To use a football analogy, during the Democratic National Convention San Antonio mayor, Julian Castro, Mrs. Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden advanced the ball for President Obama to the ten yard line. All he had to do was move it into the end zone, which he failed to do.
At best, the President may have moved it to the five yard line. Since his surrogates had so thoroughly and brilliantly explained and defended his accomplishments during his first term in office, what he should have done was focus on concrete plans for the next four years if re-elected.
Skilled workers needed
For instance since creating jobs seems to be of the utmost importance, he could have said, “I recently heard about a company in Chicago desperately seeking 600 welders but couldn’t find them in Chicago. During my next term we are going to make sure that doesn’t happen again anywhere in the country.
We will work closely with anyone currently involved in productive job training. And in places where there is a need but no program, we will provide serious tax breaks to anyone who develops one.”
Also, the president can continue, “I have become aware of Hospitality High School right here in Washington, an institution where young people receive a regular high school education, while at the same time being prepared for jobs and careers in the hospitality industry, the largest employer in the District after the federal government.
We will support others who take such an approach, especially in the field of medicine which has a constant need of skilled people such as X-Ray Technicians, Record-Keepers and Medical Assistants.
Finally, the president could have added, “We will encourage corporations and organizations, where feasible, to provide internship opportunities for young people to get on-the-job training. Again we will support such efforts with tax breaks and other incentives. These are just some of the ways in which we will become seriously involved in encouraging the preparing young people for jobs and careers in the 21st Century economy.”
Unemployed vs. unemployable
Instead of taking such an upbeat, positive approach, President Obama, in his speech, basically re-stated and re-explained what had already been said by Mayor Castro, Mrs. Obama, former president Clinton and Vice President Biden. This was a political blunder.
Some may consider such an approach as thinking too small, not grand enough for a president to deal with when accepting the nomination of his party for re-election.
Those who believe this should have to explain what is more important than preparing people, many of whom are not just unemployed but unemployable in 21st Century terms, an opportunity for a more productive future?
If President Obama had answered that question precisely in his speech he would have made it into the end zone.
Peter Bailey, a former associate editor of Ebony, is currently editor of Vital Issues: The Journal of African American Speeches.