No, I have not decided on my vote yet. There is still a long way to go, a lot of debates. And I have a lot of questions that need answering, a lot of problems with both candidates that need resolving. (For example, this and this are giving me serious reservations about Obama.)
Furthermore… you can fire away at anything I say, because I’m an amateur in political discussion. It’s a new subject to me, one that was sorely neglected in my education. And I’ve only begun to pay attention in recent years out of a sense of desperation, a growing weariness with seeing so much promised and so little done, and a yearning to see new leaders of integrity and vision. I’m more comfortable talking about art and faith than about policies, power-plays, and what will really bring about Change. These days, I have far more faith in the power of artists to change the world than politicians on either the Right or the Left.
But tonight, I was deeply moved by Barack Obama’s speech. (Watch it here.) I agreed with him when he reprimanded Hillary Clinton several months ago and insisted that words *do* matter. Tonight, they certainly did. That was plain to see in the stark differences between the speeches given by McCain, Clinton, and Obama. It wasn’t just charisma. It was content too. Sure, there was some pie-in-the-sky dreaming going on about what “this moment” really means. But I’m inspired by someone who’s willing to dream in spite of all that is stacked against him. In a crisis, I’d rather our nation leaned forward and listened, in eager anticipation, when the President stepped to the microphone, rather than cringing in embarrassment.
Perhaps in a day or two, I’ll come back down to earth and realize that it was only a speech. But for now, the fact that I feel even a twinge of hope is worth something. The idea that we might have a President whose speeches I would want to hear more than once… that’s worth something.
In the rush of emotions following tonight’s speech, I couldn’t say it better than Sullivan does here… at least, not without some significant time and reflection.
If I needed reassurance that this man is the most formidable force in American politics today, his speech tonight confirmed it. It was shrewd – with an artful positioning on Iraq. It was graceful – with respect for McCain’s service and Clinton’s tenacity. It was brutal – in turning around McCain’s Iraq visit meme to domestic economic woes. It was patriotic – in its evocation of Gettysburg and the Second World War. It was outer-directed: not for Obama the recourse to self-satisfied identity politics of the kind used by the Clintons because they often have nothing else. It was moving. I thought I even saw some suggestions of tears as he remembered his grandmother. It was also rhetorically more powerful than McCain – not by a small amount but by a mile. Put McCain’s speech against Obama’s – and this was a wipe-out. Not a victory. A wipe-out. Rhetorically, they are simply not in the same league. And if the contrast tonight between McCain and Obama holds for the rest of the campaign, McCain is facing a defeat of historic proportions.
One more thing: with McCain’s and Clinton’s speeches, you could not forget the politics of it. With Obama, you forgot about that at times. You actually lifted your eyes a little and believed a little and hoped a little.
Yes, he can. And anyone who under-estimates that will regret it.
And his very next post speaks further to why this moment is so inspiring to me.
I also shared the sentiments of this Sullivan reader on Clinton’s speech, and of Sullivan himself. I cannot wait until I quit hearing her voice lashing out from radios and televisions everywhere. And if Obama chooses her as a running mate, that is likely to make my choice painfully clear. [UPDATE: More responses to Hillary’s repulsive show.]
And while I agree with McCain on some important issues, I also must agree with these assessments of his speech.