The Speech

August 29, 2008

Who are the best American orators? Reagan and Bill Clinton are politicians whose success was based in large part on oratorical style. The civil rights movement owed a great deal to Martin Luther King Jr.’s ability to inspire audiences. Kennedy is remembered for lofty and inspiring speeches. From the previous century we have the icons Patrick Henry, Webster and Lincoln, among others.

Obama is second to no one I’ve heard, as an orator. In the campaign Hillary Clinton downplayed this, as will McCain. Nonetheless, Obama is an historical figure who is profoundly gifted as a speaker. In terms of inspirational content, his speech last night was not far from the “I Have a Dream” speech 45 years earlier and not far from Kennedy’s exhortations to give America your best.

If you have a chance you must attend an Obama speech but in any case watch them on t.v. In years to come you will want to be able to say that you saw this.

Here you can see the speech.

The Peace Demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention

August 26, 2008

The Denver police are prepared to arrest thousands of people at the convention, having converted warehouses to holding tanks. My question is why were arrests on such a massive scale anticipated or at least prepared for?

The Democratic Party overseeing the herding of demonstrators into warehouses? Surely they were not anticipating massive demonstration from people on the right. Placards saying “Save Gitmo,” “keep our troops in Iraq'” “Don’t Tax the Rich,” “no welfare for injured troops,” “support pharmaceutical companies,” “a pox on the middle class,” “Let
Them Eat Cake,” that sort of thing. Probably not likely.

The demonstrators are largely involved in peace demonstrations. To my knowledge there has been no hint of unruly behavior other than some groups being in the streets. There is something a little off putting about abruptly jailing these people as the self declared but now apparently hedging candidate for peace accepts the party’s nomination. Presumably many of those jailed are people who voted for the candidate inside the building secured largely through corporate sponsorship.

I wonder if they fear something like the 1968 Chicago demonstrations which resulted in a police riot and seek to avoid that by the early jailing of anyone protesting. Kind of an ironic solution.

I wonder if this signals that Obama and party leadership are aware of a significant cleft between the party and the peace movement.

I wonder whether the peace demonstrators will be able to see from the warehouses the speech that Obama will give on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. King of course led peaceful demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Pretty ironic that they want the streets cleared of anti-war demonstrators so they can commemorate a great anti-war demonstrator.