CHARLOTTE: After getting pummeled during the Republican National Convention in Tampa last week, it was finally time for the Democrats to make their case. And that is what one witnessed in Charlotte on Tuesday, the first day of the Democratic National Convention. Speaker after speaker made eloquent and powerful cases to the American people for giving President Barak Obama four more years.
There were several speakers that stood out, but none more than San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. Many in the Democratic Party circles and the media see Castro as someone who could become America's first president of Hispanic origin. On Tuesday night, he reminded one and all of the keynote speech the then-Senate candidate Barak Obama delivered at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, which paved the way for his rise to presidency four years later. Both Castro and Patrick, who succeeded Mitt Romney as the Massachusetts governor, eviscerated the Republican's record piece-by-piece.
So did former White House Chief of Staff and Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and former Ohio governor Ted Strickland. "Mitt Romney has so little economic patriotism that even his money needs a passport. It summers on the beaches of the Cayman Islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps," said Strickland, referring to the Republican nominee's bank accounts in those countries. But the best case for Obama was made by Michelle Obama, who made a stirring speech that effectively reintroduced her husband. Not that after being president for four years, Obama needed any re-introduction to the American public. But with a masterful speech, the first lady did just that.
Indian American presence
The Democratic Party might not have Indian American governors in its ranks - at least not yet - but the community's presence was conspicuous on the opening day of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. One of the main prime-time speakers Tuesday night was Indian American actor Kal Penn, who worked as an associate director at the White House Office of Public Engagement at the beginning of the Obama presidency. The Harold and Kumar star spoke immediately after Rahm Emmanuel, the former White House Chief of Staff and Mayor of Chicago, addressed the gathering.
Penn was speaking mainly to the American youth. "I can now legally register you to vote," he said, addressing those who recently turned 18. In the speech, which was tinged with humor, the actor listed a number of accomplishments by the president. "I have worked on a lot of fun movies, but my favorite job was having a boss who gave the order to take out Bin Laden. So thank you, invisible man in the chair," Penn said taking a dig at Clint Eastwood, who spoke to an invisible Obama at the Republican National Convention last week.
Penn was not the only Indian American to grab the headline on Tuesday. Kamala Harris, the Attorney General of California, presented the rules committee report at the convention, along with Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, a rising star in the Democratic Party. The two are the co-chairs of the Rules Committee, which, as the name indicates, decided the convention rules. Harris, whose mother, Shyamala Gopalan, came to the United States from Tamil Nadu, is a former U.S. District Attorney. She was elected as Attorney General of the most populous US state in November 2010.
Beyond the beautifully crafted political speeches and the carefully designed optics, American political conventions are great carnivals. The 2012 Democratic National Convention is no exception. Tens of thousands of people have been pouring in to Charlotte since the Labor Day weekend, among them 6,000 delegates and some 15,000 members of the media. Most of the major events are taking place at the three convention venues: Time Warner Cable Arena, the Bank of America Stadium - where the president will speak on Thursday night - and the Charlotte Convention Center. But on the sidelines of these events, scores of venues in Charlotte are hosting more than a thousand events, small and big, many of them restricted to invitees or those who buy tickets. Charlotte - a city of 750,000, which is slightly bigger than Noida - is expected to rake in $150 million from the convention.
Since landing here at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Monday afternoon, I have attended more than a dozen convention-related events, including a few official events, notably a briefing by Jim Messina, the Obama campaign manager, and receptions hosted by the Democratic Governors' Association, the National Democratic Institute and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. Dozens of diplomats attended the event hosted by NDI, which is affiliated to the Democratic Party and supports democracy and civil society movements internationally. Speaking of diplomats, one of the most prominent envoys in town is Nirupama Rao, India's ambassador to the United States. One event I missed - because of the rain - was a reception hosted by US-India Political Action Committee, a bipartisan group headed by Sanjay Puri. (Global India Newswire)
(Frank Islam, co-author of the book Renewing the American Dream: A Citizens Guide, is a member of the 2012 Democratic National Convention Host Committee. Views expressed in this column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the International Business Times.)