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Lucas, Deutchman React to Obama

Posted on Friday, September 07, 2012

Last week, Associate Professor of Political Science DeWayne Lucas and Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman provided their perspectives on Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney's nomination acceptance speech for a Finger Lakes Times article. This week, after listening to the acceptance speech of President Barack Obama, they provided writer Jim Miller their reaction to his remarks and how they stack up against Romney's.

According to the article, Deutchman "heard too many platitudes and not enough policy."

She is quoted, "The Republicans and the Democrats have a lot more in common than you might realize, which is to say both parties gave remarkably non-substantive speeches. There were about 3 to 4 minutes in the middle of Obama's talk where he started to mention some things he had done ... but it didn't last."

The article goes on to explain, "She preferred former President Bill Clinton's speech to Obama's."

"I don't think I'm alone in saying a lot of people don't know what [the president has] accomplished - he's not helping himself," she said. "I think [Obama has] actually done some very good things that could make him an attractive candidate, but he's not doing a very good job of selling himself in terms of concrete [policies]."

Lucas is presented in the article as having a different viewpoint. "Selling policies might not have been the goal...People generally know what the Democrats stand for, and the policies are laid out in the party platform, Lucas said."

"I thought it was a really good speech. He tried to reframe the election not simply about him being president and his past but about the choice of the American public, that you have two different directions," Lucas said.

"Lucas thinks Obama's rhetoric, and especially his humility, may have reached the independent and undecided voters he needs."

A member of the faculty since 2000, Lucas holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and his M.A. and Ph.D. from State University at Binghamton.
Deutchman, a member of the HWS faculty since 1987, holds a Ph.D. and a master's degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor's degree from Hofstra University in political science and economics.

The full article follows.



Finger Lakes Times
Obama Makes Case

Local Democrats generally pleased with what they heard
Jim Miller • September 7, 2012

Ed O'Shea thinks President Barack Obama embraced a simple goal Thursday night as he accepted his party's nomination for another term: Tell people that he gets it.

"There seemed to be a really strong pitch, in a sense, to middle-class and working class people," said O'Shea, a convention delegate and chairman of Wayne County's Democratic party. "Whether they were listening or not was another question."

O'Shea, who did listen, left the hall feeling pleased. So, he said, did his fellow delegates. "We talked about it, and I think he succeeded in keeping the people who were there with him and making them very enthusiastic about what they're about to do, and it was a pretty direct - I won't say harsh - criticism of the Republicans," O'Shea said in a phone interview this morning. "He showed confidence and, at the same time, he showed humility."

Delegate Judy Baker of Canandaigua was similarly impressed. "I just thought the president's speech was excellent," she said by phone from Charlotte, N.C, where the convention was held. "He gave the message that, yes, he understands that he hasn't been able to accomplish everything he intended to, and he reinforced the idea that it is a hard road to bring us back to prosperity, [but] he does have a plan, and he has accomplished a lot."

Obama focused his 38- minute address on the economy and talked up the successes of his first term, from a revived auto industry to the death of Osama bin Laden. He also acknowledged that the lingering recession had tested the high hopes of his supporters. He and his surrogates argued that he needs and deserves more time and a stronger mandate to implement his agenda, and he cast the election as a choice between continued progress and a step backward.

The Republicans, Obama said, are a party whose economic prescriptions have failed and whose supposedly new ideas consist of more of the same.

"I think that he just jumped right in," O'Shea said.

It played well for O'Shea, Baker and fellow delegate Mary Salotti, Ontario County's Democratic elections commissioner.

"He really, to me, validated the direction that he is going with this country," Salotti said. "Anyone who heard the speech and was asked, ‘Is this country on the right track?' they would give him and everyone a resounding, ‘Yes, absolutely, it is.' "

However, Iva Deutchman, a political science professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, heard too many platitudes and not enough policy.

"The Republicans and the Democrats have a lot more in common than you might realize, which is to say both parties gave remarkably non-substantive speeches," she said. "There were about 3 to 4 minutes in the middle of Obama's talk where he started to mention some things he had done ... but it didn't last."

After Mitt Romney addressed the Republican convention last week, Deutchman said she did not think he had given her a reason to vote for him. While she thought Obama's comments about citizenship were effective, her feelings about the president Thursday night were similar. She preferred former President Bill Clinton's speech to Obama's.

"I don't think I'm alone in saying a lot of people don't know what [the president has] accomplished - he's not helping himself," she said. "I think [Obama has] actually done some very good things that could make him an attractive candidate, but he's not doing a very good job of selling himself in terms of concrete [policies]."

Selling policies might not have been the goal, said DeWayne Lucas, a fellow political science professor at Hobart and William Smith. People generally know what the Democrats stand for, and the policies are laid out in the party platform, Lucas said.

"I thought it was a really good speech," he said. "He tried to reframe the election not simply about him being president and his past but about the choice of the American public, that you have two different directions."

Lucas thinks Obama's rhetoric, and especially his humility, may have reached the independent and undecided voters he needs.

Salotti thought the speech might even have reached "dyed-in-the-wool Republicans."

Jay Dutcher, Ontario County's Republican chairman, wasn't so sure. He thinks Obama aimed the speech at true-believer Democrats and did not try to reach out.

"I try to watch these very objectively," he said. "What I saw was not a whole lot of new proposals. What I saw was a president who probably has the worst performance in office since Jimmy Carter in the late '70s asking for four more years. ... I think hope is still alive, not because of what he has done, but in spite of what he has done."

Salotti disagreed. "I think the country must continue in the direction that the president is trying to take it," she said. "I think that if the president's policies are implemented that we will come out of this and that we're headed for a return to prosperity. I think that if we take the alternate route, we're in trouble."

 

 


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