Barack Obama is a truly marvelous speaker. His speech tonight was quite impressive, so far as rhetorical skill and speech cadence go. He is obviously sincere and thus comes across as a decent man who cares for his country. To my mind demonizing him serves no real purpose in the context of a needed civil debate. Rick Warren was right when he appealed for such a civil debate in his Saddleback Forum two weeks ago, which is still the best opportunity we have had to compare the two candidates seriously. Sadly, it may be the last given how this campaign will go. There is a odd irony in this. An evangelical pastor may have done more to allow us to get to know these two men than any media figure or interviewer in America. I was so proud of Rick Warren that I cannot easily find the words to say, "Good job my brother."
I listened to Senator Obama’s acceptance speech this evening with real interest. I have followed Barack Obama closely for more than four years now, often finding some good things to say about him. I have read his two books from cover to cover, listened to many of his speeches for over four years now and read his statements about policy carefully, when I can actually find statements on policy he has actually written. What I heard tonight was little more than a typical Democratic Party campaign speech. People are hurting and we, that is the federal government, are here to help you. (I still agree with Ronald Reagan’s line that the worst twelve words you may ever hear are these: “We are from the government and we are here to help you.”
For the so-called agent of change there was very little “real change” in the content of what I heard tonight. Even Bill Clinton offered several truly “new” ideas in 1992 when he ran his first national campaign. He knew he had to become a more centrist Democrat to win and ran in that direction. But Barack Obama offered little such substance in his stirring and crowd pleasing address.
One of Obama’s closing paragraphs in his speech tonight said:
"I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. 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. 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 more the 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."
That is quite an agenda! Is there any wonder that some people hear the tones of “messianic promise” in such words? I do not know a living human being who could possibly do what Obama promised to do that one single paragraph. Frankly, such speeches generally offer little substance. This one was no disappointment in that sense.
I like the man personally. I like the way he reaches people in powerful ways. But I am still waiting to hear him really tell me how he will govern, make tough decisions and offer solutions to some of the pressing problems our nation faces politically. His record is very thin, his answers often extremely vague and his programs seem to be those of the failed past. “A rose by any other name is still a rose.”
Please tell me how government can solve the problems of marriage, family and personal responsibility. If I hear one more appeal to the mortgage crisis that tells me government should rescue people who should have never bought their over-priced homes I think I will scream. And there was even the suggestion tonight that personal credit card debt was a government issue. Give me a break people.
I fear that the best we can hope for in the coming two months is an honest dialog between these two men.
McCain has offered to do townhall meetings with Obama for months. Obama refuses even though in his book he says this is the best forum he knows for modern dialog about real political issues. I sure wish he would do a series of townhall meetings. It would be good for us. My guess is his campaign staff will never allow it to happen because these candidates are so tightly scripted by their handlers. In this case Obama has more to lose than to gain since every one knows how well McCain does in these settings, speaking straight from his gut as he does. This is what stood out in the Saddleback Forum so clearly. Like him or not he gives straight, simple, clear answers.