It should be no surprise that Barack Obama just delivered one of the most powerful election night addresses in recent American history. This is what he does. His core skill is the inspirational speech that makes Americans, particularly Baby Boomers, feel better about themselves and their country.
I don’t mean to ridicule this. Just four years ago, the campaign of another outsider-oriented anti-war Democrat, Howard Dean, was undone thanks to a ludicrous election night rant. The fact that Obama can get up in front of the nation’s t.v. cameras and speak with such clarity, power and conviction elevates his entire quest for the presidency. He possesses a rare political skill and made the most of it tonight.
Having said that, I found Chris Matthews gushing over Obama over-the-top and embarrassing. Matthews was fixated on a victory for African-American and spoke about tonight in historic terms. It was historic, to an extent. But there’s a long campaign ahead of us. And, I’d caution Matthews and others from going too far. Those of us in Massachusetts have witnessed the limits of a chief executive whose chief strength is inspiring speeches.(Incidentally, did Mitt Romney make any speech at all tonight? If so, I missed it.)
I’m not yet sure how all this will play in New Hampshire. But remember those 207,000 new voters in the Granite State, I wrote about? I can’t but imagine them being anything other than extremely excited about what they saw tonight.
A final comment. I have to say that Obama’s backdrop, regular supporters, was far superior to that of Hillary Clinton, who was flanked by former Secretary of State Albright and President Clinton. And Obama gets points for his brief appearance with his wife, Michelle, and two kids. As skilled a speaker as he is — and that can do strange things to a man’s ego — on the surface, at least, he seems to have a very normal family life, a subtle contrast with Senator Clinton.