Friday, August 29, 2008


I watched the speech on the Internet here in Brasilia. To be honest, I had concerns about the apparent closeness in the various tracking polls that placed Obama and McCain neck-and-neck. Like many, I had begun to wonder if this might be more change than the US electorate was willing to admit.

Earlier in the day I had read in Tim Egan's NY Times blog that, "The most frequent thing I heard in the suburbs of Colorado recently was a simple question: Who is this guy?" In a flash of insight, Egan summed up the challenge facing Obama not as to whether he might convince the viewing audience that he was a regular guy like them, but "What people will remember is whether the stranger in the stadium sounded like someone who could lead them to a better day."

[Update: You can link to a higher resolution HD version of the video HERE]

[Update #2: Nielsen Media Research reports more US viewers watched Obama speak than watched the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing, the final "American Idol" or the Academy Awards this year.]

So, how did he do?

By now, the day after, there are thousands of answers posted on the Internet. I liked the view offered by Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish:

It was a deeply substantive speech, full of policy detail, full of people other than the candidate, centered overwhelmingly on domestic economic anxiety. It was a liberal speech, more unabashedly, unashamedly liberal than any Democratic acceptance speech since the great era of American liberalism. But it made the case for that liberalism - in the context of the decline of the American dream, and the rise of cynicism and the collapse of cultural unity. His ability to portray that liberalism as a patriotic, unifying, ennobling tradition makes him the most lethal and remarkable Democratic figure since John F Kennedy.

What he didn't do was give an airy, abstract, dreamy confection of rhetoric. The McCain campaign set Obama up as a celebrity airhead, a Paris Hilton of wealth and elitism. And he let them portray him that way, and let them over-reach, and let them punch him again and again ... and then he turned around and destroyed them. If the Rove Republicans thought they were playing with a patsy, they just got a reality check.

He took every assault on him and turned them around. He showed not just that he understood the experience of many middle class Americans, but that he understood how the Republicans have succeeded in smearing him. And he didn't shrink from the personal charges; he rebutted them. Whoever else this was, it was not Adlai Stevenson. It was not Jimmy Carter. And it was less afraid and less calculating than Bill Clinton.

Above all, he took on national security - face on, full-throttle, enraged, as we should all be, at how disastrously American power has been handled these past eight years. He owned this issue in a way that no Democrat has owned it since Kennedy. That's a transformative event. To my mind, it is vital that both parties get to own the war on Jihadist terror and that we escape this awful Rove-Morris trap that poisons the discourse into narrow and petty partisan abuse of patriotism. Obama did this tonight. We are in his debt.

Look: I'm biased at this point. I'm one of those people, deeply distressed at what has happened to America, deeply ashamed of my own misjudgments, who has shifted out of my ideological comfort zone because this man seems different to me, and this moment in history seems different to me. I'm not sure we have many more chances to get off the addiction to foreign oil, to prevent a calamitous terrorist attack, to restore constitutional balance in the hurricane of a terror war.

I've said it before - months and months ago. I should say it again tonight. This is a remarkable man at a vital moment. America would be crazy to throw this opportunity away. America must not throw this opportunity away.

Know hope.

Obama ended his speech by invoking the memory of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington 45 years ago:

The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead - people of every creed and color, from every walk of life - is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.

"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

Barack Obama's mission is more than the realization of the dream of equal opportunity. It is a giant step toward transforming the dream of individual achievement into the realization of a destiny -- beyond any political ideology -- that builds a new WE for the 21st Century.


clem said...


Thank you, you have enriched my life with your posts of the indigenous peoples, photos, videos, commentary, etc. May creator always bless you,

Mitakuye oyasin,

Clem Wilkes

Lou Gold said...

Hey Clem,

I can see ya in the arbor always offering a kind word and just being there for anyone who came by. May you and yours also be blessed, always.

Mituke oyasin,


Preston Moser said...


One of the sorriest things I have ever heard in political discourse was the explanation that George Bush was better than John Kerry because average Americans felt that they would be more at ease drinking a beer with Bush rather than Kerry (Sigh). Undoubtedly someone will now say that they would prefer to drink a beer with John McCain than with Barack Obama.

Perhaps the appropriate response to anyone who would raise this comparison is to point out that historians who have read the writings of Abraham Lincoln are awed by what they describe as his towering intellect and how he may have been one of the smartest and most brilliant men of his generation. So who would you rather drink a beer with, George Bush or Abraham Lincoln? And the followup question is Who would you rather have running the country?

Yes, I would gladly drink a beer with Barack Obama, but I would feel as nervous as if I were drinking a beer with Martin Luther King, Jr. or Abraham Lincoln, or Thomas Jefferson. I might not feel as nervous drinking a beer with John McCain, but it certainly doesn't mean that I would prefer to have him running the country.

-Preston |8-)

rini said...

Dear Lou,

Indeed thanks for you ever interesting stories. And here you will find a link to HD-streams of the convention. Much better quality than Youtube... Only intal two plug-ins

Luz, Paz, Amor

Rini Hartman

David Senigo said...

Hey Lou,
I debated someone on the youtube comments page of barack obama's speech. The person had the audacity to say that Obama and McCain were basically the same candidate. I thought to myself that this person had to be sleeping under a rock for the last 8 years considering that was the main argument against Gore eight years ago (a point he-gore- brought up in his speech). After a few exchanges I asked this direct question: Who do you think will make America better over the next eight years - Obama or McCain. I have yet to receive a reply. I also have to say that for once I want to believe in a better America. Obama makes it seem possible. He is not afraid, he is not a bullshitter. His life choices make that clear. He is the fighter that the Democrats have needed for a long time and I am proud to have voted for him in the New York primaries (even though I think Hillary too has done same amazing work) and will be so proud to vote for him, not just for what I believe in but I think more importantly to support what I think America truly should stand for again, and that is Justice, Accountability, Honesty and Integrity, and most importantly HOPE IN A BETTER FUTURE THAT WE ALL CAN SHAPE TOGETHER... Lots of Love Lou, Thanks for the Post