Ambition, distraction, uglification and derision

My husband had TiVo’d the speech, so we started watching it.  Poor guy, he’d like to support Obama, but he had a real problem with the absence of a “there there.”  He was disgusted by the video’s reference to corporate “fat cats,” which he said sounded dated and artificial.  My take was that it had all the warm glow of a Depend’s commercial, right down to the fact that it was coy about the core virtue’s of the product (which no one ever wants to talk about).

Mr. Bookworm was equally unhappy about the speech.  He expected something special, and found himself listening to a somewhat boring, very generic, political speech.  He turned it off about a third of the way through, but I went back and read the rest. I think Lewis Carroll provided the right phrase to describe a speech such as Obama’s.  It’s equal parts ambition, distraction, uglification and derision.  The rhetoric is surprisingly flat, and often muddled in places.  The ideas are trite.  The details often meaningless or conflicting.  And the speech is mean, mean, mean.  Lacking a record on which to run, Obama busies himself launching really vicious attacks on McCain.  I don’t recall ever hearing such a nasty, ad hominem acceptance speech.

My more detailed comments are below, although I redacted a few introductory blah-blahs:

With profound gratitude and great humility [hah!], I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.


Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story – of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart – that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

That’s why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women – students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors — found the courage to keep it alive.  [This has been nice language about America’s promise.]


We meet at one of those defining moments – a moment when our nation is at war [funny to say considering that, with the Surge’s success, something he opposed, we’re winding down a war], our economy is in turmoil [the timing was bad for this phrase, given the announcement yesterday that the economy grew 3.3%], and the American promise has been threatened once more [what does this mean?].

Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit card bills you can’t afford to pay, and tuition that’s beyond your reach.  [Democratic speeches are sooo depressing.  It makes one long for Reagan’s “Shining City on a Hill” — and that was a speech given during the economic and social nadir years of the Carter presidency.]

[snip]This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.  [The usual hard luck stories.  Apparently Democratic candidates meet only the pathetic, never the functional.]

This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he’s worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.  [Ditto.]

We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty [and keep in mind that this is an utterly false and slanderous meme]; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.  [Ditto.]


Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we’ll also hear about those occasions when he’s broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

But the record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? [That you have good judgment?  Bush wasn’t perfect, but the country, for the most part, has done well economically under his guidance, he weathered the horrible 9/11 storm, and he defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq.  Also, no sex scandals.  It wasn’t that bad.] I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.  [Dumb — lawyers? — math.  It’s not the number of times he sided with Bush, it’s the nature of the issues as to which he sided and as to which he parted ways.]

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives – on health care and education and the economy – Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made “great progress” under this President. [McCain was right.  It was those lowered taxes that spurred the economy, especially after 9/11.  Even now, the economy has been strong enough to hold off a recession.] He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. [Ditto.] And when one of his chief advisors – the man who wrote his economic plan – was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a “mental recession,” and that we’ve become, and I quote, “a nation of whiners.”  [True, at least on the Democratic side of the spectrum.  We’ve gone from hardy pioneers to people traumatized by hangnails.]

A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. [Duh.  When you have a job, you hold onto it until it’s really over.  That’s not some great moral fortitude.  That’s common sense (which is a virtue more common to ordinary Americans than to Obama, apparently.] Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. [No, they’re not, and to them I am truly grateful.  Interestingly, though, these people seem more supportive of McCain, who appreciates their fortitude, rather than viewing them as victims.] They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know.

Now, I don’t believe that Senator McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn’t know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred million Americans? [Is Obama so stupid that he doesn’t understand that companies that are heavily taxed do two things?  First, they pass the taxes on to their customers and, second, when the customers can no longer carry the burden, they leave town, leaving the customers in the lurch.  As Sean Hannity pointed out, the federal government probably makes a greater profit on each gallon of gasoline sold in the US than do the oil companies.] How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people’s benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?  [The theme here is that government is good and that McCain, who wishes to limit government, is therefore bad.  As it is, I happen to be deeply suspicious of the government’s ability to manage large projects well on a regular basis.]

It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care. It’s because John McCain doesn’t get it.  [Particularly nasty hit, implying that McCain is stupid and out-of-touch.]

For over two decades, he’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy – give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else.  [What conservative fiscal philosophy says is that if you free money from government clutches, it eventually benefits everyone.  Right now, I’m thinking of all the water trapped in icebergs.  Melt them, and there’s a whole lot more water to go around.  Right now, your money and mine is locked in federal pockets and Obama wants more, more, more.  My suggestion is that, if he and his rich friends think the government does such a good job with money, they should give theirs to the feds — and the IRS has a way to do that — and leave my money alone.] In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is – you’re on your own. [Funnily enough, I think most grown-ups can handle being on their own without Obama standing over them dictating what they can do.] Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps – even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own.  [Even more funnily, this has worked.  Americans who haven’t gotten sucked into the welfare cycle may start off as poor immigrants but, after a generation or two, they’re middle class.  This distinguishes them from immigrants in, say, Europe, who are infantilized into perpetual, demoralizing, destructive dependence on the state.]

Well it’s time for them to own their failure. [Again, unusually nasty.] It’s time for us to change America.

You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President – when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.  [Clinton’s presidency definitely straddled a large economic boom, helped by the signal, and coincidental good luck to preside over the extraordinary growth of the dot coms.  Still it was a bust by the time he handed the White House to Bush and then, nine months later, 9/11 hit.  I’ve always thought it was a tribute to Bush’s policies, especially the tax cuts he fought for, that the economy didn’t collapse immediately because of that blow.  Be that as it may, while Obama’s statement may be true in gross, I’d rather see the statistics and understand the details before buying into Obama’s broad conclusions.]  [Update:  Turns out I was right to be suspicious.  He lied.]

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job – an economy that honors the dignity of work.  [Apparently the two — rich people and secure waitresses — are mutually exclusive.  Who knew?]

The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great – a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.  [Bad phrasing.  I can believe someone didn’t catch this.]

Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton’s Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.  [A mauor non sequitur, clearly intended to show that, even though Obama has no military chops, he has empathy.]

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.  [I find interesting here, as I did in the video, how careful Obama is about presenting his Mom.  No mention of the second husband.  No mention of her abandoning him to his grandparents.  No mention of her anti-Americanism.  And what about the sister?  Even though I’m connected, I’d forgotten about her, and my husband never even knew she existed.]

When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.

And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She’s the one who taught me about hard work. She’s the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she’s watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.  [Apparently Grandma’s been rescued from her hidey-hole under the bus.]

I don’t know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States.  [Whoa!  Talk about defensive.  Also a non sequitur.  In America, the larger numbers of celebrities come from simple backgrounds.  The fact is that Obama’s not hanging with the simple folk now, and that he and his acolytes are treating him, not as a hard-working politician, but precisely like one of those celebrities.  A real mistake, I think, to bring this up.]

What is that promise?

It’s a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.  [Everything I know I learned in kindergarten.  Trite, and lack in rhetorical magic.]

It’s a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.  [I agree.  I just think his tax and protectionist policies will destroy American business growth and initiative.]

Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves – protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.  [He says government cannot solve all our problems, but he wants to make the government grow — on my money — in ways never before envisioned.  Again, ordinary rhetoric at odds with his political conduct.]

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work.  [Blah, blah.  It was this kind of generic talk that quickly turned my husband off.]

That’s the promise of America – the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.

That’s the promise we need to keep. That’s the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President.  [Ah, at last!  Meat!]

Change means a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.  [Oh, boy, is that going to be a fine line he creates.  Keep the capital gains tax cuts, but draw them in such a narrow way they benefit only those Obama deems worthy.  Somehow I don’t see that opening the floodgates to investment and innovation.]

I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.  [Why not just simplify taxes, so that everyone pays less?  History shows that lower taxes always improve the economy and the government’s income.  Considering that the ones he’s still planning on screwing with high taxes are also the ones who account for most of this nation’s tax revenue, this is, unsurprisingly, unfair and bad economic policy.  Or, some might say, income redistribution.]

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Washington’s been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he’s said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.  [Wrong, wrong, wrong.  We have vast resources and drawing on them is a pretty damn good long-term solution.  The answer isn’t to get off of fossil fuels.  It’s to invent ways to use them cleanly and efficiently.  We have the fossil fuels.  He and his party prevent us from touching them.]

As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves [ahem — those are fossil fuels], invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. [I like the last; his party doesn’t.] I’ll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. [How is Obama going to help them?  He’ll regulate more is my guess.  The American auto industry would do better with less regulation, and more incentives for innovation and effiency, most of which incentives come from the market.] I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. [How?] And I’ll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels [is this a concession that the current generation of biofuels is a bust, using enormous amounts of energy to create, chewing up farmland in undeveloped countries, and creating interesting new pollutants?]; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced.  [How about taking the resource we have and figuring out how to use it more wisely?  And if alternate fuels are so wonderful, how about figuring out that the market will help?  I don’t want the government investing 150 billion of my dollars as it tries to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  As Obama implicitly conceded, the government’s intense focus on biofuels was a stupid bust.]

America, now is not the time for small plans.  [I thought he said government wasn’t the answer, but he’s sure thinking big for government — it’s going to revamp the autoindustry, create brand new types of fuel, increase the tax burden on the rich, etc.  He’s flip-flopped in a few paragraphs.]

Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don’t have that chance. I’ll invest in early childhood education. I’ll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I’ll ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American – if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.  [This is standard blah-blah that we’ve heard from every politician since the turn of the last century.  This is basically a signal to the teacher’s unions that, under Obama, you’re very, very good to go.  None of this has to do with education innovation.  It’s just same old, same old, only at greater expense.  By the way, I don’t know if it’s true any more, but a decade ago, the worst performing school district in the the SF Bay Area — Sausalito — was also the most heavily funded.  It turns out that throwing good money after bad doesn’t work.]

Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.  [His he backing off of universal health care, or is this just blah blah?]

Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.

Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for future generations.  [He should talk to Biden about this.  Biden knows about changing Bankruptcy laws, since he gave the credit card companies a big hand with that.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you.  I don’t think people should have been able to incur vast credit card debt and just walk away from it.  There’s a difference between hard luck, for which I have sympathy, and the type of profligacy I so often saw in connection with young people and their sense that the credit card was “other people’s money.”  Still, it shows Biden looking out for corporate America, not the irresponsible little guy.]

And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day’s work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.  [We pretty much have that.  If I have the same job as you, I probably have the same salary as you.  However, as a mother, I’m likely to choose part-time or flex-time jobs, and those tend to be in lower paid industries, never mind that I’m working fewer hours.  Likewise, lacking men’s vastly greater physical strength, I’m less likely to be working in dangerous and dirty jobs and, appropriately, get higher compensation.  For him to say this is just pandering to angry women.]

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I’ve laid out how I’ll pay for every dime – by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don’t help America grow. [What is this about Democrats that they see corporations as separate from people?  Corporations are made up of people.  They have employees and shareholders.  A healthy corporation pays its employees well, and pays nice dividends.  Obama is stuck in 19th Century economic rhetoric and thinking.] But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less – because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.  [I’d love it if someone would really do that.  They all promise it.  They never do it.]

And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America’s promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our “intellectual and moral strength.” Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. [Should I worry about the energy police knocking on my door?] Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can’t replace parents; that government can’t turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.  [I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment.]

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility – that’s the essence of America’s promise.  [Not soaring rhetoric, and it sounds as if “mutual responsiblity” might mean nanny state, but not a bad point.]

And just as we keep our keep our promise to the next generation here at home, so must we keep America’s promise abroad. 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.  [Really?  So far, you’ve been treating debates as if they’re a contagious disease.  I really wouldn’t have thrown down this gauntlet if I were the neophyte Obama.  Maybe he’s trying to make McCain stand up and roar, in the hope that people will get frightened.]

For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. [Yeah, boy was Obama brave when he could basically opine from the comfort of his living room.] When John McCain said we could just “muddle through” in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell – but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives.  [For Obama to boast about his warrior chops after he got the Surge totally and completely wrong just doesn’t work for me.  Also, stop me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Obama, as always, all talk and no action?  He didn’t do anything about anything as regards these points.]

And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush Administration, even after we learned that Iraq has a $79 billion surplus while we’re wallowing in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war.  [Now this is not only mean, it’s just plain dishonest.  And at so many levels it’s hard to articulate.  The only reason Obama’s call for withdrawal is on the table is because of the Surge he so vigorously opposed.  We can withdraw in a few years because it will be safe to do so.  As for Obama, when things in Iraq got tough, he started waffling and said we ought to stay there, a statement he now seems conveniently to have forgotten.  As for McCain, I don’t notice him calling for escalation and expansion.  He’s been steady:  you win the war, you secure the peace — and the latter is sufficiently important that you take the time to do it right.  Obama sounds both foolish and dishonest here to anyone who has been paying attention.]

That’s not the judgment we need. That won’t keep America safe. We need a President who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.  [Again, nasty, because it tries to make McCain look old and out of it.]

You don’t defeat a terrorist network that operates in eighty countries by occupying Iraq. You don’t protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. [What you do, apparently, is go to Iran and have a nice cup of coffee with Ahmadinejad, instead.] You can’t truly stand up for Georgia when you’ve strained our oldest alliances. [Huh?] If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice – but it is not the change we need.  [Again, exceptionally nasty and dishonest.  McCain parted ways a long time ago with the way in which Bush conduct the war, and time proved McCain right and Bush wrong.  For anyone who thinks about it, too, it shows that McCain has experience, while Obama just has theory.]

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. [Uh, we are the party of McGovern; we are the party of Code Pink; we are the party of MoveOn “General Betray-Us” dot Org, we are the Party of Pelosi and Reid.] Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe. [Oh, boy!  Is he disconnected from his own reality.] 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.

As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.  [Clinton redux:  we don’t fight wars that benefit America’s interests, we only fight wars that benefit Europe’s interest, to ensure that the chattering classes in London, Paris and Berlin think well of us.]

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. [Uh, that’s what McCain’s promised, and I trust him more than you to make it happen.  It’s also a direct lie to what you promised your acolytes early on, which was immediate withdrawal.] I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. [Campaign rhetoric is easy, Mr. “Tea with Ahmadinejad.”  I keep coming back to that because, while Obama is a dirty fighter, he also has no fixed principles and is a complete neophyte.  People like Jong-Il and Ahmadinejad will eat him for breakfast.] I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.  [Considering his absolute lack of practical experience and his failure to perform in any of his jobs once he was in positions of responsibility, these are great promises, but I have absolutely no confidence in his ability to make them realities.]

These are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain.  [Why have you been running from debates to date then?]

But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other’s character and patriotism.  [Huh?]

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain.  [I don’t recall McCain ever challenging Obama’s patriotism.  Indeed, McCain has been quite the gentleman.  I suspect that Obama is setting it up so that, as to every criticism, he’ll say “You’re challenging my patriotism.  That’s not fair.”  Remember, that’s how narcissists fight.] The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America – they have served the United States of America.  [True, but trite.]

So I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.  [Wow!  Nasty.  He hit me back first, Mom!]

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can’t just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose – our sense of higher purpose. And that’s what we have to restore.  [Hope and change, although the record shows neither to be true.  His view of America is dark and dim, and his politics are typical dirty, Illinois-style Democratic politics.]

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. [Yes, we do agree, but you’ve shown that your focus is purely on abortion and not on reducing pregnacies, which would included challenging a sex obsessed culture.] The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. [Yeah, but your record shows that you want to ban all guns.  So while this rhetoric is moderate, your conduct hasn’t been.] I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. [Only the ultimate flakes on the far Right would challenge this.  Conservatives simply say that marriage is different, and is uniquely limited to men and women.  Whether or not you agree with that latter view, Obama set up a mean-spirited straw man.] Passions fly on immigration, but I don’t know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. [This is a meaningless sentence.  It conflates two ideas, the bathetic and the practical, to come up with absolutely nothing.  What we do know is that enforcing America’s current laws has changed the immigration debate.  What we know is that Americans were less incensed by the immigrants themselves, and infinitely more incensed by the way in which liberals and illegals conspired to ignore America’s laws.] This too is part of America’s promise – the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. [Oh, Mr. Obama.  Nothing about your talk is happy.  I get quite depressed listening to your grim vision of America.] They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that’s to be expected. Because if you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.  [What does this mean?  Is Obama saying that, because he has no record to run on, he’s painting McCain as a boogey man?  Reading the speech, that’s absolutely what Obama did, but I don’t think he really meant to confess here to his rhetorical tactic.  I think he’s trying to say that his vapid visions and lack of experience trump McCain’s practical experience and optimistic view of America’s greatness.]

You make a big election about small things.

And you know what – it’s worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn’t work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it’s best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.  [Again, nasty.]

I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don’t fit the typical pedigree, and I haven’t spent my career in the halls of Washington.  [I’m an outsider.  Please ignore Mr. Biden for the moment.]

[I’m bored now.  You can fisk the rest of the speech, which follows below.  I just don’t have the energy and I have work to do.]

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me. It’s been about you.

For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us – that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it – because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

America, this is one of those moments.

I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming. Because I’ve seen it. Because I’ve lived it. I’ve seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work. I’ve seen it in Washington, when we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.

And I’ve seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and in those who got involved again after a very long time. In the Republicans who never thought they’d pick up a Democratic ballot, but did. I’ve seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit – that American promise – that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It’s a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours – a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln’s Memorial, and 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 frustration of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead – people of every creed and color, 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, God Bless you, and and God Bless the United States of America.

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  • dg

    This is why I always felt not entirely comfortable with the GOP:

    Peggy Noonan lives in a nice apartment in NYC, has had a very privileged life, and it shows as she makes fun of the sob stories of real Americans suffering in a tough economy. She makes Phil Graham’s comments about whiny Americans look good. Joe Scarborough, who asked where the Bush and Republican-led federal aid was, out loud and on camera, shortly after Katrina had blown through, should not be laughing at such insensitivity during a time of real economic insecurity in America.

    I know her attack is the speech, not the hurting Americans, but even that criticism is arrogant. You can call the liberals on MSNBC praising Obama’s and others’ speeches as fawning, but when Pat Buchanan and William Crystal are doing it, you have to wonder in what bubble Noonan actually lives. Talk about someone with the power of eloquence and no substance…

  • BrianE

    Noonan’s comments speak more to the excesses of 24/7 media coverage, talking heads, and being too clever for your own good.
    As a speechwriter, Noonan paints pictures with words, and while her off the cuff comment might play on the Colbert show, it was over the top in this hyper-sensitized era we are in.
    Her hyperbole, though, does raise a valid point– governing by anecdote. As much as we we sympathize with the plight of individuals who have “slipped through the cracks” or whatver shopworn phrase you choose, it is not a good way to decide policy.

  • Ymarsakar

    Obama’s done more to crush the poorer class of Americans than his political opponents. Obama needs to change himself before he will have the wisdom to change America for the better.