Obama defines himself and the election

An aggressive, re-energized Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for President Thursday night with a stirring speech long on specifics, peppered with in-your-face challenges to John McCain and one that delivered on the promise that has drawn so many to enthusiastically support the Senator from Illinois.

In a speech that is, without a doubt, one of the best that I have witnessed in 40 plus years of covering politics as a journalist or working within the system as an operative, Obama issued both a challenge to Republicans to bring it on and sounded a clarion call for real change in America.

Those who wondered if Obama had the aggressiveness and fight to make a run for President aren’t wondering any more. McCain, who supporters said watched the speech, is probably shaking his head and wondering: "Now what do I do?"

Obama not only returned to his theme of the need for fundamental change in how Washington works, he threw down a gauntlet to McCain, saying he would be happy to debate the GOP nominee on who has the best temperament and judgment to be Commander in Chief and who best understands what America needs. His analysis of McCain is simple: The old man of the Republican Party "doesn’t get it."

Obama is right. McCain doesn’t get it. The Republican Party doesn’t get it. What remains to be seen is whether or not the American people get it and will reject the regressive GOP policies of the last eight years and endorse change offered by a black man with a name like Barack Obama.

Conventional political wisdom says the Republican Party should be fighting for its political life. Saddled with an unpopular war, a President with the lowest approval ratings in history and a back-to-the-stone-ages political philosophy, the party of the elephant should be easy pickings in November.

But pre-convention polls show a tight race, one that could go either way. Perhaps it is uneasiness about Obama, a candidate who is still an unknown quantity to many Americans. Perhaps it is the latent racism that still lurks in the soul of America. Perhaps it is fear.

Perhaps, but Obama’s speech Thursday night answered many of the questions that linger about him and his policies. Obama clearly defined the issues of this campaign, one that must focus on the economy, the Iraq war and the mood of depression that has gripped this nation.

His words should stir enthusiastic support not only from Democrats but also from Americans who want their country back from eight years of tyranny of George W. Bush. Obama’s call for a resurgence of national pride goes beyond partisan politics and reminds all of us that we are Americans first.

In his speech, Obama said:

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.

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can’t just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose our sense of higher purpose. And that’s what we have to restore.

Obama defined this election as a choice between the failed policies of the past and the promise of the future:

America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise, that American promise, and in the words of Scripture, hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.



  1. Lillibet

    I’m with you on this. The speech was certainly good, but sadly, not as great as I’d hoped. Living in Chicago, I’ve heard Obama great, Obama good, and Obama stellar. For me, the speech was good, not great, and definitely not stellar. Perhaps my problem is remembering his 2004 speech, his speech on racism, and his rhetorical ability to start another Chicago Fire, burning through objections, doubts and doubters, based on his prior speeches.

    Then again, good beats the competition any day of the week. And trust me, I’m skeptical of the entire bunch, and not decided at this point, who will get my vote.

    Oh well, there are still many weeks to go…


  2. Siannan

    “None of which qualifies her to serve as vice president.

    — Kent Shaw”

    Hey, Kent, who said anything about qualified? I never once used the word qualified in my statement. I was talking about who she would appeal to and why specifically she was selected. McCain didn’t pick her because she was qualified and I’ll bet the thought never entered his mind. He picked her to satisfy those people he has not yet drawn to his candidacy; the pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay people who don’t believe he’ll run the country the way they want it run. She’ll satisfy those folks and maybe pick up a few pissed off Hillary women along the way. Qualifications never entered into the matter.

  3. ekaton

    The only difference I see between Obama and McCain is that the latter is likely to start a nuclear war only a little bit sooner than the former.

    — Kent Shaw

  4. Uncle Ludwig

    Obama’s speech was certainly not a “barn-burner,” and let’s be glad of that. Had it been so, I would have been disappointed.

    What it was was a carefully crafted combination of a variety of appeals to the opportunity at hand and the fact that America is at a crossroads and needs to decide which direction it wants to go next.

    He both challenged us and amplified on his themes he’s been hitting on the campaign trail that the media only gives us in minimal sound bites.

    And he capped off a multi-course feast of rhetoric in this superbly-orchestrated convention that featured high emotion with Teddy Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Beau Biden, and hard-core politics with Joe Biden and Bill Clinton. Obama’s speech was forceful without being strident, and it covered every base well.

    Obviously, those who don’t support his candidacy will find fault with it in any way they want, but for those of us who support his message, and recognize what he had to do in the speech, there’s no question for us that it was a masterful performance, and a supebly written speech.

    I cringe when I think what McCain’s capstone speech is going to sound like, so much so that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Republicans make history this time around by NOT getting a bump in the polls following their convention. Furthermore, I don’t think McCain and Palin will stand up well in any head-to-head debates, simply because they’re spending their time trying to defend the status quo that even THEY don’t want to maintain.

    If McCain REALLY wants to win this election, the smartest thing he could do now is to publicly repudiate everything the Bush administration has stood for, because there is not one item on their platform that the majority of Americans can support.

  5. griff

    The mere fact that Obama called Russia an aggressor shows that he is very much in league with the Establishment. It was the Anglo-American, Israeli backed Georgian puppet government that initiated the hostility, and all you see in the press is the narrow “righteous, innocent American” view.

    What a bunch of pathetic losers we are.

  6. colocritic

    Back off, Warren. Your snide remark is neither funny nor appropriate.

    Doug has written an excellent post on a very historic moment and an inspiring speech. Like it or not, Doug has as much right to his opinion as you do to yours. I happen to agree with him. How could you watch that speech and not be moved unless you decided ahead of time to be negative!

    This country is so desperate for change from the old style politics and the terrible mess that Washington has become. We need new blood with good ideas – certainly anything is better than the status quo!

    Watch McSame’s speech and just compare the difference!


  7. Warren

    Time to change the masthead, Doug. This is no longer a non-partisan site. “Because nobody’s life, liberty or property is safe while Congress is in session or the White House is occupied.” Sorry. You’ve sold out, Doug. There’s no way in heck you can any longer call this site non-partisan.

    Now what you need to do is run a contest among your groupies to come up with a new masthead. May I be the first to submit an entry? How about “Because Barack Obama is the long-awaited return of Jesus Christ.”


  8. LMartinK

    Someone noted below: “Now that McCain has chosen his VP, Obama’s chances have gone down. Not hardly. Once Americans’s realize that McCain is one of the oldest candidates to seek the presicency, and might not finish it, that means his VP totally inexperienced, un-fettered, running mate could become President of the United States.

    Holy cow! That could be a galactically horrendous disaster. Talk about bad judgment…….


  9. remoran

    “Never stop questioning.” Einstein

    Doddering John strikes again. Seeing the two together gives one the notion McCain selected Palin because of her looks and looks alone because in every other way, she lacks the gravitas to be POTUS if JM’s heart decides to vapor lock while serving as commander in chief. In essence, this reminds me of Bush’s nomination of Harriet Myers for the SC court, someone that even the idiots in congress had to reject as one totally unqualified to do anything at that high a level.

  10. Stratocaster

    She is also under investigation for an abuse of power. If she can abuse power as a governor of a small populace state, can you imagine what she could do as President?

  11. ekaton

    “Timr, she’s pro-life and chose not to abort her last child when she learn it had downs. Her husband was wounded in Iraq, her oldest son joined the Army Sept, 2007.”

    “And the fact that she’s a woman will appeal to some of the disaffected Hillary voters.”

    None of which qualifies her to serve as vice president.

    — Kent Shaw

  12. Stratocaster

    Yes, they ahould have. And there is still some possibility they might be. They need to be held accountable for their crimes. Through conflicts of interest and no bid contracts, they embezzled the entire U.S. treasury and when it ran out they borrowed money in the name of the people. They should be required to repay the debt they ran up, not the American people. This all took place under the directions of the Godfather of the Military Industrial Complex, George H.W. Bush. Eisenhower warned us about that guy.

  13. inibo

    I was sort of disappointed in the speech. I’m not an Obama (or McCain) supporter by any stretch of the imagination, but he has shown himself to be a powerful orator and I was expecting a barn burner. Perhaps I had my expectations set too high, but my final reaction was a big yawn.


    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.-Amendment X

  14. Charlie Couser


    If what you are saying is true, then George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should both have been impeached, found guilty and sentenced to long prison terms for treason long ago!

    Charlie Couser

  15. Timr

    siannan, you mean the gov of Alaska? The st john meme of Obama not being qualified because he has no experience, just died, because his selection has only 2 years on the job as gov of a state with few people. Besides, she comes with her own scandal. Did st john pick her because the dems did not pick HRC as VP? Is he attempting to coopt the 18 million who wanted HRC? Never mind that she is even more of a repig than st john. What about his judgement when he picked a totally unqualified person to be VP, the chances that she would become prez are much greater than Obama’s pick of Biden.

  16. Charlie Couser

    Doug, thanks for a very fair assessment of Mr. Obama’s acceptance speech.

    When I think about the importance of experience in political matters, I return to history’s teachings and the amazing work performed by our Founding Fathers. Clearly, these were well educated men; but, who among them had any experience in nation building? These men came together with their various talents and experiences and put together a nation, that today, is the greatest nation in the history of the modern world!

    Inexperienced though he may be, Mr. Obama will be a respected leader. This was demonstrated by his enthusiastic reception while campaigning nationally and while visiting abroad. Further, he will be a great president because, he knows his weaknesses and will surround himself with the expertise needed to offset those short comings. The decisions made by his administration will be based on an honest assessment of unbiased, untainted intelligence, and he will lead by example while, at the same time, demonstrating respect for others and honoring the Constitution of the USA!

    On-the-other-hand, John McCain is old school. He is saddled by tunnel vision and by the GOP’s failed slash and burn policies of the past — policies which have done very little for the average working stiff; but, they have enriched the rich and empowered special interests. To be fair, Mr. McCain is consistent. His voting record is replete with support for the fascist, imperialist policies of George W. Bush’s 4th Reich and the trashing of our Constitution.

    Don’t get me wrong, I both respect and appreciate Mr. McCain’s military service to his country. In that sense, he is a hero. However, it should be placed in its true context. John McCain was only one of many who endured pain and suffering while a POW at the Hanoi Hilton. It should be remembered that others were there who suffered more pain for far longer periods of time than did he. So, based on his claims that his POW experience gives him the special insight necessary to be Commander-in-Chief, does it not make more sense then that those who were there longer and those who suffered more would be better qualified than he to serve as Commander-in-Chief?

    Finally, Mr. McCain, it is time for change! But, your abysmal voting record while in the both the House and the Senate demonstrate to me that you offer nothing but more of the same. So, get out of the way sir; because, REAL CHANGE is coming in the form of a new president by the name of BARACK OBAMA!!

    Charlie Couser

  17. Siannan

    Timr, she’s pro-life and chose not to abort her last child when she learn it had downs. Her husband was wounded in Iraq, her oldest son joined the Army Sept, 2007. She’ll appeal to a large number of the conservative base who have been drifting away from McCain because they don’t believe he’s conservative enough. And she has Karl Rove’s fingerprints all over her as a selection. The repugs will call her experience meaningless and point to the fact that Bush was only a Governor before he was elected (not something to be proud of IMHO, but it will play to the conservatives that McCain has not been appealing to thus far). You need to look at the bigger picture here. And the fact that she’s a woman will appeal to some of the disaffected Hillary voters.

    Obama should have picked Sebillius.