Wearing a dark blue suit and understated blue striped tie, President Barack Obama sauntered up to the podium with his unique brand of cool and brilliant charismatic smile. Democrats in the National Convention hall erupted in applause and chants of “four more years.” He made light banter with his daughters, declared his love for his first lady, then dove into the meat of his speech.
It was not long before he repeated his message: that the time has come for us all to pay our fair share; billionaires and millions alike. He touched on the financial collapse and the subsequent devastation it cause ordinary Americans.
"I refuse to ask middle class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. I refuse to ask students to pay more for college; or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, elderly, or disabled, all so those with the most can pay less," added Obama passionately.
He accused Republicans of lofty speeches during their Tampa convention but of not putting forward any bold ideas or just how they would deliver those promises. The chant used two nights ago of never going back was thrown at the audience, who responded with loud applause.
“Our problems can be solved; our challenges can be met,” said the president, adding that this was the reason he was running for a second term as president of the United States. He talked of outsourcing jobs—“we re-invented a dying auto industry” and “worked harder and smarter than anyone else.” He urged “made in America” be the cornerstone of this nation and said the wave of the future was coming up with innovative ideas and producing more than we import or outsource.
America is “less dependent on foreign oil now than the last two decades,” Obama proudly declared, adding that though the country was moving towards energy independence, he would not sell out America to big oil companies who collect $4 billion a year in "corporate welfare" or give up our coastlines and wildlife to be pilfered or destroyed by another catastrophic disaster.
Speaking about our troops, he said, “No one who fought for their country should have to fight for a roof over their heads or a job when they come home.” On education, Obama promised to cut college tuition in half, saying helping our young get a higher education is smart economic planning. "The future belongs to young people with an education and the imgaination to create," added the president.
He didn’t take the high road as some predicted but ripped into Romney’s foreign tour saying, “You may not be ready for diplomacy if you cannot visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.” He was of course referring to that well-publicized gaffe of the GOP nominee made when he visited the United Kingdom during his three-country trip to boost his foreign creds—then turned around and criticized the host country’s security readiness for the games.
Obama re-affirmed America’s and his commitment to Israel as our one of our closest ally, saying that its safety was a top priority to his administration.
Saying things like the election was a “choice” between “two different futures;” “we’re offering a better path” and “I’m hopeful because of you,” the president sounded optimistic without giving grand specifics. There wasn’t a great difference in his message and we did not learn anything new but there was something decidedly different about his tone; his demeanor; his tenor; his presence. He seemed slightly overwhelmed with emotion –at times his voice cracking ever so slightly as he kept it in check.
Saying that this journey has not been easy, he used a partial quote of President Abraham Lincoln to convey how he felt during his dark hours—and he revealed there were several varying degrees; “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.” The 51-year-old Obama has the rapidly greying head of hair to show for those ‘dark days” of his administration.
These poignant moments were scattered through the speech, with Obama seeming to choke up slightly at times. One got the sense that he was feeling a range of emotions as he spoke, a departure from his usual cool, cerebral controlled delivery.
Instead of using the old slogan of “Hope and Change,” he told the audience and the rest of America viewing in television land, that they were the change.
The delivery had a heavy dose of “heart” in it and the crowd was definitely energized but it was short on expansive details of what his four more years would look like. He refrained from the grand promises of 2008, cautious, I suspect, after learning his lesson when “Hope and Change” was used as a weapon by the opposition. He did promise one million jobs by 2014 but didn’t set any other deadlines like he did four years ago. Instead he warned that it would take "a few more years for us to solve challenges that have built up over the years.”
The president had a tall order to fill Thursday night, being the last voice that was heard ringing out across the convention hall—having to follow several dynamic speakers, including his wife on Tuesday, former President Clinton on Wednesday,and VP just before he took the podium. One of the memorable moments of Thursday night was the appearance of the remarkable , who ignited thunderous applause after walking out on stage to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
The former congresswoman from Arizona was shot in 2011, along with several others, six of whom died, when a crazed gunman opened fire in Tucson.
All in all, the DNC was a week of high energy, electrifying speeches, video tributes and heavily emotional. There were some misses; there were some hits and there were some spectacular home-runs, but where does President Obama’s delivery fit? More importantly, was it enough to sway undecided and independent voters?
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