Artur Davis Raises The Speech Bar

The speeches at the Republican National Convention have gotten more compelling as the evening has worn on.

The story line behind the speech of Artur Davis is particularly interesting.  Davis is a Harvard-educated lawyer who served as a Democratic Congressman from Alabama for four terms.  He was one of the first significant politicians to endorse Barack Obama for the presidency, and he made one of the nominating speeches at the 2008 Democratic convention.  But Davis, a moderate, became concerned about the direction of the country under the President.  He voted against the Affordable Care Act — the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to do so — and then ran, unsuccessfully, for the Democratic nomination for the governorship of Alabama.

Davis later moved to Virginia, and began rethinking his political affiliations.  Tonight he came to the Republican convention and declared that he is a Republican . . . and then gave a speech about why he has changed his mind about who to support for the presidency.  With practiced cadence and strong imagery, Davis sought to rise above what he called the cacophony of angry voices and speak directly to those who are undecided, or wavering in their support for President Obama, and convince them to join him.

I’m not sure whether the comments of a person who has so recently changed parties will be persuasive — time will tell, I suppose — but Kish and I both thought it was the most interesting speech so far.

Watching The Convention On C-SPAN

Kish and I are watching the Republican Convention tonight, on C-SPAN.  It’s great TV, largely because it’s completely unfiltered — just the convention feed itself, with no talking heads to interpret or spin things for us.

What do you learn if you watch a political convention in real time?  For one thing, the United States is still a regional country.  Every speaker we’ve seen tonight has displayed their own unique accent, from the tongues of New England, to those of the Midwest, to the those of the rolling Plains states.  And, even with the continuing growth of the federal government, we’re still a country of individual states.  Every political speaker so far tonight has boasted of the accomplishments of their state and cited the stories of individuals and businesses from their states to illustrate their criticisms of the Obama Administration.

We’ve heard a number of speeches so far, and we also can attest to one other thing:  there aren’t that many great political orators out there — or for that matter, many great speechwriters.  Still, it’s an interesting exercise.  If you want to learn about what Republicans and Democrats really think is important, what better way to do so than watch the conventions those parties have scripted so carefully, seeing those conventions as the delegates themselves do?