On Tuesday night, as I sat through former Democratic governor of Virginia Mark Warner's keynote speech, which sounded more like a campaign speech for his Senate run than a keynote speech, I wondered when the transcendent moment of this convention would be. It wasn't Michelle Obama's opening address on Monday. As warm and fuzzy as it was seeing her and her kids onstage and seeing the love in the Obama family, I thought her speech was kind of leaden and damp. Warner's was just as damp, and weirdly unaware of where he was and what he should be doing with the moment. In general, the Dems didn't seem to realize they were in a fight and have seemed more interested in appearing palatable to the voters on the margin than in saying who they are and what they stand for. You'd be hard pressed to even know, from the tone and tenor of the convention so far, that we've been through the most disastrous presidency in at least my lifetime. Warm, fuzzy and limp. Scant recognition that this is a moment to seize and a call to arms.
Despite the stakes being so high the Democratic National Convention, as I've said in this blog before, has seemed more like a real estate convention than a fight for our future. Until tonight.
Hillary had a lot at stake, obviously. If she didn't rise above the rancor, whether exaggerated or not, between her camp and Obama's, she and her husband could be viewed as scapegoats. She had to not just be as big as the moment, but bigger. She had to be transcendent, and for my money, she was. She finally elevated this convention to what it should be, a crucible. With grace, dignity, humor and the passion that's been lacking so far, she basically told her supporters and the country that this isn't about her anymore and it isn't about the psychology of what she represents, it's about our future. And where our future is concerned, there can be no equivocation: Barack Obama is the only choice.
Basically, she said she wanted no part of not supporting Obama out of regret or spite or some sense that her moment had been stolen. She made it clear that this is still her moment and she's going honor it by supporting Obama and she expects us all to do the same. And, well, she said, get over it, people. That you'd be doing her and her ideals a disservice by anything less than supporting Obama. As my friend, Arty Nelson put it, Hillary isn't going to play therapist for the wounded psyche's of her supporters anymore, she's going to get busy trying to secure a better future and she expects us all to do the same.
I thought it was a remarkable, generous, transcendent speech by someone who knows who she is and is secure with it. I sat watching it with my sister and we both choked up a couple times. It wasn't just about her message of unity and support, but also about her journey through this process and how a person can rise above the demons of ego and be bigger than self interest and resentment and need. It was an example of selflessness and service to a greater cause that was truly inspiring. By rising to a moment that was bigger than her, she became even bigger herself.
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Well done, Hillary. Now, Mr. Obama, it's up to you.