L.A. Congressman Xavier Becerra finally got his moment in the spotlight Thursday night, standing center stage at the Democratic National Convention. His task: talk about the American Dream.
Becerra is the right-hand man to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He's asked to carry water for the party on Capitol Hill — briefing reporters, repeating the company line, being the nice guy when Pelosi is the tough cop. This was supposed to be his reward.
The Democratic Party rewarded Becerra by bumping him from Tuesday's schedule. They did move him to the night President Obama would speak. But then they stuck Becerra between Caroline Kennedy, the crown princess of Camelot, and the highly energetic former Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm. And his speech was shown on neither CNN nor MSNBC.
Becerra's speech hit a bump. His labeling of the Romney/Ryan Medicare plan as "Couponcare" didn't catch on. Partly because folks were applauding his previous line and he didn't wait. As they say in show biz: timing is everything. And when Becerra repeated the line — which he changed from the scripted "Vouchercare" — it seemed out of context. You had to think hard to figure out what he was referring to.
The California delegation did Becerra no favors. Other delegations cheer like crazy whenever anyone from their state take the stage. California has been pretty darned quiet all week.
But Becerra looked distinguished in his dark suit, playing his role as the most powerful Latino in the House of Representatives.
Here's Becerra's speech:
The American dream—it's built not with words or speeches but from sweat and tears. Its heart and soul reside not in the boardrooms on Wall Street, but in the shops and factories on Main Street. Its promise is simple: work hard, play by the rules and you can make it in America. That's Barack and Michelle Obama's story.
Like so many of you, that's my parents' story, too. My father was a construction worker who dug the ditches and laid the pipe and concrete to build our highways. My mother arrived in this country as a newlywed with no money, no English and no family of her own. Together, they realized their dream of sending their four children where no man or woman in our family in America had ever gone before: college. El sueño Americano! The American dream! In any language, that's what this election is about!
We need President Obama for four more years to keep that dream alive! When President Obama was elected, the American dream was on life support. The middle class was being hollowed out. We cannot afford to go back to the failed policies of the past.
Maybe Governor Romney has forgotten how we got into the mess that President Obama faced, but we haven't — two wars, tax breaks for the wealthiest, the Wall Street bailout, Katrina! Nearly nine million Americans lost their jobs because of the Great Recession. Our neighbors lost their homes. Our teachers, firefighters and police officers were laid off. And small businesses couldn't get the bailed-out banks to offer them any credit. How many construction workers like my father do you think could dream of reaching the middle class under those conditions?
We've all heard the saying: "Put your money where your mouth is." Well, Governor Romney, ante up! Show us how your economic policies differ from President Bush's. If you believe in America, you invest in America. That's why it's not courageous to cut funding for college loans or vow to veto the dream for immigrant children. It's not responsible to reward companies that ship American jobs overseas with more tax loopholes. It's not bold to say our country is broke and then hand out yet another deficit-busting tax break to millionaires and billionaires. And Governor Romney, you should know, it's not right to pull the rug out from under older Americans after a lifetime of hard work and turn Medicare into a voucher system—"Vouchercare!"
That's not the America my parents built. If you want to save the middle class, you don't outsource it — you strengthen it. If you want to get America back to work, you don't fire cops, teachers, nurses, and firefighters — you invest in them.
President Obama is fighting for the middle class, to put Americans back to work and our country back on track. President Obama believes in the promise of America. President Obama believes in you. That's the American dream. El sueño Americano. Dr. King marched for it. Cesar Chavez organized for it. And this fall, we have to vote for it. Together, we're going to re-elect Barack Obama president of the United States!