Tonight Senator Barack Obama took American politics to a new level by becoming the first African-American presidential candidate for a major political party in American history. And he spoke tonight at the very site where the Republicans will hold their canned convention this September. Now that's the Audacity of Hope! Whoever inside the Obama campaign came up with the idea of bringing his most important rally to date to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul deserves a promotion. There were over 17,000 people inside and another 15,000 outside listening to Obama's speech tonight. Not since the 1968 campaign of Robert F. Kennedy has an American politician inspired such enthusiasm and fervor especially among the young people. Can anyone imagine either of the other candidates for president drawing 32,000 people to a spirited gathering? The energy tonight will far surpass anything the Republicans can muster at their convention. The Obama phenomenon has shown over and over again that this campaign is different, and that we are truly "turning the page" and bringing about a sea change in the direction of our nation and our politics.
We are on the threshold of a major positive change in this country. This time around the Democrats have an extremely talented candidate who opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. John McCain can level all of the tactical complaints he wants after the war he so vigorously supported proved to be far more costly than he thought. But he cannot erase the fact that he showed colossally poor judgment in cheerleading for George W. Bush's illegal invasion and occupation of a sovereign state in the heart of the Middle East. The Iraq debacle is the major source of why the United States finds itself today so reviled around the world. Obama recognizes the folly in the Bush-McCain unilateral cowboy foreign policy that is based on hubris, lies, and deception (as Scotty McClellan confirmed), and most Americans agree.
John McCain's hackneyed, lethargic, and boring speech tonight tried but failed miserably to embrace the theme of "change" that Obama has so successfully articulated and has resonated with voters. On all of the major issues, especially the war and the economy, McCain sides with his high-roller lobbyist benefactors over the interests of working Americans. His Keating Five roots run deep. It's impossible to keep up with the number of lobbyists, some representing the most odious regimes and corporations on the planet, jumping ship from McCain's organization in an effort to hide the fact that McCain himself is a cog in the Washington money machine. He has doled out so many financial favors to corporations as chair of the Senate Commerce Committee it's astounding that some journalists still insist on calling him a "maverick." Tonight McCain called for more deregulation of corporations (like the kind that brought us the mortgage crisis); more "free trade" agreements (like the kind that outsourced 3 million American jobs in the last eight years); and more war in Iraq and possibly Iran.
McCain's speech was bereft of any new ideas or vision and confirms what Obama has been saying all along: John McCain is running for George W. Bush's third term.
Barack Obama is now moving toward becoming President of the United States and he can only succeed through people power. We will see if Saul Alinsky's organizing methods can succeed in our current post-Bush, toxic political environment.
We all know the Republicans are going to smear Obama in every conceivable way. We should prepare ourselves for the endless 527 groups that run racist advertisements, direct mail attack pieces, under-the-radar "push polls" to confuse voters, and Florida-style voter suppression tactics, all marching in lockstep with the GOP's Propaganda Ministry over at Fox News. Obama is going to need our support especially when the Swift Boating begins. The blogs can play a pivotal role in throwing dirt in the gears of the Republican slime machine. The "Left" should refrain from nitpicking him in the general election. He is the first candidate we have had in 40 years that offers a real alternative to the status quo. If 2000 and 2004 can be learned from, we know the Republicans will try to create a false narrative of who Obama is and what he stands for. We must be vigilant, organized, and ready to do battle.
(I'd like to thank my friend and colleague Dr. Stan Oden for his help on this one.)