Today, as part of their efforts to be nice to each other for at least one freakin' day (after promising early on to be nice to each other for the whole campaign, but whatever...), Obama and McCain are both appearing at a forum on service. While the event will no doubt be a civil affair, Obama should be able to draw clear distinctions between himself and Republican thoughts on the topic.
Two of the three most prominently featured speeches at the Republican convention pissed on the concept of serving one's community. As the keynote speaker, Rudy Giuliani mocked Obama's work as a community organizer. During Palin's speech (I hesitate to call it her speech, because she didn't write it, but whatever), one of the more memorable lines compared her time as the mayor of Wasilla to Obama's years as a community organizer. "I guess a small-town mayor," Palin said, "is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities."
What an arrogant statement! Obama the community organizer worked for, among other groups and causes, factory workers who had lost their jobs and with it their income, healthcare and self-sufficiency. Saying that Obama, meeting with these men and women in church basements and working to help them find opportunities to be retrained and find new jobs, had no responsibilities while a community organizer completely blows any genuine concept of service. He had the same responisibility to help the less fortunate among us that all Christians have. It's just that he did something about it during his early career, instead of entering beauty pageants. Apparently, it's Palin's (and, presumably, McCain's, since he no doubt approved Palin's speech) opinion that only people in the government have any responsibilities.
While obviously Obama can't use this forum to campaign for votes, he can most definitely talk about the responsibility he felt as a community organizer. In fact, he should use the word "responsibility" tonight as often as possible when discussing service. As the whole "lipstick on a pig" controversy demonstrates, using specific words from Palin's convention speech gets people's attention.