The Veritable Smorgasbord

"I'm just preparing my impromptu remarks."- Sir Winston Curchill

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

I'm a 30 year old San Francisco resident by way of Virginia, currently working as an alumni affairs officer at a major research university in the Bay Area. I mainly write about politics, sports, music, and culture. I am a 1999 graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in Foreign Affairs. I am hoping to begin a master's degree program in Journalism in the next few years.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

A star is born

Political history has been filled with memorable speeches. The Gettysburg Address. Churchill's, "We shall fight them on the beaches". Kennedy at the Berlin Wall. Tonight at the Democratic National Convention, the speech given by Barack Obama may reach that hallowed level. Mr. Obama, a law professor at the University of Chicago and candidate for a U.S. senate seat from Illinois, gave a rousing and powerful speech that shook the foundations of the Fleet Center in Boston. That this promising politician was literally an unknown a few months ago is one thing, but to be able to give the kind of command performance he did tonight at the most important convention in recent history was simply amazing. Everyone thought John Kerry would have a hard time topping former President Clinton's speech on Monday night; well, he's got an even higher bar to match now. Delicately weaving his own story into the larger tapestry of America, Obama tapped into the feelings of all Americans in these troubled times. A son of mixed ancestrey (his father was Kenyan, his mother an American from Kansas) he hit on troubles not only facing the African-American community, but those that concern all Americans, and he did so in brilliant fashion:

"Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't acheive unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice."

Digging deeper into the spirit of what we, as Americans, want to stand for and believe that we stand for, Mr. Obama delivered this powerful passage:

"A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. 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. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one."

Obama then went on to address those that would seek to divide American from within, those who would see us split upon partisan lines:

"Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."

One could not have imagined a more perfect coming out party for this dynamic young politician. His speech might well be the highlight of this entire convention. With the lights on at their brightest, Barack still outshone them all. Bigger things are in store for Mr. Obama...let us hitch on and enjoy the ride.

The full text of Barack Obama's speech can be found here.


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