Analysis of two speeches: What the presidential hopefuls promised

In the last two weeks, bipartisan history was made, as part of this election season. On August 28, 45 years to the day after a “Dream” was revealed to thousands of people gathered near the Lincoln Monument in Washington, D.C., a plan for &ldqu

In the last two weeks, bipartisan history was made as part of this election season.

On Aug. 28, 45 years to the day after a “Dream” was revealed to thousands of people gathered near the Lincoln Monument in Washington, D.C., a plan for “change” was laid out by Sen. Barack Obama as he accepted the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. The day before, Obama made history, becoming the first Black person to be nominated for the presidency by a major political party.

History would again be made, nearly a week later, as a self-proclaimed hockey mom, Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin, accepted the Republican Party’s vice-presidential nomination on Sept. 3. And with just under two years of gubernatorial leadership, Palin stepped into another page in the history books as the first woman to get the Republican V.P. nod.

For two weeks, the Democrats and Republicans stumped for sweeping change with their respective man at the helm of the nation. Palin was passionate in her approval of Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican’s presidential hopeful. A virtual unknown, Palin introduced herself to the nation in her acceptance speech, then made a case for the McCain-Palin ticket.

With gusto, McCain closed out the RNC and convention season imploring voters to, “Fight. Stand up and fight.” Nights of speeches, high marks, thumbs up of candidates and running mates, disses of alliances, policies and campaigns and swats at opponents. Two weeks of hugs, applause, kisses, boos, tears, laughter, cheers and chants.

Still, gas hovers at $4 per gallon, giant banks and other financial entities are folding or being bailed out by the government and the war in Iraq continues, as issues in Afghanistan remain on the horizon. Millions of Americans do not have and cannot afford quality health care. Food and other prices have skyrocketed, education continues to beg national legislative attention, and earlier this month, record unemployment numbers were released.

So gloves off, arms down and slaps, tags and political tackles aside, the question looms: What did the candidates say about issues affecting an overwhelming majority of Americans?

Issue Sen. Barack Obama (D) Sen. John McCain (R)
Health Care If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t have (health insurance), you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. I will make certain (insurance companies) stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most. Help families with paid sick days and better family leave. My health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance.
War My call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq… I will never hesitate to defend this nation. I will only send our troops into harms way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. I fought for the right strategy and more troops in Iraq…I intend to (make) sure the country…remains safe from its enemies.
Taxes I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and startups… I will cut taxes…for 95 percent of all working families. I’ll…close corporate loopholes and tax havens. We believe in low taxes; spending discipline and open markets. I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can. I will cut government spending. Doubling the child tax exemption from $3500 to $7000 will improve the lives of millions of American families.
Education I’ll invest in early childhood education. I’ll recruit an army of new teachers and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. I’ll ask for higher standards and more accountability. If you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education. We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice, remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers and help bad teachers find another line of work.When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them.
Jobs I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas … I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America. Now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day’s work because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons. My tax cuts will create jobs. Cutting the second highest business tax rate in the world will…keep jobs from moving overseas. We’re going to help workers who’ve lost a job that won’t come back find a new one that won’t go away. We will prepare them for the jobs of today. We will use our community colleges to help train people…For workers in industries that have been hard hit, we’ll help make up part of the difference in wages between their old job and a…lower paid one while they receive retraining that will help them find secure new employment at a decent wage.
Environment In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East. I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies retool so that fuel efficient cars are built right here inAmerica. I’ll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy. We will produce more energy at home.We will drill new wells offshore We will build more nuclear power plants We will develop clean coal technology, We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas. We will encourage the development and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles.
Foreign Relations I will renew…diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curtail Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century. I will restore our moral standing. I will work to establish good relations with Russia so we need not fear a return of the Cold War.
Economy Change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses. Protect Social Security for future generations. I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less. I will open new markets to our goods and services. We are going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us very much.

Rhonda Gillespie can be reached via e-mail at

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