Obama's Denver speech and the future
of America Analysis and full transcipt
Article added on August 29, 2008 at 07:20 Swiss time
The 2008 Democratic Convention
reached it's height with Barack Obama's Denver speech. Since his appearance
at the 2004 Convention had put him on the political map, expectations were
In Berlin, Obama had given a flowery speech without a single memorable line.
In Denver, he had to come up with something better in order to improve his
situation in his
“John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of
the time”, Barack Obama
concluded that he was
“not ready to take a ten percent chance on change”.
A great line. But the Democratic candidate omitted that he had voted even more on
the party line than John McCain.
Obama's senate records show that he has voted more often with the Democratic
left than John McCain with the Republican right. John McCain has reached more
over the aisle and led bipartisan efforts on key issues such as torture and
campaign finance. Barack Obama, despite his populist campaign slogan of
“hope and change”, has no such record. In fact, the senator from Illinois
hasn't achieved anything notable in the senate. He spent more time preparing
his presidential bid than
“serving the American people”.
“The One” turns out to be a populist promising heaven, attacking the market and
opting for protectionism. He voted for more subsidies for American farmers.
John McCain resisted this populist reflex which brings neither hope nor
change neither to the US nor to the Third World about which Obama pretends
to care so much.
Many pointed out to the parallels with John F. Kennedy's presidential bid in
1960. JFK was a populist too who spoke in front of 80,000 fans at the
Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. He was carried by a clever
campaign with the help of a lot of money and camera's who showed him as a happy family man
while, in reality, he was a master of philandering. In addition, he got elected with the
help of the mob. I would not be so proud of being hailed as the new JFK. -
For the record, to all accounts, Obama's family seems to be intact and he
has no connections to the mob.
People also pointed out to Martin Luther King's “I have a dream” speech in
1963. Obama's nomination surely is a step forward in racial integration.
However, in between, George W. Bush appointed first Colin Powell and then
Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state. Bush the Torturer made a lot of
mistakes, but he surely was no racist and promoted racial integration, not
by trying to pander to African-Americans, but because Powell and Rice were
qualified for the job..
One of the men who comes to my mind when thinking of Barack Obama's presidential bid is
William Jennings Bryan, the populist of the late 19th and early 20th
century, who luckily was never elected president of the United States.
The Republican's are right with their attack line:
“one mile high and one inch deep”, referring to Denver's altitude, the
Mile-High-Stadium, and the depth of the Democrats rhetoric. It remains to be
seen how deep the Republicans will dig.
Let's be clear, John McCain has changed in the past eight years and has
partly damaged his “maverick”
image. Still, he will surely offer no third Bush term. He may be no ideal
choice, but he is the better candidate than Barack Obama who, in the 2008
Denver speech, let again slip in a disguised attack on the free market, the
best choice for America and for the world, not only for the world's economy.
Hopefully, John McCain will come up with a better choice for vice-president
than Barack Obama, who chose another left-wing politician like himself. Bill
Clinton made many errors, especially in the field of foreign policy, but he
was a centrist, something Barack Obama is not and has never been, despite
his flowery rhetoric and all his grandstanding.
The Republican candidate has the chance to make a difference with his VP
pick. McCain cannot chose Mitt Romney, a man who wanted to double Guantanamo.
If ever a man, he should pick Colin Powell (although he made the infamous
case-of-war presentation at the UN) or Michael Bloomberg.
Barack Obama has left one door wide open: the female vote. There is only one
possible VP pick for John McCain: a woman, be it Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman,
Condoleezza Rice (although too close to Bush, a brilliant
African-American) or, last but not least, Kay Bailey Hutchison, to name just
a few names.
God bless the United States of America, that is how Barack Obama finished
his speech. God bless the USA and the entire world would have been a better
phrase indicating change, but that is something no leading American
politician seems to understand.
God has nothing to do with American politics. As the son of a Muslim father
and educated as a Christian by his mother, Barack Obama should know better.
Instead of his campaign insisting on how Christian he is, he could have
pointed out to the fact that America - and incidentally, Europe too - is not
a Christian club.
Maybe, one day, America will elect a lesbian, disabled, unwed
African-American of Muslim faith. That will be the day America has no more prejudices
On August 29, 2008 in Denver, Barack Obama fully convinced a crowd of
followers under his spell. His political career so far however does not
point out to somebody in the mainstream of American politics who can reach
over the aisle and get things down. He is a man clearly rooted on the left
of his party who has not achieved anything of importance so far. If he
should get elected in November, let's hope he will change.
Whether Barack Obama or John McCain will be elected, we, the world, will
have to put up with a candidate who believes that God blessed America, and a
president who has no executive experience. In both cases however, the Free World will
remain free and backtrack from torture.
The only one offering a bold idea is John McCain with his League of Democracies.
Suddenly, a lot of people seem to be afraid of the concept of democracy
because McCain has picked up the idea from conservative thinkers. A League
of Democracies would “undermine”
the United Nations, critics say. But competition is good for business, also
when it comes to organizations. The UN has failed in
many fields because its majority is undemocratic and against free trade.
UN resolutions and sanctions have no or no positive impact. The Security Council is divided and the world's
leading powers can block anything they consider against their interests.
A League of Democracies would strengthen the Free World. That is a bold idea
that would bring change. If ever in the last decades the US has had
the chance to elect an independent thinker who is not a dangerous populist,
it is John McCain. He is not the chosen one either, but the better choice
than Barack Obama.
Full transcript of Barack Obama's Denver speech at the Democratic
Convention at Invesco Field of August 29, 2008 as prepared for delivery
To Chairman Dean and my great friend Dick Durbin; and
to all my fellow citizens of this great nation;
With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the
presidency of the United States.
Let me express my thanks to the historic slate of candidates who accompanied
me on this journey, and especially the one who traveled the farthest - a
champion for working Americans and an inspiration to my daughters and to
yours -- Hillary Rodham Clinton. To President Clinton, who last night made
the case for change as only he can make it; to Ted Kennedy, who embodies the
spirit of service; and to the next Vice President of the United States, Joe
Biden, I thank you. I am grateful to finish this journey with one of the
finest statesmen of our time, a man at ease with everyone from world leaders
to the conductors on the Amtrak train he still takes home every night.
To the love of my life, our next First Lady, Michelle Obama, and to Sasha
and Malia - I love you so much, and I'm so proud of all of you.
Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story - of the brief
union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who
weren't well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their
son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.
It is that promise that has always set this country apart - that through
hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but
still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next
generation can pursue their dreams as well.
That's why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two
years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and
women - students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors --
found the courage to keep it alive.
We meet at one of those defining moments - a moment when our nation is at
war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened
Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for
less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home
values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card
bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach.
These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to
respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed
policies of George W. Bush.
America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country
This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of
retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of
This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up
the equipment he's worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to
China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he
went home to tell his family the news.
We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our
streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a
major American city drowns before our eyes.
Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and
Independents across this great land - enough! This moment - this election -
is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive.
Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms
of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are
here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look
like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: "Eight is
Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the
uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him
our gratitude and respect. And next week, we'll also hear about those
occasions when he's broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver
the change that we need.
But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety
percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but
really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has
been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don't know about you, but
I'm not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.
The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your
lives - on health care and education and the economy - Senator McCain has
been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great
progress" under this President. He said that the fundamentals of the economy
are strong. And when one of his chief advisors - the man who wrote his
economic plan - was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said
that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've
become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."
A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant
who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and
working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on
the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder
their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third
or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and
give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I
Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the
lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define
middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year? How else
could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and
oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred
million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would
actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing
to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social
Security and gamble your retirement?
It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't
For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican
philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that
prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the
Ownership Society, but what it really means is - you're on your own. Out of
work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty?
Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps - even if you don't have boots.
You're on your own.
Well it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change
You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes
progress in this country.
We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the
mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each
month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We
measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill
Clinton was President - when the average American family saw its income go
up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.
We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we
have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good
idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who
lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her
job - an economy that honors the dignity of work.
The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are
living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great - a
promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.
Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and
Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched
in Patton's Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to
go to college on the GI Bill.
In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working
the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her
own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps
but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the
help of student loans and scholarships.
When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I
remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by
and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.
And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own
business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the
secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over
for promotions because she was a woman. She's the one who taught me about
hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for
herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had
into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching
tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.
I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead,
but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that
shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and
keep our promise alive as President of the United States.
What is that promise?
It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives
what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with
dignity and respect.
It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and
generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their
responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and
play by the rules of the road.
Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but
what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from
harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and
our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and
Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not
hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money
and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.
That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for
ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental
belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.
That's the promise we need to keep. That's the change we need right now. So
let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President.
Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but
the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.
Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship
jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good
jobs right here in America.
I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the
start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.
I will cut taxes - cut taxes - for 95% of all working families. Because in
an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the
And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet,
I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our
dependence on oil from the Middle East.
Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years,
and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he's
said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in
renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the
amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.
Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a
stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.
As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal
technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our
auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are
built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to
afford these new cars. And I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next
decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy - wind power and solar
power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to
new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be
America, now is not the time for small plans.
Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child
a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the
global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a
chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids
don't have that chance. I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll
recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them
more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more
accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American - if
you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you
can afford a college education.
Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health
care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower
your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage
that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my
mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer,
I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who
are sick and need care the most.
Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family
leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their
jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.
Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are
protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for
And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's
work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as
Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how
I'll pay for every dime - by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that
don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line
by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do
need work better and cost less - because we cannot meet twenty-first century
challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.
And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will
require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of
responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our
"intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy
independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and
businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for
young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit
that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off
the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more
responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.
Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility - that's the essence of
And just as we keep our keep our promise to the next generation here at
home, so must we keep America's promise abroad. If John McCain wants to have
a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next
Commander-in-Chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.
For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after
9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us
from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we could just "muddle
through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to
finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11,
and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if
we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin
Laden to the Gates of Hell - but he won't even go to the cave where he
And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has
been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush Administration, even
after we learned that Iraq has a $79 billion surplus while we're wallowing
in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a
That's not the judgment we need. That won't keep America safe. We need a
President who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the
ideas of the past.
You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in eighty countries by
occupying Iraq. You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking
tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've
strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush
with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice - but it is not
the change we need.
We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me
that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't
keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that
generations of Americans -- Democrats and Republicans - have built, and we
are here to restore that legacy.
As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I
will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred
commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and
benefits they deserve when they come home.
I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al
Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet
future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can
prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I
will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century:
terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change
and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once
again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom,
who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.
These are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward
to debating them with John McCain.
But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for
political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our
politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each
other's character and patriotism.
The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan
playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country,
and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our
battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they
have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same
proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have
served the United States of America.
So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.
America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough
choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the
worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost
these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade
deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose - our sense
of higher purpose. And that's what we have to restore.
We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number
of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be
different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence
in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while
keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences
on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian
brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital
and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I
don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant
child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers.
This too is part of America's promise - the promise of a democracy where we
can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common
I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim
that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in
our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment
of traditional values. And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have
any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you
don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone
people should run from.
You make a big election about small things.
And you know what - it's worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism
we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises
seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best
to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.
I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I
don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls
But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is
stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has
never been about me. It's been about you.
For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to
the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest
risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players
and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us - that
at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from
Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American
people demand it - because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new
leadership, a new politics for a new time.
America, this is one of those moments.
I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming. Because
I've seen it. Because I've lived it. I've seen it in Illinois, when we
provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare
to work. I've seen it in Washington, when we worked across party lines to
open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care
for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.
And I've seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the
first time, and in those who got involved again after a very long time. In
the Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a Democratic ballot, but
did. I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day
than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after
losing a limb, in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane
strikes and the floodwaters rise.
This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what
makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not
what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the
world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
Instead, it is that American spirit - that American promise - that pushes us
forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of
our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is
unseen, that better place around the bend.
That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my
daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours
- a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel
west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the
And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans
from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington,
before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of
The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They
could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to
succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.
But what the people heard instead - people of every creed and color, from
every walk of life - is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked.
That together, our dreams can be one.
"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make
the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."
America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so
many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an
economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many
families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back.
We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once
more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise - that American
promise - and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to
the hope that we confess.
Thank you, God Bless you, and God Bless the United States of America.