An undecided voter on President Obama's convention

Summary:It's the Democrats. What could possibly go wrong?

This week, the Democrats held their convention. As you know, last week I covered the Republican convention in-depth. As an undecided voter, I was hoping that a clear winner would emerge, a party I could truly feel comfortable supporting.

Unfortunately, the only thing last week's GOP convention and this week's Democratic convention convinced me of is that I can't blindly follow one party or another. Each has points worthy of consideration, and each has policies and doctrines that make my skin crawl.

See also: Diary of an undecided voter (GOP convention edition)

Before the convention, I was worried about whether or not I'd have much to say about the Democrats. After all, President Obama and VP Biden are now well-known quantities as compared to the Republican newcomers.

I didn't have to worry. It's the Democrats. What could possibly go wrong?

Controversy over the party platform

The Democrats started off Tuesday night with a strong lineup. But then, Wednesday morning, it all went off the rails.

Parties have what are called "platforms," essentially the written mission statements of what the party stands for and what's important. Not many voters read the platforms, but they're used almost the same way we'd use a corporate backgrounder -- they provide guidance on the values and direction of the party.

Well, apparently someone in the Democratic party decided to replace the word "God" with the word "faith" and all hell broke loose. Speaking strictly personally, I believe in the separation of church and state. While everyone is entitled to their personal devotion, I don't think God belongs in any discussion of governance.

Apparently, I'm in the minority, because once "God" became "faith," the party faithful parted down the middle, ayes became boos, and the Republicans got yet more juicy talking points.

The Democratic party leadership quickly changed the platform back to include "God," and claimed it was all a typo, sort of like an act of God. You know, not their fault.

Then there was the question of whether the Democratic party considered Jerusalem the capital of Israel. You can't make this stuff up.

I'd rather make sure the 161 citizens in Jerusalem, Ohio can stay above the poverty line than worry about whether an American political party thinks Jerusalem is the capital of a sovereign state that's not ours. After all, everyone -- everyone -- in the Middle East is pretty much crazy. Let's get our own house in order first.

That hopey changey thing

Back in 2008, Candidate Obama had some of the best political slogans in history. "Yes we can" and "Change we can believe in." Sadly, since it's not clear the Democrats can claim they were fully successful at "yes we can," this year's campaign slogan is "Forward."

That's it. Forward. Not forward to the future, not forward to success, not forward to something this or even forward to something that. Just. Plain. Forward.

The signage in the crowd was equally bizarre. Although there are a few delegates who bring their own signs, convention signage is always a scripted affair. This time, about half the delegates held up blue signs saying "Forward." The other half had not-quite-red signs saying "Not back."

Seriously. "Not back." President Obama has almost constantly (and to some substantial degree, rightly) blamed our current economic woes on the preceding President. He's the one who seems to look back the most.

Given that the Republican ticket consists of relative newcomers (and -- with the exception of Condi Rice -- very few Bushies), it's not clear that a credible claim can be made that the GOP is looking back.

The President's record is one thing. But when it comes to being inspiring, it's not clear that President Obama holds a candle to Candidate Obama.

How hard could it have been to come up with something that's a little more somethin' somethin' than "Forward"?

Dead man talking

I love politics, but I hate tribute videos. Watching them always seems like a chore, but the Dems fielded a video tribute to former Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy that was actually quite good.

Kennedy is interesting, not just because of his long service in the Senate, and not because of the Kennedy legend and legacy, but because Mitt Romney ran against Ted Kennedy in 1994. Romney was defeated, of course, but a decade later went on to win the governorship of Massachusetts.

The interesting takeaway, beyond a reminder of just how good a pol Kennedy really was, is how liberal Romney sounded then by comparison to today. If you didn't know Romney was a Republican and you played back some of his statements, you'd be sure you were listening to another Democrat.

I guess that's change you can believe in. Or something.

Next up, the opening speakers: Rahm Emanuel and a guy named Castro.

Topics: Government, Government : US


In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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