Obama may have lost that “magic” he was so praised for when he first ran for office four years ago but he can now replace that with experience. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Obama’s speech was fine but not an especially overwhelming speech.
Maybe after two conventions worth of
these things, I’m suffering from speech overload, maybe a little bit of Obama-speak overload, but much of what I heard from the president Thursday night sounded awfully familiar. At least until the end, there wasn’t a lot of the soaring rhetoric that he’s so famous for.
Maybe that was the president’s point. He may have lost that “magic” he was so praised for when he first ran for office four years ago but he can now replace that with experience. The president cast himself as the voice of experience.
After listing what he considers his foreign policy successes, from getting out of Iraq to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, he then chided Mitt Romney.
“Now we have a choice. My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy, but from all that we’ve seen and heard they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly. After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy – not al Qaeda, Russia – unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War mind-warp.”
But with experience also comes humility.
“I’m no longer just a candidate, I’m the president,” said Obama. “And that means I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, because I’ve held in my arms mothers and fathers of those who didn’t return. I’ve shared the pain of families who’ve lost their homes and the frustration of workers who’ve lost their jobs, and while I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, ‘I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.'”
This was effective because it not only suggests that prayer is deeply personal for him but it also addresses a criticism from Republicans – that he’s arrogant.
And to make sure he didn’t drag us all down with his speech, he at least ended it with the classic uplift we expect from him.
“America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now. Yes, our path is harder – but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer – but we travel it together. We don’t turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on earth.”
By TOM TANGNEY, 97.3 KIRO FM host
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