Sunday, December 28, 2014

One November Night, Two Great Speeches

A memorable night when both candidates gave terrific speeches.

One November Night, Two Great Speeches

What a night.

In Philadelphia, what a week.

Possibly, most memorable week ever.

Barack Obama, a master orator, gave a beautiful, uplifting speech that was characteristically inclusive and uplifting.

John McCain also gave a beautiful, uplifting speech that was inclusive and uplifting, celebrating a patriotism that includes everyone, not voters of a specific demographic.

What struck me watching them both speak was how far one man had come in America, and how much the other has given.

John McCain has given far more to this country than it has ever asked of him. He has served the nation almost every day of his adult life.

Barack Obama is the son of an immigrant from Kenya and a middle-class family mother from Kansas. For the first time in 12 years, we are looking at a man who ran for the nation's highest office who is not the son of a president, a senator, a millionaire or a four-star admiral. The same holds true for Joe Biden.

This has been a historic campaign, not only for the distinction of its candidates -- the first African American candidate of a major party, two women running for president and vice president, a war hero -- but also its length, cost and character.

We can only hope, as both men suggested, that we can put such divisions and petty partisan politics behind us, as well as the bile that came to characterize so many attack ads. And that McCain, in his return to Congress, can also return to his true maverick status, finally free of the choke of this administration's policies, and be the true leader he is.

The economy effects us all. The current crisis is color-blind and indifferent to class, religion or background. The same is true of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and America's place in the world.

There are already hate-filled posts up today on the website, as if this will change anything. Consider the elegance and grace of both men's speeches last night. Think how charitable President Bush was in extending congratulations to Obama. Remember that anger and hate impoverish us. They never really get citizens anywhere, that these are the emotions that fuel terrorists and thugs, and can  

With any luck, we'll say goodby to Joe the Plumber, "the real Virginia," slurs about socialism, deciding who is a true patriot and American, questioning someone's motivation and religion (as if being Muslim, as Colin Powell memorably argued, is wrong in a democracy founded for freedom of faith), Acorn stealing votes (didn't happen), and trying to divide America into a color war.

Karen Heller Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
This week Karen Heller is live-blogging the Republican convention in true blogger style - at home, surfing the Web and watching TV. She's covered five other conventions. Three were Republican, two were Democratic. Read all of Populist here.

Karen Heller has interviewed Philip Roth and Zsa Zsa Gabor, spent time with Pink and the Philadelphia Orchestra, the celebrated and the exemplary unsung. She's covered Miss America and political conventions. She's been a provocative voice at The Inquirer for nearly 20 years, garnering awards for criticism, feature writing and investigative reporting, and was a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in commentary. Reach Karen at kheller@phillynews.com.

Karen Heller Inquirer Staff Writer
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