President Obama's acceptance speech Thursday night, the last day of the Democratic National Convention, was thick on policy and heavy on optimism. Framing the election as "a choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future," the US president urged the Americans not to turn the clock back on all the progressive initiatives he put in place in the past four years. "[Know] this, America," he said "Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I'm asking you to choose that future."
The current incumbent of the White House spelt out his goals for the next four years: "I'm asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country - goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit; a real, achievable plan that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity, and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation."
In rhetorical flight, Obama's speech probably did not reach the rarified heights it soared four years ago in the Mile High City - Denver - where the Democrat was first nominated for president. But that has more to do with the current economic realities. With the jobs growth still sluggish, Republicans have been giving the president grief on that issue since they took control of the House of Representatives 22 months ago.
Nevertheless, Obama did not forget to remind Americans some of his signature accomplishments, among them, the Detroit bailout, healthcare reform, ending of the war in Iraq, regaining of the American standing abroad and advances the United States made on the energy front. But a rare sight to behold was the sight of Obama playing offense on two issues that Republicans owned election after election: military and foreign policy.
Prior to the president's speech, the question many asked was whether the president would be able to match the two defining speeches Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton delivered on back-to-back nights, which were widely described as "grand slams." But the reactions by the Democratic faithful here at the Time Warner Cable Arena showed that Obama held his own.
It would be interesting to see to the kind of bounce Obama would get from the convention, one of the best-organized in recent times. Presidential candidates routinely get reasonable bounces immediately after conventions because of high and sustained media exposure. But this being a very close election, in which the number of undecided voters is historically low, it is possible that the president might not get a big boost, which is what happened to Mitt Romney after his party's convention last week. Multiple polls indicate that the Republican nominee did not get any significant bounce after his nomination in Tampa.
But certainly, Democrats have done their part in putting together a made-for-television convention, with not many hiccups and plenty of highlight reels, which include a number of memorable speeches, a cameo appearance by Obama on stage after Clinton finished his speech and the warm embrace of presidents 42nd and 44th. In terms of electoral impact, probably speeches by the Obamas and Clinton were most effective.
Indian Americans in Charlotte
The most visible member of the Indian American community in Charlotte was actor Kal Penn. The Harold and Kumar star, who spoke on Tuesday, was back in limelight again Thursday, when he hosted a web convention live stream, along with fellow Hollywood actors such as Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde and Aisha Tyler. Kamala Harris, the California Attorney General and co-chair of the rules committee, spoke on Wednesday - her first national prime time appearance.
The convention also saw the Democratic Party reaffirming its commitment to America's strategic ties with India. It "will continue to invest in a long-term strategic partnership with India to support its ability to serve as a regional economic anchor and provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region," the 2012 Democratic Party Platform, the manifesto of the party, says.
The 26,459-word document mentioned India twice more. Once in the section on climate change, where the platform points out that the "Obama administration has taken a leadership role in ongoing climate negotiations, working to ensure that other major economies like China and India commit to taking meaningful action."
The third reference to India is in the context of global financial crisis, especially on the importance the United States has accorded to G-20 and how "together, the nations of the G-20 brought the world economy back from the brink of another depression. "We have made the G-20 the premier forum for international economic coordination in recognition of the fact that 21st century economic discussions must include countries like China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil."
(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.)