Saturday, August 30, 2008

Obama = Kennedy

Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention was great. The most important goal of the speech was to demythologize himself. He had to come down from the mountain without stone tablets and instead make it clear that he is running for the earthly office of President of the United States. In doing so, he took away McCain's best talking point. No longer the Messiah come to save us, he cast himself as a Presidential candidate who exhibits the temperament and judgment needed in this time in history. He both inspired and attacked. He gave examples in the abstract and in the concrete. And he invoked his humble background and his perspective growing up as a bi-racial in America. With this speech, Obama finally became what he should have been aspiring to be - the new Kennedy.

I find this election cycle errily similiar to 1960. Kennedy and Obama represent the same call for a new frontier. Neither man had or has the credentials to be reformers, but they did and do have personality to be outsiders. Both men are elegant, calm under pressure and able to successfully avoid appearing as if the Washington game is the only thing they live to do. Both men also had and have a firm grasp on the need to give rhetorical renewal to our politics. Their language was and is hopeful, uplifting and spiritual.

McCain is nervous, and should be so. I think his selection of Sarah Palin is a bold move, but one made out of desperation. It is a gamble, and in politics, those who consider themselves safe do not gamble. The Republican National Convention has some high expectations to meet. We will have to see if the McCain campaign can regroup.

Either way, history will be made no matter what. The control of white men in the executive will be broken.

Mason Slidell

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