REPORTING FROM CHARLOTTE – For a man who ran four years ago on a platform of hope and change, President Obama had a huge challenge in addressing not so much an adoring Democratic National Convention, but a nation that continues to feel some skittishness about his leadership.
Obama, in a sober, masterful speech, firmly addressed the concerns of even his most cynical critics. It was the speech of a mature, seasoned president who articulated a vision of where he yet wants to take the country. For those on the fence about another four years of an Obama presidency, he offered a roadmap that should inspire confidence.
It offered a clear-headed, well-articulated presentation of his values and vision. The media will undoubtedly cast the speech as a plea to Americans for patience in their desire to see a more robust economy. But that is selling short the message the president conveyed.
It was a speech by a man who has matured in his presidency, a president with even more depth to his sense of how to reduce the struggles of so many Americans. What’s more, on display was a president more confident about what is required of American leadership on an international stage.
“I'm no longer just a candidate. I'm the president,” he said, in one of the most memorable passages of his speech. “I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, for I have held in my arms the mothers and fathers of those who didn't return. I've shared the pain of families who've lost their homes, and the frustration of workers who've lost their jobs.”
Obama talked about an administration that is committed to the middle class as well as to those who have been on the margins of American economic life. He offered a refreshingly strong discussion of the importance of health care and how it can prevent the decimation of families’ economic and emotional lives.
He successfully cast the Republican Party as being controlled by the most callous of right-wing zealotry, fueled by a desire to lower taxes for the rich and to gut programs for the middle class and poor.
“I refuse to ask middle-class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire's tax cut,” Obama said. “I refuse to ask students to pay more for college, or kick children out of Head Start programs or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, elderly or disabled – all so those with the most can pay less.”
More than anything, the speech – and the convention itself – placed on display a president who clearly feels an unmistakable connection with average Americans, who feels an urgency to reduce their burdens and who possesses the determination to fight for those values.
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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)