Sunday, August 31, 2008

He's skinny but he's tough

The major event of last week was Senator Obama's acceptance speech at Invesco Field. All through the Democratic primaries, his toughness was repeatedly questioned: would he stand up to the mud-slinging Republicans? Or is he just a Kumbayah-chanting Kerry (of the 2004 vintage)?

In recent weeks, the GOP was throwing everything at Obama - calling him a vacuous celebrity, not ready to lead, inexperienced, etc. And the Obama campaign was not exactly hitting back as it should, said many observers. His "new politics" would fail when faced with the old politics. Some of this could be seen in the early days of the Convention, when not many attacks were made on John McCain.

But on Thursday, all those questions were answered. Obama showed that he is skinny, but he's tough. He went after George Bush. Tied John McCain to W and questioned John McCain's judgment and temperament. Proclaimed his goals (an aim-for-the-moon "freedom from foreign oil in 10 years"), laid out his economic agenda (e.g. tax cuts for 95% of American working families, eliminate capital gains tax on small businesses) and emphasized (libertarian) personal and mutual responsibility. He also made clear areas where people could find common ground: Surely, people could agree on the need to reduce unwanted pregnancies? Surely, people could hunt, while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals? And surely, everybody could agree on hospital visits by loving partners of gay patients, even if they could not be married? [That last list is for those who say unity is hogwash.]

As either Tom Brokaw or Brian Williams (I forget who) pointed out at the end, the "bring it on, John McCain" attitude was taken straight from Andrew Shepherd's call-to-arms in The American President. The country has been going in the wrong direction for the last eight years, and some liberalism could well help set it straight again.

Each time Obama delivers a major speech, I am compelled to call it The Speech. Whether it was The Speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention, The Speech on Race this March, or The Speech delivered earlier this week. Yes, Obama is not perfect, yes, he has faults. But the man is a genius, intelligent, and truly, as someone said, the question is not whether he deserves to be President, but whether we deserve him.

The Speech:

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