Tag Archives: Democrats

Midterm Elections are Democracy’s Game 7. You better #vote. I already did. Once is enough. Don’t forget. It’s the only real power you have. Don’t waste it. #Vote.

I was at the #SFGiants parade last week and saw the massive throngs of fans there. I rode on the bus with the Panda, San Francisco’s baseball idol. But what if baseball were politics? What politician would command this today?  Anybody? Or is the faith in our democracy so low, they’d be lucky to get a tenth of this kind of adulation.



Seeing all those people made me wonder  how many of then might actually do something in the not so distant future that’s really important– like vote in the Midterm elections.

Most people forget,  or don’t bother.  Even when they’re registered.  And the rain? Biggest vote suppressor since Jim Crow.

I started thinking this when I saw  Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the parade. It was raining on her.

And I caught her in a moment where the exuberance of the parade had paused for a second.

And I wondered if she were thinking how when all this was over, she would have to inevitably think about Tuesday.  Or maybe she was thinking about Tuesday for a brief unguarded second.

I’ve actually talked to Nancy many times in the past. So I went up to her car by her security folks and was able to talk briefly with her.  When I asked her about the election on Tuesday she had a terse response. “We’ll see. We’re working hard on that,” she said.  And then the security guy brushed me away.

Pelosi  wasn’t sounding much like a former speaker about to regain power once the Democrats take over the House. May not be in the plans. Already, I’m hearing from insiders about the Senate. They say if the Democrats lose there, it may be a relief because then the Dems can blame the Republicans wholeheartedly.

That’s some consolation for the Dems. From half-blame to no-blame.

Like I said, wherever you are, whoever you vote for, do vote on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Sports fans, it’s Democracy’s Game 7.




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The President’s Speech: Obama’s New Deal–America’s Basic Bargain

(An excerpt from my blog post at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund website).

How good was President Barack Obama’s speech? In many ways, he’s hurt by the same thing that hurts all exceptional people of color who have done extraordinary things. You’re always hampered by such high expectations. And no one is expecting you to get there, again.

With Obama, we’ve been to the oratorical mountain top so many times before. But his acceptance speech this time around was just slightly different.  

At least, no one is struggling to offer such tepid praise like “it was as good as he could do,” as people did with Mitt Romney.

No, Obama gave a fine speech. But in Charlotte this week, his convention surrogates just happened to give a slightly better political speech (Bill Clinton), and a slightly better personal speech (Michelle Obama).

Considering what came before him, the president wasn’t on the ropes. He didn’t have to WOW us in Day Three’s finale.

But his message had to be a little different than the others, too.  He is, after all, the incumbent Commander-In-Chief (which he reminded us matter-of-factly, mostly by honoring our troops throughout his speech, something the GOP failed to do at its convention).

So here was Obama’s mission of the night: In a political season where the over-riding issue is a philosophical one about government, it’s size and its commitment to its people, President Obama simply had to make the case for government and our democracy.

More than just a policy speech, he was giving the civics lesson for our time, making the case for no less than liberty and justice for all— not the Republican idea of liberty and justice for some.

It became the framework of the speech, as the president laid out an “us vs them” choice  “between two fundamentally different visions for the future.”

Said Obama: “Ours is a fight to restore the values that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known, the values my grandfather defended as a soldier in Patton’s Army; the values that drove my grandmother to wrok on a bomber assembly line while he was gone.

They knew they were part of something larger—a nation that triumphed over fascism and depression; a nation where the most innovative businesses turned out the world’s best products, and everyone shared in the pride and success—from the corner office to the factory floor. My grandparents were given the chance to go to college, buy their first home, and fulfill the basic bargain at the heart of America’s story: the promise that hard work will pay off, responsibility will be rewarded, that everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules—from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, D.C.

“I ran for President because I saw that basic bargain slipping away.”

The basic bargain is Obama’s New Deal.

But we all have to believe we’re in this together and “part of something larger.” It was a sense of community you got from just looking at such a diverse and inclusive convention.  

For Asian Americans, you could see it in the crowd. We were a part of this. And then there was Konrad Ng, the president’s Asian American brother-in-law on the stage at the end looking for someone to hug.  You didn’t see anything like that in Tampa.

Nor did you hear anyone talk like the president did last night in a message to all Americans about what it means to be a citzen of this country.


Bill Clinton’s whale of a speech, and more ruminations about #DNC2012, Day 2

In the 80s, a young Governor  Bill Clinton gave a speech at a DNC and the biggest  applause line he got was when he said ,”In closing…..”

This week he went over by about 20 minutes and no one would have minded if he took another 200.

Let that be a lesson about political fate and ambition. When you lose or have a bad day, you can come back, and have them all eating out of your hand.

Bill Clinton did that on day 2 of the DNC, making the case for Barack Obama like no other. He brought the Democrats back to a sense of moderation that used to get Clinton and his blue-dog  DLC gang a lot of  grief from “progressives.”

Now when the GOP and the Right have taken on the party of hate and extremism, take-aways and divisiveness,  the Clinton way doesn’t look so conservative.

In fact, when Clinton talked about “constructive cooperation” and admiration for Eisenhower and both Bushes, he expanded the Democrats to the middle right, and it still seemed far left compared to today’s GOP.

In the roll call vote, when Barry Goldwater’s granddaughter spoke for AZ and mentioned how her grandfather wouldn’t recognize the GOP, and she’s right. He wouldn’t. A moderate Republican of old would be right at home with a big broad Democratic Party–the kind Clinton was carving out on Day 2.

If Day 1 was about America’s diversity and Democratic family values,  Day 2 was about expanding the definition of inclusion to encompass the broad middle for all:  Not just minorities and Hispanics, but whites, working class,  capitalists, women, all who believe in liberty and justice for all.

No one else could have pulled it off  but Bill Clinton.

At first, Day 2 of the DNC seemed a bit dull. There was a slow build throughout the night, with platitudes rarely getting a rise.

It certainly was no Day 1, which was perhaps the most energizing and inspirational of all the conventions (RNC/DNC) because of Michelle Obama, Julian Castro, and the overwhelming diversity on display. (What? We didn’t see that at the RNC? Well, no, we didn’t).

Day 2 had moments: The preach speak of Emmanuel Cleaver, Cecile Richards, Cristina’s Si Se Puede reprise, Jessica Sanchez doing Aretha, Sandra Fluke, Elizabeth Warren. Conventions are a politics junkie’s “America’s Got Talent.”  But Wednesday just wasn’t the kind of sustained level of UP, that Day 1 was.
You could take a bathroom break on Day 2.

And then….the Whale showed up.

And that was it,  the water shifted and rose up, and the show began.

(Miss the speech? CSPAN has it here.)

What I liked most about Clinton’s speech is that he did something Obama and the Dems have really failed to do heretofore. No one has really spelled out why the Democrats are worth voting for.

If it’s all about a job creation score card, Clinton provided one: In the last 50 years, it’s Republicans 24 million. Democrats 42 million.

When it comes down to who has a better plan for tomorrow, Clinton had a one word test that the GOP’s plan can’t pass: Arithmetic.

When he talked about the GOP cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, he made the emotional sale. When Clinton asked what families cut off by the GOP plan were going to do, he struck a nerve.

“We can’t afford to give the reigns of government to someone who wants to double down on trickle down.”

Clinton was good on the record, but he also represented a time when Democrats had a good thing going. For those nostalgic of a stimulus that worked, of a country with a surplus, of good times, (the Clinton Days),  Clinton was clear.  No president  could have fixed what was left for Barack Obama in just four years.

Which leads to the ridiculous GOP argument, which Clinton said, was “pretty simple. We left him a total mess, he hasn’t finished cleaning it up yet, so fire him and put us back in.”

The undecideds back home on the couch, could sense the truth in that.

But to close the deal, Clinton needed to sell a vision that people could wrap their heads around and see the critical nature of the choice before them.

“What kind of country do you want to live in?” he asked. “If you want a “you’re-on-your-own, winner-take-all-society, you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility–a we’re-all-in-this-together society– you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”

Some are saying Bill Clinton’s  was his best speech ever. It was just Clinton, relaxed, confident, with just enough facts to make his point in his folksy style that evokes the elder, the veteran of life, one who knows.

I’d say a speech’s impact has to do with the moment. I was on the floor of the DNC in New York in 1992 and I recall the Clinton acceptance speech to be his finest. After years of Republican governance, Clinton represented real hope, and people were eager for it. ( I just saw bits of it. You’ll find the DNA of last night’s speech in 1992’s).

This time around we are also  at a crossroads, a critical one as well. But Clinton is more loved and revered. He didn’t have to do any heavy lifting this week really.  That’s still Barack Obama’s job.  And we’ll see how he does on Day 3.


I thought it was a rough night for all the Asian Americans on the podium except for Jessica Sanchez who nailed her Aretha cover. And she was 2nd on “American Idol.”

Rep. Judy Chu was fired up, but she could use a little bit of Michelle Obama’s fire. Sec.Shinseki was a general giving a political speech. I saluted, sir.

The image was one of good Asian American public servants. Not one of charismatic political leader.

Atty.General Kamala Harris (half-South Asian)  is always alluring, but seemed nervous up there and did not leave one thinking, “There’s our next Senator.”  She might be. Her placement on the program indicates she is far being in some political dead-end job. She’ll probably remember her moment her as Clinton remembers his moment in the ‘80s. A better day is ahead. She has the look of a real national political star when she finds her Michelle Obama chops.

Asian Americans looking for charismatic leaders? Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Rep. Maisie Hirono (running for Akaka’s Senate seat vs. ex-gov Linda Lingle) are two who come to mind. I’ve interviewed both. You want someone as Clinton would say, “cool on the outside, who burns for America on the inside”?  These ladies are tough ladies who don’t back down.



Emil Guillermo on the elections: And Boehner wept, but not like Meg….

On election night, John Boehner gave his speech assuming his new role as majority leader. He was talking about working in his dad’s tavern, and his lousy jobs through college. And he cried.

Me, I wanted to laugh. But censored myself.

Cut to CNN, and Anderson Cooper who asked rightward Mary Matalin what she thought of Boehner. She hesitated, then said something indicating her approval, something like “it was fabulous,” to which all the panelists LAUGHED.

Even  late in the night they could spot a phony.

And then I started to cry. No tears of joy, just sadness that this country was at a unique position these last two years and failed.  And was going back in reverse.

Boehner talked about working in his dad’s tavern.  I remembered standing in 15 degree cold two years ago observing the Obama Inaugural at the Washington Mall. What a feeling of potential. I saw people of all stripes, standing together, hopeful that a new leader would take us in the right direction. In his address, Obama did talk about creating a new politics that would end the divisiveness and bring Americans together in a time of crisis. As I stood in the cold as if arctic camping, his words gave warmth.

But as we found it’s tough to right a fallen war ship. Obama tried. Health care reform was historic. But there was still too many people out of work. Indeed, the poor were getting poorer and the rich were getting richer. Somewhat of an anomaly, no?

So now the GOP will have its time to move us in a different direction and everything will seem a little logical. It will be totally understandable how the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer, unable even to get the lousy jobs Boehner cried over in his election night speech.

Get me to the Giants parade in San Francisco. I need a shot of positivity.

In California, things are happier. Brown is governor again. Boxer fended off Fiorina. And Meg Whitman is probably wondering if she could have built a domed stadium for the 49ers in her name with that $160 million cash she burned up in a vanity run for governor. 

At least it didn’t go up in smoke like George Soros’ cash that helped fuel Prop.19, the marijuana initiative. The billions in potential revenue not  enough to sway a majority. Prohibition is here to stay.

Besides, if it passed, what would the drug dealers do? Apply for government jobs?