Some few of them call him Just an orator. Indeed. As I turned over in my mind a list of other orators such as Julius Caesar, Cicero, Patrick Henry, Daniel Webster, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, I struggled to recall whether just was also attached to them. I could not come up with any instances.
So I am compelled to conclude that the adjective just does not in fact fit with the noun orator, at least insofar as bonafide recognized orators go. Most it seems have been well known doers in their respective milieus. So for those who want to continue that phrase, I say, beware.
They say beware that Barack Obama is all talk and no substance. I say beware, because if last night is an indication, you have unleashed the dogs, and they and he are coming after you. And they will devour you.
I started out somewhere in the final convention night, midway in Gore’s speech. He did, as he is wont to do, a fine job, but to tell the truth I didn’t pay that much attention. The same could be said as I listened to another speaker here or there. My mind was restless, and somewhere else. I wanted to get to the main event.
I decided not to waste time with Fox or MSNBC and the silly, pedantic, and all to often self-serving one-up-man-ship that one is likely to find. I turned to C-Span and watched with no commentary at all. The cameras panned slowly around this huge stadium, filled to the rafters it seemed. Flags waved everywhere, from the top to the bottom. I am told that everywhere there was a sense of intimacy, though how that was possible is hard to explain.
I watched passively for a good long while. Then Joe Biden took the stage and introduced a series of about five average Americans. They spoke of their own private lives, and how they had been harmed by Bush/McCain policies. Some did splendidly, others were not so good, but they were authentic. No doubt a speechwriter or two, gave them a zinger to present, and all it seemed were eager to do their best for Team Obama.
While many might call it silly and smarmy, there was something to it nonetheless. There was a serious attempt on the part of the Obama team and also the DNC to really bring some sense of the average American into the realm of political action. These “little” people did just that, along with the tens of thousands who had offered service in exchange to be a part of this signally amazing moment in time. Can YOU imagine giving a speech, let alone one in front of 85,000 people? I bet not.
As I looked across the faces, among the delegates and the general public, I was struck by a dramatic thing. Gone were the stupid hats, glasses, and clothing. No vests full of badges and over-sized Texan hats. Just folks, like you and me, swaying, dancing, high fiving, but most of all smiling and laughing, hugging and grasping shoulders and kissing kids.
For all the world it looked like people who had been imprisoned for eight long years, finally coming into the light, free at last, free at last. Jubilation abounded. This was the finale, the end of a glorious week, one that had gone off without a hitch. One in which everyone who was supposed to, did their part and did it better than could be hoped for.
African Americans stood next to Latinos and Asians, and Greeks and Italians, and Koreans, and women and, Catholics, and Lutherans, and Methodists. All stood as one, here to celebrate returning to life again, after eight misery laden years of depression, war, and being beaten down by a government that thumbed it noses at people and raked in the dough by bucket fulls as others went hungry, and grew more ill, and became homeless.
Finally he arrived on stage. And the applause, and the screams of happiness were there. But in truth, they did not last as long as one would have expected. No, the people were too hungry for his words to delay too long. Hungry to be upheld and ready to be carried aloft. Ready to be made to feel that they COULD make a difference, this time. Ready to believe that all was not lost. Ready, so ready.
Sure, he took his shots at John S. McCain, and he measured the man well, and took direct and careful aim. If the Maverick has voted over 90% of the time with Bush, what does that say about HIS judgment? Does anyone seriously believe that George W. Bush has been right 90% of the time? Do we want to take a 10% chance on change?
Did John McCain seriously want to discuss whether Barack Obama was ready to be commander in chief? Yes, we are ready to discuss both YOUR TEMPERAMENT AND JUDGEMENT to be commander as well.
If John McCain says he will “follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell,” then why does he support policies that “won’t follow him to the cave where he lives.”
But Barack had much more than that to say to US. “We are a better country than this!” he shouted. “We are more compassionate than this.” It is time to make them “stand up and own their failures,” he claimed. “Now is the time,” to make America again, the “last best hope for peace.”
He chastised how this campaign by McCain was being run. “We are all patriots, we all put our country first.” This was a “big election” wherein the Republicans were making it about “small things.” When you have “no fresh ideas” you resort, he claimed to “stale tactics.”
“Something is stirring” he said. It’s is time we moved to a common purpose. What McCain and the Republicans cannot get, it seems, is that Obama is not taken with himself. What John can’t get, he said, was that, “It’s never been about me–It’s about YOU.” They can’t get that, and perhaps they never will.
We cannot turn back Obama tells us. We cannot stop now. If we don’t do it now, it may forever be too late. This is our moment, this is our time. We CAN DO THIS. YES WE CAN.
Barack Obama has made us believe in ourselves again. That in truth is what a great orator does. He does not speak for his own glory, that is a byproduct of, and often comes long afterward. He speaks to rouse the audience to believe in themselves. For Barack Obama cannot do a damn thing on his own. He is wise enough to understand this. He can only be the voice in the wilderness calling us to repentance and service and action. The God within each of us is to whom he speaks. The God within us aches to act. Will we give God that opportunity to answer the clarion call?
If not now, when?