November 5, 2008

Scouring the text of Obama's victory speech:

Mickey Kaus says:
I was struck by two lists of virtues used by Obama in his acceptance speech--or rather by two omissions on those lists. [Emphasis added]

To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you.
"Peace and security." Not "democracy" or "freedom." This is someone who doesn't want to seem in any way a neocon idealist.

And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.
No mention of "equality"--not even social equality. Nor "equality before the law." This is someone who doesn't want to seem in any way a leftish "redistributor."
Here's the whole text of the speech. I'm interested to read it, after listening last night and picking out the phrases that struck me, live-blog style. The written text always has secrets to deliver up, as Mickey's post reminds me. I'm noticing the elegant structure of the speech:
... tonight is your answer.

It's the answer...

It's the answer...

It's the answer...

It's been a long time coming... change has come to America.

It's the answer...

It's been a long time coming...

[Call from McCain.]

[Tribute to Biden.]

[Love to the family.]

[Acknowledgment of the Davids, Plouffe and Axelrod.]

[Thanks to everybody.] This is your victory....

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep....

There will be setbacks and false starts....

[Let's work together.]

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long....

[Shared destiny with the whole world.]

For that is the true genius of America – that America can change....

[Focus on one person: Ann Nixon Cooper, "born just a generation past slavery." Here begins a list of things Cooper has lived through, which is also an account of the last 100 years, punctuated with the familiar refrain.]

... Yes we can.

... Yes we can.

... Yes we can.

... Yes we can.

... Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do....

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time...

Yes We Can....
I love the form. The substance is very fine too. Uplifting and inclusive.


Hoosier Daddy said...

To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you.

With blessings and approval from the UN of course.


Rich B said...

What part of your brain has to be missing to find this pablum inspirational?

Maguro said...

What, no mention of Whitey keeping the man down? How disappointing.

SteveR said...

Please don't read anything into getting away from partisanship. That's insulting. What he (and anyone thinking it will end) means is republicans are expected to go along with whatever he and the congressional leaders put forth.

mccullough said...

I thought the might not achieve it "in my first term" was cocky. He also mentioned "my first term" in one of the debates.

If the economy is still in the shitter, and U.S. soldiers are getting killed in Afghanistan there'll be no second term.

Unemployed young people whose friends are still getting killed overseas will turn against Obama. You can't win by making promises that appeal to people's natural instincts for the short term and then convince the same people that you need more time. Presidents are like professional sports coaches, you either start winning or get fired.

EnigmatiCore said...

That was almost as good as the victory speech given by Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Eva said...

We'd need to check the transcript to be sure, but I don't think he said "in my first time", I think he said "in one term".


fivewheels said...

Mickey is not a neo-con. He's one of the neoliberal poster boys and doesn't share much in common with Irving Kristol or GWB. Regular liberals just hate him because he isn't knee-jerk enough.

EnigmatiCore said...

"and U.S. soldiers are getting killed in Afghanistan"

I'd suggest he needs to win in Afghanistan, not merely withdraw.

laura said...

Rich B. - who plays you in the movie version, Jack Haley?

Eva said...

Responding to mccollough with some due diligence, here is the quote:

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there.

Rich B said...

The Prophet Obama is a pompous, arrogant windbag. His speech was laughable. I know that the Dems have the potential to do great damage to liberty, but I relish the coming battle.

I thought Clinton's bridge to the 21st century was over the top, but Brocko leaves him in the dust. If he really believes this nonsense, he is really conceited.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"The Prophet Obama is a pompous, arrogant windbag"

This is why I love my remote control for the television and the ability to record shows to watch later.

I watched several Third Rock From the Sun episodes and laughed my ass off. Much more satisfactory than listening to The Big Giant Head blather on with his ridiculous promises that he will never be able to keep

Rich B said...


I've just started watching 3rd Rock after not paying attention when it first came out. I agree that it's pretty funny.

The more I hear Brocko speak, the more I yearn to listen to old speeches by John Kerry. Now there was an orator!

Richard Dolan said...

"I love the form. The substance is very fine too. Uplifting and inclusive."

Well, even though it was his big night, he must have been tired. He's used the same "form" many times -- complete with the same cadences, the same repetitions, the same litanies. It was new and riveting in January. Not so much now. Yet his admirers can't get enough of it, and always seem to be moved by it.

The reactions of the people in the crowd listening to him were (at least to me) the most interesting part of the spectacle. They seemed to be in a kind of rapture. Good for them. They love the guy, and he will need their devotion as he gets ground down in the days ahead.

Watching him, I was thinking back to Bush in '00, when 'being president' was still mostly just a political game of campaigning and cost-free posturing. How different he looked back then when all of the challenges of the presidency were still just an abstraction, all still waiting for him in the future. How different he looked when the reality set in.

That will happen to O, too. He won't look and sound the same when reality takes over shortly after Jan 21, when that first big test that Biden was talking about happens.

ricpic said...

Actually America's beacon burns bright, to the extent it does burn bright, based on effort, individual effort. But that would discommode Obama voters. Mustn't do that.

jim said...

Oh my.

How very unusual ... I don't get to say this very often.

Ann's dead on.

America just elected the best presidential orator since JFK.

The ability to inspire millions of people can be a tool or a weapon - & it looks like your next president is going to use it for good things. America got exactly the leader it needs right now - one that can motivate its citizenry to move the country forward, with the intellect to guide that progress wisely.

If America blows it this time, I doubt it'll get yet another second chance ... history doesn't come with a "Rewind" button.

All these sour grapes may well look very foolish indeed before long ... Obama has proven that he can beat the odds with his defeat of a political bulldog like Hillary Clinton. That's going to stand him - & the nation as a whole - in good stead, when he has to try to repair the serious damage Bush has done to America's reputation abroad & its economy at home.

What it all boils down to is this: do you want your country to improve, or get worse? You can bring about either outcome - the latter course is much easier, at first ... & the former is dauntingly difficult, at first ... either way, the responsibility is yours.

I wish you all the best of luck.
You'll need it.

Palladian said...

"He's used the same "form" many times -- complete with the same cadences, the same repetitions, the same litanies. It was new and riveting in January. Not so much now. Yet his admirers can't get enough of it, and always seem to be moved by it."

That's why it's so popular among preachers. The slightly musical cadence and the repetition and the rhythm have a subtle trance-inducing effect. I find it repulsive and creepy coming from a politician. It's intellectually insulting. It's trying to lull me into complacency with form instead of ideas.

Obama is trying to make himself sound like Dr King I think. But you ain't no Dr King, Barack.

Palladian said...

"I wish you all the best of luck.
You'll need it."

Fuck you. Take your wishes and shove them up your ass. You wish we become as weak and destroyed as your shitty country, with the terrible health care and politically correct speech enforcement tribunals. But I have a feeling that Mr Obama might unpleasantly surprise you. I don't like him, and I don't agree with him. But he's not a Canadian. That counts for a lot.

Expat(ish) said...

@Richard Dolan - That was a fine insight on how a president elect looks as opposed to a President.

I know that FDR is reported to have had almost a nervous breakdown on hearing of Pearl Harbor (and, indeed, he didn't actually know how bad it was), and Bush was rocked by the news of 911. (Thus the silly lib meme of the childrens book reading.)

But both of them came roaring back and had their finest moments. History book stuff. (Both became amazingly unpopular at home very quickly too.)

Bush was lucky, he only looks older and tireder, not dead like FDR. I thought Bill Clinton, not having dealt with the same trouble (not of his making) looked terrible when he left, though he looks ok now.

I guess we can only hope that BHO stands up to it as well.


rhhardin said...

It's the rap music school of rhetoric.

It's helped along by trademarked proforms without antecedents, so helpful also in the parody of uplifting speeches.

veni vidi vici said...

Was a good speech that showed people like me that hadn't seen his show before why so many love him so dearly.

Definitely worthy of granting him "benefit of the doubt" status, so I'm on "wait and see" mode when it comes to 44.

I think McCain gave a better speech, though, in all honesty.

McCain sounded like he's done; I anticipate his retirement at the end of this senate term.

However, I think Obama would do himself (and the nation) a whole lot of good appointing McCain Secretary of Defense in his administration. After all, McCain had the right instincts and positions throughout the Bush years (and before), and during the campaign he pretty much owned the national security/defense credibility issue.

That would be change we could all believe in. Is Obama bold enough for that, though?

Rob said...

I love how you, a law professor who SHOULD care a wit about evidence, seems to think we can completely believe what he says based on the following strong examples of bipartisanship....
Maybe you should be sure to tell your students they can also make incredibly strong arguments like this and be successful. I'm sure it would stand up in any court in the land!

Seven Machos said...

You! A law professor!