Friday, August 29, 2008

Obama: Not a tear jerker, but a Presidential speech

Barack Obama grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, is on the right in this photo

I promise I didn't watch it live. Although, as I was up late watching "There will be blood", I did see some of the run-up to it. I have to mention that Jennifer Hudson really "kicked butt" with her redition of "The Star Spangled Banner" at the opening of the last session Democratic National Convention (DNC). I presume that American singers like her spend most of their lives rehearsing or performing that beautiful song. But that didn't change the fact that it really was an absolute humdinger of a performance. A real belter. You can click on it below.

One thing that is coming out loud and clear from all the DNC speeches is a respect for John McCain's service for his country. This is in sharp contrast to the attitude of a certain faction to John Kerry last time, and it is refreshing.

But by complimenting McCain's service, Obama emphasises, all the more, his attacks on McCain's support for Bush. McCain's description of the States as a "nation of whiners" for example. Also, his support of the "ownership society" - what Obama called: "You're on your own".

In his acceptance speech (which you can watch here and the full text, as delivered, is here), Obama did some great stuff in laying into McCain and linking him to Republican failure.

It was great that Obama went on at length about the struggles of his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham (above right).

There was lots of good stuff on oildrilling, global warming, education, tax cuts for 95% of working families, healthcare, pensions etc. He has also had quite a strong message on getting rid of needless "bureaucracy".

I liked the fact that Obama took McCain head-on on national security:

If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament and judgment to serve as the next commander-in-chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.

...and there was this great, great line:

You know, John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of Hell, but he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives.

...mind-blowingly fantastic.

There was a great passage about non-partisanship. It really was great:

But what I will not do is suggest that the senator takes his positions for political purposes, because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and each other's patriotism.

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain.

The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and independents, but they have fought together, and bled together, and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a red America or a blue America; they have served the United States of America.

So I've got news for you, John McCain: We all put our country first.

I loved this line, which was beautifully delivered:

What the naysayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me; it's about you.

It's about you.

This was also a corker of a passage:

You know, this country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong.

Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit, that American promise, that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night and a promise that you make to yours, a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west, a promise that led workers to picket lines and women to reach for the ballot.

It is interesting that Obama said "we are the country of Roosevelt...of John Kennedy". Both of those had similar outside convention acceptance speeches in 1936 and 1960 respectively. Some commentators feared a "Kinnock NEC roar," or a "Dean Scream" from Obama in the huge theatre of the Invesco Field stadium in Denver. But they reckoned without his huge and natural gravitas.

This wasn't a speech that brought a tear to my eye - as did the DNC speeches of Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton. But it was, above all, a Presidential speech.

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