Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Three Speeches on an Historic Night

The sight of Barack Obama actually being named presumptive Democratic candidate for President, no matter how expected. is astonishing to eyes that saw black people forced to ride in the back of buses and send their children to segregated schools and attacked for daring to exercise their right to vote. But then came the speeches.

John McCain elbowed into Barack Obama's moment of triumph with a Back-to-the-Future revival of his 2000 straight-talking self to distance himself from Bush and belittle the man who made history tonight.

Hillary Clinton delivered what was expected to be her concession but turned out to be a victory speech and a valentine to herself that barely mentioned the opponent who had taken the nomination from her.

Then Obama came on to eulogize Clinton's campaign, praise McCain but deplore his record of supporting Bush, and then lay out his own vision of a new America.

The contrasts in style and substance were telling. McCain with a straight face painted himself as the candidate of change while demeaning Obama. "I don't seek the presidency on the presumption I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save my country in its hour of need," he said. "I seek the office with the humility of a man who cannot forget my country saved me."

Clinton praised herself with abandon. "Because we stood our ground," she said, "it meant that every single United States citizen had a chance to make his or her voice heard. A record 35 million people voted in this primary...And I am committed to uniting our party so we move forward stronger and more ready than ever to take back the White House this November."

No mention of who will actually be moving in.

Obama, after a long tribute to Clinton, took on McCain: "I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine. My differences with him are not personal; they are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign...It's not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush 95 percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year."

The Democratic candidate-to-be said he looked forward to debating McCain on policies and positions, "a debate that the American people deserve--on the issues that will determine the future of this country and the future of our children.

"But what you don't deserve is another election that's governed by fear, and innuendo and division. What you won't hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon. What you won't see from this campaign or this party is a politics that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to polarize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first."

Let the debate begin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I almost fell off my chair when McCain said government should be able to deliver hot water to dehydrated babies (referring to Katrina.)

Ok...I had two babies and yes, their water needed to be sterile. But do you give hot water to an overheated baby?

Am I missing something or did McCain misread his teleprompter?