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'Destroy the competition:' Democrats finally getting it - Joel Hall

For the past several years, the Democratic Party has been plagued by the nice-guy syndrome. While many women will tolerate a nice guy, at the end of the day, most want a man who can beat up the other guy -- if he has to.

One of the reasons why the Republican Party has been effective in the past is because it is very good at rallying the troops around a common, living, breathing enemy. Republicans understand that, while governing often requires compromise and reaching across the aisle, politics are about destroying the competition.

At the 2004 Republican National Convention, speakers from the GOP roasted presidential hopeful John Kerry, like a rotisserie chicken. Kerry was accused of everything from being wishy-washy to being unable to stand up to terror. Some critics even brought his distinguished military service in Vietnam into question.

I doubt Republicans will be any less cruel to Sen. Barack Obama during the Republican National Convention this week in Minneapolis, Minn. While Republicans are sure to enter their national convention as if it were a boxing match, the first wave of speeches at last week's Democratic National Convention looked more like a "love-in."

Last Monday, rather than rail into the opponent and identify an enemy, Democrats shared sappy, biographical speeches to assure the public that Democrats put their pants on one leg at a time, like everyone else.

Some of this was effective, but most of it was not. I wanted to shake the television when Obama's youngest daughter got to hold the microphone for what seemed like a little too long.

While it was a feel-good moment for everybody there, it wasn't the most effective use of time. James Carville echoed the sentiments of many other pundits who said the Democrats need to start taking the gloves off.

On Tuesday, they finally did.

The day after the feel-good speeches, Democrats from around the country stuck it to George W. Bush and attached his catastrophic errors to John McCain. McCain was criticized for voting with Bush 90 percent of the time, and for having seven houses while Americans, left and right, are facing foreclosure.

Bush was described by one speaker as someone "who was born on third base and stole second." The speaker went on to accuse McCain of wanting to continue down the same path of stupidity.

Democrats also attacked the GOP itself for being hypocritical. One speaker went as far as to say the same compassionate conservatives who pledged to look out for their fellow man and exercise fiscal restraint were the same people who left thousands to drown during Hurricane Katrina, and wasted billions of dollars on a war that shouldn't have happened.

The Democrats also did something they have avoided for the most part in previous national conventions. They prayed.

Religion, which the Republican Party has marketed, bottled and called its own since the Reagan-era, was finally used to the advantage of the Democratic Party. Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and Hasidic Jews were all brought on stage to pray and show unity in the Party.

The Democrats are finally doing what they need to do to win. We can all hold hands and sing "Kumbaya" later, but for now, Democrats need to assume that nice guys finish last.

Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at jhall@news-daily.com.