World Media Views on the Democratic Convention

The first thing I noticed watching the DNC last week is the diversity of its attendees: whites (yes, they were quite a few), African Americans, Latinos, Asians, American Indians, students, seniors, gays, straights, progressives and moderates and perhaps even the odd libertarian. The contrast to the Republican National Convention in Tampa two weeks ago couldn’t be greater as the arena was full of aging and graying white people, most of them wearing cowboy hats. You could have played spot the African American or the Asian and come out empty handed! In this piece I will stick to reporting on the three main speeches: Michelle Obama, former President Clinton and incumbent President Obama.

Initial reactions from the world press on this Democratic convention were almost entirely positive. The view on the DNC could not be more different than the slamming of the RNC a few days ago and the main message can be summarized by former President Clinton’s own words: The choice in November, he said, would be between whether voters wanted to be part of a “we’re all in this together society” or a “winner take all, you’re on your own society”.

The Irish Times, predictably, gives Clinton high marks for his speech:

Former President Bill Clinton gave a rousing defense of President Barack Obama’s handling of the weak US economy yesterday and issued a detailed attack on Republican Mitt Romney in a speech that electrified the Democratic National Convention.

Asian times gave Bill Clinton a rave review: “He may well have sealed Obama’s reelection all by himself.” Indeed! The article deconstructs his speech in depth and lauds the way he delivered a knock-out to the GOP:

“And all of this accomplished via a smack down – a meticulous taking apart and tearing to bits of every single Republican “issue”, in almost excruciating detail. Compare it to an empty chair last week winning the shootout against an aging Hollywood icon – not to mention a hapless Republican presidential candidate.”

Michelle’s warm speech however seemed to have topped the cake! Enthusiastically reported by India Today it lauds the first Lady;

“In the end, for Barack, these issues aren’t political. They’re personal,” she said. The first lady, wearing a bright pink dress, drew thunderous applause from the crowd and chants of “four more years” that are more often reserved for the president.

The Sydney Morning Herald gives thumbs up to Michelle’s speech headlining her as the Mom-in-Chief. Excerpts of her speech appear in all segments of the Australian press which has warmly welcomed her words and compared her speech to Romney’s own aspirations:

Time and again she set up these implied comparisons with Mr Romney, reinforcing criticisms that Democrats have been making about him for weeks – that he is out of touch with middle America due to his wealth, that he plays fast and lose on his taxes.

An added bonus for the DNC is that Michelle Obama’s speech has gone viral in China as many felt her speech was “inspiring” and “divine.”

“First Lady Michelle Obama knew she was speaking to the American electorate when she took the stage yesterday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. But she may not have known the size -or, it turns out, the enthusiasm- of her Chinese audience.

Even the staid Le Figaro warmed up to both Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton’s speeches. Michelle’s stunning oratory melted French hearts it seemed: (translated by moi)

“This insistence on their humble origins implicitly aimed to introduce a striking contrast with the candidate Mitt Romney, multimillionaire who grew up in affluence. The president “believes that when you’ve worked hard and managed to get the door of possibilities you should not slam behind you,” said Michelle, again a clear reference to austerity measures and state reduction social protection advocated by the Republicans.”

Uncharacteristically Italy’s Corriere della Serra’s headline was half published in English: “Standing ovation per Clinton E Obama abbraccia l’ex rivale!” The report succinctly pointed out the great divide between the two parties: (translation by moi)

“Then Clinton accused Republicans of having blocked recovery measures for their pure hatred of Obama and defended the actions of this administration on all fronts, from health to education loans through the success of the rescue industry car and taxes.”

South Africa’s Mail & Guardian gives a thumb up to Bill Clinton’s oratory bravura:

“Folksy, long on detail and showing he is still a master orator nearly 12 years after he left office, Clinton gave a more cogent defense of Obama’s actions as president than perhaps the current resident of the White House himself has given.”

The article mentions other speakers who lauded Obama for defending the rights of women, immigrants and gays and countered Republican arguments that he is anti-business.

Israel’s Haaretz writes bullishly about the DNC and of Clinton in particular: (you need to register to read the entire article)

“The beloved Bubba defied apprehensions and gave Democrats the manifesto they needed to go out and fight for Obama.”

The star turn belonged obviously to the incumbent President. His speech has been universally covered and roughly 95% of all media mentioned the same points and differences between the two parties particularly Romney’s lack of foreign policy experience. The UK Independent reported:

In a speech that dialled down the soaring rhetoric that defined his first Presidential campaign, and seeking to appeal to reason, rather than dewy idealism, he tilted an election season that has so far been relentlessly negative towards a more detailed discussion of “two fundamentally different visions” for America’s future.

Not much on the DNC throughout the German press, whom I suppose is keeping a close watch on the Euro’s future. DW, Germany’s multilingual online news service offers a pragmatic view of Obama’s speech, centering on Romney’s lack of foreign nous:

“My opponent and his new running mate are new to foreign policy, but from all that we’ve seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly,” Obama said. “After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy – and not al Qaeda – unless you are stuck in a Cold War time warp.”

And finally Japan Today, surprisingly, has an article in depth on the President’s speech (the Japanese press has largely ignored the DNC and the RNC):

“The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place and I’m asking you to choose that future,” he said, warning Romney would gut the middle class and return to “blustering and blundering” abroad.

.

In my humble opinion Sandra Fluke articulated the essential difference between the two candidates:

“Our president, when he hears a young woman has been verbally attacked, thinks of his daughters – not his delegates or donors – and stands with all women,” she said. “And strangers come together, reach out and lift her up. And then, instead of trying to silence her, you invite me here – and give me a microphone – to amplify our voice. That’s the difference.”

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