Thursday, June 05, 2008

Obama’s Pre-Nomination Speech

It was not exactly a nomination acceptance speech, because Sen. Barack Obama has yet to be formally nominated by his party for president. That will occur at the Democrat nominating convention in Denver, Colorado from August 25-28.

But the almost certain Democrat candidate for president did say, “Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States,” so evidently something had been decided; a Rubicon had been crossed.

Obama now has the number of delegates necessary to assure his nomination at the convention. Very likely, he had been preparing this speech – What to call it? Will the “pre-nomination speech” do? – for a long while. As early as the tail end of March, Sen. Chris Dodd thought the Obama juggernaut was irresistible.

The super delegates pushed Obama into the winner’s circle, which is to say that this election was determined by the guys and gals in the formerly “smoke filled back room.”

The Democrat presidential nomination was almost – So sorry Hillary – determined by the vox populi, but the “super delegates,” muscled by the leaders of the Democrat Party, were determined to see to it that a vote for their nominee for president should not go to a second ballot at the convention. On a second ballot, all the delegates would be released from their obligations and the nominee would have been chosen by the appointed representatives of the people in primary states who voted for the candidates. In effect, this would have made all the delegates super delegate and so diluted the back room vote as to render it impotent. The leaders of the Democrat Party were determined from the first that the power to choose the nominee for president should not escape their grasp. The “problem” created by a rule that disenfranchised the Florida and Michigan convention delegates could have been settled by seating all the delegates from these two states un-pledged, but this solution proposed by a Yuma Sun columnist would have deprived the leaders of the party of their decision making power.

As in all his speeches, Obama here was ringing loudly the bells of change: “Sixteen months have passed since we first stood together on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Thousands of miles have been traveled. Millions of voices have been heard. And because of what you said – because you decided that change must come to Washington; because you believed that this year must be different than all the rest; because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another – a journey that will bring a new and better day to America.”

Faith and courage, linked to frail human beings, stops the ears and wears a blindfold, and Obama’s most ardent supporters are nothing if not courageous. Change necessarily involves consequences – sometimes unintended consequences -- and change does not always point in a forward direction; a reversal of forward motion backwards is also change. As paradoxical as it may seem, one may go forward to the past: That is what a reversal of fortune means.

There are some who would argue that the reversal of fortune Obama plans in the Middle East will return us to pre-surge days in both Iraq and Afghanistan. As Obama approaches the general election, his references to ending the war in Iraq have become more carefully modulated; he now speaks of retreating from Iraq with great care. The non-negotiable demand that the troops be withdrawn after a specific time-line has been reached does not appear in this speech.

But, of course, Obama’s pre-nomination victory speech can only contain the bare bones of a campaign against his likely Republican opponent, McCain. The devil, as always, lies in the flesh he will put on the bones.

But, of course, Obama’s pre-nomination victory speech can only contain the bare bones of a campaign against his likely Republican opponent, McCain. The devil, as always, lies in the flesh.

In the meantime, according to a breathless media, Obama has shucked off at least one demon. The press is abuzz this morning that Hillary Clinton is preparing to throw in the towel, perhaps on Saturday. If he adds Hillary to the ticket as Vice President, that will be the second worst mistake of Obama’s career, the first being his choice of a church.
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