Obama’s Election-Night Speech

Posted by Katherine | November 12, 2008 – 5:42 pm
Watching Obama’s speech
In Grant Park, watching Obama’s speech
[Gregwar / Flickr]

Reactions to Obama’s election-night speech are still turning up as people recover from election hangovers and resume blogging. Although 46% of voters chose McCain last Tuesday, negative critiques of Obama’s speech haven’t been easy to find. So here are a few positive reviews. (Send us critical ones if you come across them!)

Lizzo from There’s Always Something to Talk About was highly impressed with McCain’s speech and blown away by Obama’s.

i loved how eloquent and articulate it was (no surprise), how it reached out to all of america, how it was simultaneously realistic and hopeful. i sat hunched forward on my couch, eyes riveted on the television:

“tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.”

for a moment i was no longer liz, the grad student who can find something caustic to say about pretty much anything political, but i was elizabeth, the daughter of immigrants who came to this country with nothing except those ideals, and my heart welled up. president-elect obama. i have never been so proud to be an american.

and man, how exciting it is it that we’ll get to hear him speak all the time? […] when this man speaks, i want the tv on. and this is never happened in my lifetime, for me at least.

Jonathan Williams is enthusastically Texan. He attributes his political awakening to Obama and was especially inspired by the election-night speech:

I have been apolitical for most of my adult life. Like many Americans, I had become utterly disinterested by politicos over the years. This year, however, was different. The ascent of Barack Obama has renewed my interest in the political process. In fact, not until President-Elect Obama delivered his victory speech on election night would I have ever believed that a speech delivered by a politician could move me almost to tears. Now, I more fully understand the power of hope.

Megan Harris, a Canadian public-relations expert, liked Obama’s self-effacing and downbeat notes.

His victory speech I thought hit the right tone. He did not celebrate the victory for himself but for the country. The two points I liked best were his reference to the voters who did not support him and his attempt to temper expectations of voters.

ALV is a self-professed idealist who believes in American exceptionalism — not the “American righteousness” kind but the “America introduced something critical for the future welfare of mankind” kind. The last eight years have tested ALV’s idealism, and Obama’s speech went a long way towards restoring it.

I think I have finally figured out just why Barack Obama moves me as much as he does, and it starts with the words in his victory speech that moved me the most, playing with Lincoln’s (second?) most famous excerpt from the Gettysburg address, that “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” has not perished from the face of the Earth.

Like ALV, thirty-five-year-old Sean heard a stirring historical reference. He was especially taken with Obama’s allusion to Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was deeply moved by Obama’s acceptance speech, particularly the part where he echoed Dr. Martin Luther King’s words from the speech he gave the night before he was killed when he said: “We may not get there this year or even in one term, but I’ve never had more hope that we will get there. We as a people will get there.” […]

Does a President Obama mean that racism has or will disappear in America? No. Does it mean that magical winds of change will blow across the land, and across the globe bringing peace, prosperity, and brotherly love to all? Highly doubtful. […] But I believe that regardless of what kind of president Obama turns out to be, our nation has gone a step up, not down, in electing him.

David Risley, a web entrepreneur, lives in Tampa Bay in Florida. He did not vote for Obama — because he worries that hard-left economic policies would rocket the country into a long depression. Obama’s speech, though, gave him a glimmer of hope:

My hope is that Obama will live up to his victory speech last night and govern from the center. A truly pragmatic and moderate leader can do this country very well. Obama is very pragmatic and likable. He is one of the best communicators I’ve seen in the game. But, whether he’ll be a moderate or not has yet to be seen. His record shows it may be a longshot. […]

Obama, don’t let us down. You’ve got a chance to be a truly great President. You’ve got the skill and the emotional support from the country. Don’t blow it by lurching to the left. It will do our country a huge disservice.

Even some radical progressives — who don’t see Obama as a left lurcher — seem taken by the idea that the “era of extremes” might be ceding to politics of compromise.

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