Monday, January 28, 2008

Extraordinary Moments: Ted Kennedy Endorses Barack Obama

I just saw Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama at American University, followed by another powerful speech by Obama.

What an extraordinary pair of speeches. What extraordinary moments in American history.

Ted Kennedy did much more than offer platitudes. He presented specifics, such as the opposition of a previous Democratic President, Harry Truman, to JFK's candidacy in 1960 - and how Truman asked JFK to be "patient" and wait for another year to run for President. Ted Kennedy spoke of the hope that JFK stirred in the American people. A day never passes without my still feeling it. It's not a mirage or an unattainable ideal. It's real and can motivate America to do great things again. It's been waiting a long time. Ted Kennedy sees this power to elicit the best of America - our better angels - in Barack Obama.

And Obama gave one of his great speeches, too. Also composed of important specifics, personal and as well political. Obama noted that his father was able to come to the United States to study because of work by John F. Kennedy as a young Senator.

There is a connection between John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama that many have noticed. It's wit and style and the capacity to inspire. But more than that, it's the willingness to break out of the past, to ignore conventional wisdom, to appeal directly to the people rather than the pundits, and let the people decide.

That, it seems to me, is democracy at its best.
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