Thursday, July 28, 2016

"We Don't Fear the Future"--more on President Obama's DNC Speech

Before Thursday's DNC speeches--mostly Hillary's--a few more commentaries on President Obama's speech.

At NBC:President Obama roused Democrats on Wednesday with a progressive call to action, but his speech was also a hit with a narrow group of conservatives who have spent the last eight years opposing his agenda: The #NeverTrump movement.

Washington Post's The Morning Plum had a similar view: If there was one single overarching goal in President Obama’s remarkable speech to the nation last night, it was this: To cast not just Donald Trump, but Trumpism writ large, as a unique and even existential threat to the American experiment itself.

This was a lofty philosophical project, and it was widely seen as such in the commentary that greeted the speech immediately after it concluded. But underneath it was a cold, hard, long-term calculation: The GOP’s nomination of Trump, some Democrats believe, has created a unique opportunity for the Democrats to lay claim to the mantle of sober, responsible, sane, and mature governing party in a manner that could transform our politics to an unforeseen degree in coming years. This morning, there are indications that some conservatives agree with this, too.

Vanity Fair: President Barack Obama delivered yesterday’s line of the night: “We don’t look to be ruled.” Many lines by many speakers were delivered, of course, but none quite measured up to that one. Commenters on both the left and the right picked up on it and, even when complaining about Obama, acknowledged its force.

Wired selected a different quote-- “We Don’t Fear the Future—We Shape It” and contrasted his speech with Trump's: The America that Obama depicted was the emotional, spiritual, and directional opposite. Where Trump described a national nightmare, President Obama articulated the American Dream. Where Trump’s words seared, Obama’s soared. Where Trump described the past as a blueprint, Obama urged the audience to embrace change.

Under the headline Obama Argues That Trump Isn’t American Enough to Be President Eric Levitz at New York wrote: Donald Trump launched his career in conservative politics by challenging Barack Obama’s claim to American identity. On Wednesday night in Philadelphia, Obama returned the favor.

The president did not ask to see the mogul’s birth certificate. Nor did he engage with the (disconcertingly plausible) theory that Trump’s candidacy is being aided by a hostile foreign government. Rather, Obama argued that the intolerant authoritarianism that Donald Trump embodies is alien to our nation's bedrock values."

John Cassidy at the New Yorker also hit on the Trump is un-American theme, and observed: Watching the President, you got the sense he had been waiting to deliver this speech for a long time. Yes, he was carrying out a political mission, but it was also personal. Trump hasn’t just insulted Obama personally: Trump’s entire candidacy represents an affront to everything that Obama stands for and got elected on—hope, inclusiveness, reason, and faith in a democratic political system (even if that system is frustratingly deadlocked).

Cassidy found his strongest evidence at the end of Obama's speech:

The President was now approaching his crescendo. These American values, he said, were why the country could “attract strivers and entrepreneurs from around the globe . . . why our military can look the way it does, every shade of humanity, forged into common service . . . why anyone who threatens our values, whether Fascists or Communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.”

It took a moment for the crowd to grasp what Obama had done, lumping Trump in with Hitler, Stalin, and isis. As applause rang out, he pressed on, his voice rising. “That is America. That is America. Those bonds of affection, that common creed. We don’t fear the future; we shape it, we embrace it, as one people, stronger together than we are on our own. That’s what Hillary Clinton understands—this fighter, this stateswoman, this mother and grandmother, this public servant, this patriot. That’s the America she’s fighting for.”

Tina Nguyen at Vanity Fair highlighted this quote: “America is already great. America is already strong,” he offered. “And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump.”

Quartz titled their piece on the speech simply:Barack Obama just reminded America why it will miss him

By the way....President Obama used this resonant language: "That is America: Those bonds of affection, that common creed."

"Bonds of affection" is an expression from a famous passage by Abraham Lincoln:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

No comments: