who snatched Pat Buchanan's body!
I didn't see this clip live last night, because I've long since given up watching cable news talking heads ruin my love of politics (I watched the convention on CSPAN - novel idea, watch the whole thing, without pundits bloviating over it). However, it warmed my heart to hear this morning that even Pat Buchanan thought Sen. Barack Obama's acceptance speech last night was simply brilliant, the best convention speech ever.
Watching the convention on TV, I got the same feeling of raw energy, of hope welling up into a singularly transformative force, that I used to get at evangelical Youth Rallies and revivals as a teenager on fire for Jesus. Not only were many of the speakers comfortable with the language of faith - a fair amount more comfortable, I would add, than the Republicans who have too often been pimping out the faith of others - they did so in a thoroughly non-theocratic way. I didn't get the idea, as speaker after speaker spoke to the way that their faith helps shape their populist politics, that these were men and women that wanted to convert you, to compel you to adopt a particular religious creed, only the acceptance of which would secure your full citizenship. Instead I felt that these were men and women who shared a sense of calling by a holy power to reach out to all who are suffering under a political and economic system that simply does not care about them. To reach out without exception. To reach out with compassion. And to offer some entirely worldly and pragmatic salvation that isn't pie in the sky, but rather food on the plate.
But what struck me the most was the sense of hope, the sense of calling, the anticipation that the gathered community could make a difference. It was like how church ought to be. And it would have been so even without the many references to faith.
Obama's speech was rightly the climax of both the evening and the convention, and as I watched it I felt proud to be a part of a nation which could, despite its manifold sins and wickedness, produce such a remarkable person.
I know, this is just a gushing, gut-level reaction, rather than some substantive engagement with the content of the speech. And I know, Republicans are and have long been attacking Sen. Obama for his ability to inspire such glowing praise. But I maintain it is a sad day indeed for any party who is reduced to attacking a candidate because of their ability to inspire, their ability to call us passionately to be our best selves. For their ability to draw more than 80,000 people out to hear a political speech. For their rallying of a generation that has never expressed an interest in electoral politics.
For their ability - as the clip above demonstrates - to disarm even their harshest critics, if such critics have the courage to simply sit and listen with a semi-opened mind.
Update: In case you missed it, here's the speech itself:
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