Sunday, August 31, 2008



Published on 30/08/2008
By Standard on Saturday Team and Agencies

Senator Barack Obama formally accepted the Democratic Party presidential nomination in a speech that once again acknowledged his Kenyan roots.

The Illinois Senator, who faces Republican Party’s choice for White House in November Senator John McCain, made history yesterday as the first black nominee of a major party in the US.

Obama delivered a speech acclaimed by bloggers and commentators as a collector’s item, on the 45th anniversary of America’s renowned civil rights activist and Baptist minister Dr Martin Luther King’s death.

"When this campaign ends, after future presidents have come and gone, and when today’s young people are grown old, history will remember Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008, as the day a black man became the presidential nominee of a major party,’’ was how the Associated Press captured the tumultuous moment on Obama’s career.

AP reported from Denver City: "It’s a history that belongs to the red states and the blue states and the United States, to borrow the phrase that made people first sit up and listen to Barack Obama only four years ago. Americans who don’t like him, who will never vote for him, own it, too. This is history with the ink still wet; transcendent, yet in your face now."

Obama spoke at Invesco Field in Denver on the last night of the Democratic Convention then hit the road for a joint campaign with his running mate, Delaware Senator Joe Biden, who still commutes on the train daily.

Strong delivery

On Friday, in one speech, Obama addressed every issue his opponent has raised against him. "Obama takes aim at McCain," was the headline one Dallas paper chose for the Senator’s top story.

Casting himself as the face and agent of change Americans can believe in, on the altar of, "eight years is enough for Republicans,’’ Obama promised to end war, cut taxes, and turn away from the path taken by the George W. Bush administration.

"America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this," he told a stadium packed with 85,000 cheering, flag-waving Democrats — a sight as unprecedented in American politics as the possibility of electing a black president.

He talked about experience, judgement, the claims that he is a celebrity not a leader and that he does not share American values. He also talked about President Bush and how he has failed America.

no repeat

"Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land – enough! This moment – this election – is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."

Obama’s speech balanced between soaring in high air and occasionally coming down to earth, where he landed hard on McCain whom he mentioned by name at least 20 times.

He praised his opponent’s service and patriotism, and then attacked him for failing to "get it." "It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care. It’s because John McCain doesn’t get it," he said with a tinge of sarcasm.

He added: "If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice, but it is not the change we need."

On the war on terrorism he poked fun at his opponent: "John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell, but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives."

To those who think he is inexperienced and lacks the seasoning Washington makes of leaders, he preserved two paragraphs: "What the naysayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me. It’s been about you."

"…the change we need doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington."

He went on: "We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe."

He attacked Republican record too: "These challenges are not all of government’s making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush."

He lumped McCain with President George Bush, declaring that the "American promise has been threatened" by eight years under President Bush and that John McCain represented a continuation of policies that undermined the nation’s economy and imperilled its standing around the world.

He addressed people in a football stadium refashioned into a vast political stage. Amid cheers, Obama linked McCain to what he described as the "failed presidency of George W. Bush and the broken politics in Washington."

Deserve better

"America, we are better than these last eight years," he said. "We are a better country than this."

The New York Times referred to the event as, "Politics, Spectacle and History Under Open Sky," while others reported he revived the spirit of America’s slain President J.F. Kennedy. The Indiapolis Star went for the headline, "Dems put one heck of a show".

As he talked, children waved small flags on their parents’ shoulders, tears ran down elderly faces and "Change" signs formed a sea of blue, while chants of "U.S.A." competed with "Yes, we can."

‘We meet at one of those defining moments -- a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more," Obama said.

McCain unleashed the news that would fight Obama’s speech in the press by naming his running mate, Alaska’s Senator Sarah Palin, 44. It was argued he picked on the inexperienced politician to woe those bitter after Obama beat New York Senator Hillary Clinton of the Democratic ticket.

McCain had also said he would run a new television commercial during their convention, which he did. In a show of statesmanship that distinguishes US politics, McCain read an advert saying; "Senator Obama, this is truly a good day for America. Too often the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed. So I wanted to stop and say, Congratulations. How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day. Tomorrow, we’ll be back at it. But tonight, Senator, job well done."

Fight back

In his acceptance speech, Obama went beyond attacking McCain by linking him to Bush and his policies. In the course of the speech, he repeatedly portrayed McCain as the face of the old politics and failed Republican policies.

He attacked the presumed strength of McCain’s campaign, national security and dared him for a live debate.

By accepting the nomination in an open stadium, he became the third nominee of a major party in the nation’s history to leave the site of his convention to give his acceptance speech at a stadium. His aides chose the stadium to signal a break from typical politics and to permit thousands of his supporters from across the country to hear him speak.

But even before Obama left the stage, watching the fireworks, McCain’s campaign issued a statement attacking him.

"Tonight, Americans witnessed a misleading speech that was so fundamentally at odds with the meagre record of Barack Obama," a spokesman for McCain said.

Obama chastised McCain for trying to portray him as a celebrity. He offered a list of people who he said had inspired him; from his grandmother to an unemployed factory worker he met on the campaign trail.