Like everyone else on the planet tonight, I have an opinion about The Speech, too.
I thought it was fabulous. I especially thought he did an excellent job of keeping the soaring rhetoric he used for much of the primaries in check, choosing instead to modulate his delivery between rational substance and hard-hitting points. This is what was needed. Had he delivered another one of his incredibly inspiring but vague speeches, he would have been roundly criticized afterward. He needed to present the case and draw sharp distinctions between John McCain and himself.
I thought he did a magnificent job of delivering it.
The highlights for me?
Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land: enough! This moment, this election is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive.
How many of us are saying Enough! I know I am.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.
Great framing. He locked McCain right into Bush and handed him the 10% factor.
A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know.
This was one of my most favorite moments, because he brought the anger to the fore in a very, very subtle way. His voice, his inflection, the sarcasm, all of it. When he asked the question “A nation of whiners?” he asked it exactly the way I did — as if to say hey, wait a second. Whiners? What the hell, John McCain? And that is the right way to put it when so many in this country are deep in the hell of unemployment, medical bills, mortgage meltdowns and other disasters.
For over two decades, he’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy – give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is, you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own.
Well, it’s time for them to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America.
Another opportunity to draw the lines clearly between the two of them.
America, now is not the time for small plans.
The fierce urgency of now, in one short sentence.
I thought everything he said about foreign policy was perfect, particularly the challenge to debate temperament and following Osama to his cave rather than the gates of hell.
However, the area where he shined and where he really drove the point home was where he came to the question of his patriotism. He cut the bottom out of the Rove wedgies out there who want to make this an election over ‘small issues’, especially this call out:
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 know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that’s to be expected. Because if you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.
You make a big election about small things.
The fierce urgency of now…
What Barack Obama did with his speech tonight was lay down a gauntlet, not only before the Karl Roves of the world, but also the Babingtons and Murdochs out there who intentionally use the mainstream press and broadcast outlets to twist his message into something ugly, something to reject, to belittle.
When Obama said “I get it…I’m not the likeliest candidate…” he is acknowledging what they have tried to do, and encourages those with ears to hear to overcome it.
Ending with the references to Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was perfect.
He left voters with a clear-cut choice: Continue on the way we have, or choose a different way. I’m certain that the different way will not please everyone, any more than his FISA vote pleased progressives, or that his alleged shift to the center has pleased the hardest-core of us who sometimes forget the war in the heat of the battle.
The fact of his candidacy signals change. The recognition by the world we live in that he is a leader and to be respected signals change. The 75,000 people at Invesco field who gathered to see him speak signal extraordinary change, amazing engagement.
Barack Obama has made history by winning the nomination, he made history in that stadium tonight, and he will make history in November. If we stand up, have an honest debate without the derision that has entered our political discourse in the past, and sort it all out, history will be made.
Congratulations, Democrats. I am proud to be one among you, and I’m proud to be a full supporter of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Let’s win this.