live distant lives from the hot-button issues. In other words, the Democrats get that prosperity and comfort are the most prized American virtues.

As I listened to Obama’s speech in Denver I couldn’t help but sense that he vastly overestimates his ability to bring about the sweeping change in Washington politics that he promises. I was amazed at how often Obama said, “I will…” as he talked about stabilizing and growing the economy, decreasing unwanted pregnancies, strengthening our military, severing our dependence upon foreign oil in ten years, eradicating the terrorists who threaten to harm US interests and more. Seriously, only an egomaniac would put some much confidence in one man’s ability to fix a system that is obviously broken.

But I have to applaud Obama for doing what Palin didn’t do and what I hope McCain does tonight when he accepts the Republican nomination for the Presidency of the United States. Obama took his shots at McCain and the Bush administration, but he did so in the context of also stating how he proposes to change what can only be said to be an almost disastrous eight years under Bush’s leadership. Obama talked about the issues that are important to the average American. The economy is worse now than it was 8 years ago. The average American is $2000 poorer annually under this administration while the Clinton administration made us an average of $7500 richer. We are engaged in an international conflict we were led into by bad intelligence and information. More and more US jobs are being outsourced. The dollar is so weak internationally that foreign interests are gobbling up real estate and American corporations at bargain basement prices. Gas and food costs are soaring.

Let’s be clear: Obama won’t be able to fix all of these issues alone. Neither with John McCain. But Obama spoke clearly about how he intends to try to fix them. McCain must do the same tonight.

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