The oratory skills of the main speakers at the Democrat National Convention, make the British politicians seem stilted in comparison. The fawning as the crowd prevent them speaking for several minutes, with the speaker not in control (President Bill Clinton was embarrassed by the exuberance). The cynical minded of course would say that this is a show, especially important for party unity after a heated Primary.
With Barack Obama though the hype is genuine. When he talks about change and hope, from changing Washington to giving hard working families the chance for the American dream the cynicism is put to one side. When talking about change coming from the bottom up – that involves not just the person at the top but the people at the grass roots – his message is that it is not just him. To change America is not just to buy into him, but to become part of that movement being an instrument of change even if just a mark on a ballot paper. That message is the twenty first century version of JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. He sold it well.
When talking about McCain, respecting the man but attacking what he has said and his policies was a master stroke: “It’s not that McCain doesn’t care; he just doesn’t get it”. Commenting on McCain’s voting record supporting President George W. Bush 90% of the time: “Do you want to take a 10% chance on change?”. Going on the offense yet sounding positive about America.
McCain next week will have a tough act to compete against – and it may be wishful thinking hoping that hurricane Gustav might delay the GOP from having to with their convention.