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July 27, 2004


The NY Times also has it. But do yourself a favor: watch it, don't read it first. I'll even resist the temptation to quote my favorite parts again. I'll resist the temptation of hyperbole. Just watch it.

....also, if anyone is a Republican living in Illinois, this may be your golden opportunity for that Senate nomination you've always dreamed of.

And there's a Bill Swerski joke in here somewhere, but I can't execute it right now.

Seriously, by the end I was thinking, "Screw Kerry, lets nominate this guy!"

Of course, that was the second time this evening those words popped into my head, which isn't particularly encouraging.

You really have to watch it. It made David Brooks spill tears of joy all over himself.

Anyone know where I can get a feed of the video? I missed it, and my friend called me up after he saw it - I said "Hello?" and he said "I have just seen the first black U.S. president."

Get the feed from C-span


or load open this link in RealPlayer:

apologies for the long link

Did Brooks actually cry? You're kidding, right?

I finally figured out how to describe the effect of this speech. (I've tried to keep the cheesiness to a minimum, but I warn you, I didn't entirely succeed).

My favorite line may have also been the crowd's favorite: "If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief – I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper – that makes this country work."

Attacks on Ashcroft, and defense of civil liberties, are some of the most sure fire applause lines in the Democratic arsenal. But the presidential candidates rarely went beyond the stock invocation of Ashcroft. I never really understood why, because it seemed like such a sure way to win Democrats' hearts. Maybe it's risky general election territory, maybe it just doesn't occur to them.

Obama, in 41 words, said what I have used tens of thousands to say. Those 41 words will convince more people than all of mine ever will, and it's not only because so many more people will see and read his words than mine.

And he means it, too. I know he means it. He didn't choose that line casually, and he listed it last for a reason. He's an immigrant's son, a professor of constitutional law, and a state senator who devoted an awful lot of time and effort to pass a law requiring the police to videotape murder suspects and juvenile's confessions--which does more to guard against brutality and protect the innocent than Miranda ever will.

So when I write my 3L paper about the Arar case and "extraordinary rendition", I'm going to send it to his office. Maybe he'll be able to help fix this. Maybe I'll also send my resume and my transcript even though it's not as impressive as his--maybe he'll even hire me to help fix it.

Those were the sorts of thoughts this speech inspired.

(I had the same thoughts as everyone else too, of course--"this is why I'm a Democrat" and "I've really got to work for Kerry" and "I'm looking at the first black President" and "they thought Mike Ditka could beat this guy?" and "so this is what it was like to listen to Cuomo in '84 or RFK in '68" and "it's like they hacked into my subconscious and created the ideal Senate candidate based on what they found there". But those seemed like the most important.)

Not sure if Brooks cried, however, he did immediately break in after the speech with somethign to the affect of: "This is why we get into this business of reporting on politics, to hear speeches like this." Then went on to mention that the networks missed the boat by not televising it. No worries, after that moment of befuddled emotion, he quickly fell back to "That was like watching Tiger Woods." There ya go, my man Brooks back in the saddle again.

Lehrer did say "Wow" and it looked as though he had certainly been brought to tears, but again, I can't confirm it.

Is all this being overwrought? Possibly, but even by simply watching on TV, the air was electrified by his presence and delivery.

No matter what side of the isle, if you are a pol-junkie, it was enjoyable to watch.

Still, Obama sees one America where Edwards sees two. Wonder who'll win that battle?

"I’m not talking about blind optimism here - the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t think about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about something more substantial."

(just got email from my dad that said "let's clone him!") (whistling) (off to go build shrine in cubicle).


"The audacity of hope!"

Where could that man go in this country and not be elected?

And when interviewed after the speech, with the pundits grabbing their thesauruses for new superlatives, Obama was gracious, humble, composed and seemingly grateful for the honor.

I won't "resist the temptation of hyperbole" (part of my pledge to disagree with Katherine if I can):

It's been an incredibly dark past three years, but if he's any indication of who's going to rise, out of the ashes, to fight for a new America, I think we'll do just fine.

Not sure that's hyperbole either.

yeah, well I didn't exactly stick with that either...

Moe, it warms my heart that you liked Obama's speech. Now take a look at this one: here's the web address (sorry about the lack of link) to William Saletan's Obama review in Slate. Read it and wretch.


"The audacity of hope!"

Ah, the Man from Hope meme has not yet died. Well, I leave you with:

A wise man hopes for the best, and prepares for the worst.

Dunno who said it, or even if it's an accurate quote, but an excess of hope in human endeavors can get you dead and/or disgraced.

"I won't "resist the temptation of hyperbole" "

yeah. well, I didn't quite stick to that one either.

an excess of hope in human endeavors can get you dead and/or disgraced.

And a paucity of hope will simply make you wish you were.

an excess of hope in human endeavors can get you dead and/or disgraced.

And a paucity of hope will simply make you wish you were.

One last thing--to preserve the warm fuzzies, I recommend reading the comments threads on Obama's official blog.

"Not since Ronald Reagan have I heard such an elegant, passionate speach."

"Barack, seeing you tonight and listening to your speech of unity of all citizens of the US reminded me of those cold winter mornings at the Metra stations passing out your election materials before the primary....Keep grounded and focused."

"As the Kenyan father of two American sons, I am inspired by Obama's story which resonates with me and portends a bright future for immigrants and for all America and indeed the whole world."

"As a Republican from California I was riveted by your keynote address....I look forward to the opportunity when the rest of the nation will be able to cast a vote on behalf of Barack Obama for President of the United States."

"Anybody who can work a Rich Mullins shout-out into a Democratic keynote address has my admiration. But then, you had it already, and my vote. Peace, bro."

"I am a 15 year old looking for a career in politics. After your amazing speech, I have the full inspiration to achieve my goal, despite the different hurdles I must jump."

"Twenty-four years ago I was sitting in the quad at Occidental College with my fellow resident of Haines Dormitory, Barack Obama (I knew him as Barry)."

"You were the first Democratic Convention speaker that actually acknowledged the fact that gay people are being attacked and used as fodder for political gain."

"Well, I've been kidding my American friendsthat if Bush wins again they move north to Canada and live in my basement. After hearing that speech I'm thinking I might have to move south to Illinois so I can vote for Obama in 2012..."

"I'm a New Yorker by way of Iowa...In New York City not long after 9/11, there emerged a massive and spontaneous upwelling of nationalistic unity and cohesion. Somehow, Mr. Obama's speech delivered me back to those feelings I experienced right here on the streets of Manhattan."

"I’m a 65 year old WASP who lives in California. In 1962 I was stationed in Tennessee. During my tour a young man by the name of James Meredith was admitted to Old Miss. He was the first black student to attend that school. I witnessed the hate and fear that drove the reaction to his admission. I witnessed the faces of the 101st Airborne troops that were burned by cigarettes put out on their faces by the local gentry who jumped onto the trucks as they drove to the Old Miss campus. I was so enraged that the day following that first encounter I boarded a bus to Memphis and sat in the colored section as a protest. I will never forget the shock on the faces of the men and women that sat across from me. The bus driver refused to move the vehicle until I relocated in the white section, I didn’t. An old man of African heritage looked at me and said “you better move son their going to hurt you and it won’t help any of us.” The resignation to his plight hurt me more than the five white guys that beat the hell out of me and threw me off the bus. From that day on I’ve been praying that somewhere, somehow there would be a leader that could unite us as Americans first. I saw that in you last night at the Democratic Convention. "

My favorite thing may be how many people are signing their real names.

William Saletan has no soul.


That's the first time I ever wrote something, then saw it quoted elsewhere (I made the Rich Mullins remark on Obama's blog). Time and again I think I'm the only person who grew up singing his music and would still vote for Obama; but you and Amy Sullivan and Ayelish McGarvey keep reminding me otherwise. Thanks a million. This is what I love about blogging: there's room for everyone's voice. I'll miss your posts, but please keep commenting.

Well, I long ago wrote off the Republicans when they started to consider the Religious Right a significant part of their base. With all the god-talk and the coded shout-outs to the evangelical crowd in that speech, I can write off the Democrats, too.

Looks like I'm definitely staying home in November again.

I twitched a little at the "we worship an awesome god in the Blue States" bit, until I realized just where he was going with it (that the heartland doesn't have a monopoly on piety and family values any more than the urban centers have a monopoly on tolerance). Besides, he also included this line:

John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us.

I don't think he was pandering to the evangelical crowd, and I'm very sensitive to this sort of thing.

I have to admit, Phil. That's a pretty odd issue to be a single issue voter on.

loved Sharptons line about some being worried at what's going on in other folks bedrooms as opposed to others worrying if there's enough to eat for other folks in their kitchens.

oops, cross thread posting. should have gone in 'Opening Night Jitters'!

I'm a weird guy, sidereal.

I have a real problem with the way religion manifests itself as such a force in politics, because I think our government has an obligation to govern as a secular institution. It really, really bugs me that the only kinds things that the House and Senate can suddenly find unanimous, bipartisan support for are things like keeping "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

If both parties are going to cater to the god-botherers, then they're not getting my vote, because they don't take my concerns seriously.

I don't like that references to religion are unofficially required, but I wouldn't like it any better if they were unofficially banned. They are an old and proud tradition in our history, from Lincoln:

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." 3 With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

to King:

I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth century prophets left their little villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Graeco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our constitutional and God-given rights.

A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law.

Obama's invocations of faith are brief and passing compared to those. Most of them require no belief in God at all to appreciate their meaning. "I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper" is an old and beautiful idea expressed in old and beautiful language, even if you are an atheist.

It's not whether you invoke religion, it's how and to what purpose.

On a lighter note, here is what the Republican incumbent says about finding a nominee:

"Taking the Republican nomination in Illinois for the U.S. Senate under the current circumstances would be akin to accepting a cancer transplant," said Senator Peter G. Fitzgerald, the Republican whose decision to step down after six years has left his seat in contention."

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