Well folks. This is it. Barack Obama has claimed the Democratic nomination. The first African American to claim this distinct honor. Now, from those (few) of you who have been reading this blog, you'll know that I initially supported Hillary Clinton, but as it became apparent Hillary wasn't going to be able to unite the Democratic party, switched over to supporting Mr. Obama. That being said, I watched Mr. Obama give his speech tonight (more on that later) and I was actually pretty happy for both he and the party.
And yes, Hillary, stubbornly, did not concede the nomination. And no, despite what the chattering class says, it doesn't matter. It doesn't hurt the party. Either you were going to support Mr. Obama, and rally around the him for the good of the party, or you weren't. It had been apparent for quite sometime that Mr. Obama was going to win the nomination. I don't think Hillary giving her approval was going to change that.
Back to the speech. He gave a really good speech. Of course, there were moments when I felt inspired by his command of the audience and his communication skills, but, I wasn't...impressed. I think it's because I've watched so many of his speeches, and so recognize his speech pattern and his message that it doesn't quite ring the same bell. But, it was still an effective speech. He got out his message, gave his accolades to Hillary in an attempt to win over her voters, and compared John McCain to George W. Bush. Everything that he was supposed to say. And he said it all with that long, draw out flair of his, accompanied by his "thousand yard" stare switching back from the left side of the audience to the right side of th audience (no doubt to see the teleprompters stationed through out the building.)
He seemed presidential in stating, “Tonight, we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another — a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Because of you, tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.” And , indeed, I hope presidential is what Mr. Obama will become.
But the road to that point will be long. I have no doubt in my mind the difficulties that Mr. Obama will face against the Republican political machine. This election year was supposed to be a cake walk for the Democrats yet the most recent polls show a McCain-Obama match up a statistical tie.
Republicans will, no doubt, hammer in the points that have been haunting Mr. Obama: inexperience, personal ties (well, now severed, but that's irrelevant) to his church, etc. I'm also a little afraid of the things that might also pop up later. I don't think anyone believes he's been as well vetted as Mr. McCain. We know all of Mr. McCain's secrets (well, except the true extent his wife's tax returns) but there are still things about Mr. Obama that could exist.
Even still, I'm not sure this will even matter. I think the key to an Obama victory is the same strategy that got President Bush elected: turn out the vote. I think those factors are in favor for Mr. Obama (I think Hillary supporters will come to their senses just like I did, and just like Republicans who did not support McCain but now do, did). It'll be a helluv a ride for sure. And I intend to be there. And I hope you will as well. Democrats, Independents, and even Republicans, I think we can do it. In the words of Mr. Obama, as he closed his victory speech, as his voice rose in rolling, rhythmic cadence over the thunderous St. Paul crowd, "America, this is our moment. This is our time... Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.... when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals." Yes, we can.