At the Democratic Convention Thursday night in Denver the party finally delivered its Ruthian grand slam in the form of Sen. Barack Obama's acceptance speech for the presidency of the United States of America. And holy shit, the goosebumps are still here.
Call me Michelle Obama, but I feel damned proud of my country right now. Damned proud of my party. As someone who's pushing 50 soon, I've witnessed over the years the depths of ignorance and intense racial bigotry that America's been steeped in for so long. Though he still has a major hurdle to climb in actually winning the presidency, our nation has truly entered a new era. It was nothing short of biblical to see Obama, that shining embodiment of the American dream, stand before 75,000 loyalists in Invesco Field a brilliant, passionate black man receiving his party's nomination. Our country will never be the same again. As Obama said, "all across America something is stirring." I literally was moved to tears.
Obama not only gave us the soaring rhetoric he's become famous for, he also presented compelling specifics into his policies for health care, the economy, jobs, taxes, the auto industry, education, energy, Iraq, terrorism, diplomacy and national security. He even tackled abortion, guns, gay marriage and immigration. He was, to be sure, inspirational, charismatic and transcendent. But more importantly, especially at this critical point in his dogfight with the Republicans' presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain, he was extremely forceful, tough and the fighter he needs to be.
"It's not because John McCain doesn't care, it's because John McCain doesn't get it." And with that Obama ripped into his opponent for much of the 43 minute speech, attacking McCain for his 90% voting record with Bush, his disconnect with the lower and middle classes, and his ties to the wealthy, the oil companies and special interests.
He was especially tough on McCain when it came to the Iraq war and fighting terrorism, touting his own strengths and that of his party in the area of national security:
"John McCain likes to say he will follow bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives...We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe."
Here's a few more gems from Obama's highly effective offensive:
"If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament and judgment to serve as the next Commander-in-Chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have."
"If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that's his choice, but it is not the change we need"
"I got news for you John McCain, we all put our country first."
He continued lashing into the Republican nominee as offering four more years of the current failed administration: "The Bush/McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans, Democrats and Republicans, have built, and we are here to restore that legacy."
On the social issues, he discussed the need to look beyond our differences, which is "America's promise...the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in commonality." And he dismissed the criticisms of his detractors who call this message of hope and change "happy talk."
On gun control, he challenged the GOP with "Don't tell me we can't uphold the second amendment while keeping AK-47's out of the hands of criminals."
He railed against those who dismiss the Democratic Party's larger goals as "just a Trojan horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values...Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters. If you don't have a record to run on then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from."
And in his stirring close he invoked Dr. Martin Luther King, whose speech 45 years ago on the the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. drew people from "every corner of this land" to "hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream. The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustrations of so many dreams deferred. But what the people heard instead, people from every creed and color, people from every walk of life, is that in America our destiny is inextricably linked. That together our dreams can be one. We cannot walk alone, the preacher cried. And as we walk we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate. And so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix, and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone, at this moment, in this election. We must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise. That American promise. And in the words of scripture, hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess. Thank you. And God bless you. And God bless America."
And then, in a brilliant co-opting of the GOP playbook, the stadium air filled with the good 'ole patriotic country music sounds of Brooks and Dunn's "Only in America" as the candidate stood with his family and his running mate Sen. Joe Biden and family. Nicely done, Barack, nicely done.