I couldn’t watch the speech from the press box. It was a room with glassseparating us from the stadium’s frenzied noise and dozens of otherreporters, and the very core of both speech and the setting seemed to beabout not sitting at a remove. I went down to the floor, amidst thedancing delegates and crush of photographers and sat somewhere near thestage.
So what was it like? It’s a bit tricky to write about the moment whenthe first black presidential nominee in the 232-year history of theAmerican Republic accepts the nomination. What, really can you say thatdoesn’t pitch into cant? (four days of listening to convention speechesgives you a deathly allergy to cant)
But the moment he walked out to accept the nomination, when the crowdswelled and the people next to me began to cheer and some teared, thisthing called History felt real and living and somehow inhabiting thestadium and the podium and Obama himself.
Obama’s rhetorical genius is his ability to sink a well into thetroubled history of this strange flawed beautiful republic, and callforth a geyser of optimism in the American Project. It’s something thatno one else can do, and once again, at a moment of maximum pressure, hedelivered.
I want to collect my thoughts about the speech and the politics of it (afew lines of which I thought were terrible, a significant section ofwhich I thought was boilerplate).
I need a bit of distance from the whole enormity to write somethingsensible.
But I can safely say Ill go to my grave remembering the air and lightand sound of that stadium tonight. And feeling amidst the flags andblack and white and Asians and Latino people around me a deep, almostphysical sense of what the American promise is.