The Democrats in Denver can leave town with the calm assurance of a successful convention, united and with a clear sense of direction. Rarely have we seen four consecutive nights of solid and inspirational speeches. From Ted Kennedy, to Michelle Obama, to Hillary Clinton, to Bill Clinton, to John Kerry, to Al Gore, to Joe Biden, and finally to Barack Obama, America was once again treated to the best expressions of speech making in America. The speech delivered by Barack Obama yesterday, however, stood apart from all the others.
We all know that Obama’s candidacy is historic and the fact that he delivered his address 45 years after Martin Luther King made his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech only added to the historic occasion. What was more important was the content of Obama’s speech. He delivered a clear distinction between the America he wants to lead and a John McCain America. He showed a combative streak as we have rarely seen of him, and energized the crowd for the fall campaign. What was particularly significant was his description of his priorities should he become president as of January 2009. It was inspiring and it was clear. He concluded his speech by returning to the ideals and vision that has been so successful for him since he began his campaign in February 2007.
In delivering his speech, he took special care in responding to all the attacks that have been coming from his opponent. He showed judgment, wisdom and a profound attachment to America and its values. He was able to demonstrate that he was in the proud tradition of Lincoln, Kennedy and Clinton when it comes to experience and inspiration. Experience is not always that easy to define. Some define it in terms of years, some define it in terms of difficult assignments, and some define it by the degree of adversity. But experience cannot be the sole criteria or else America would only need to hire a committee of head hunters. Experience without judgment or wisdom is just a good resume. Obama showed that his life story is a mixture of worthwhile experience for the task ahead coupled with sure judgment. His first major decision illustrated that when he chose Joe Biden.
Is he ready to lead? According to Bill Clinton, he is. America needs a fundamental change in direction. But this change in direction must be achieved the American way. A respect for fundamental values that have formed the American character, a commitment to ideals that have contributed to America’s sense of purpose and a vision based on respect, compassion, and justice. Obama’s candidacy fits that criteria and yesterday he showed he was ready to lead.