A Chance to See One or Two Presidents
Obama is a spellbinding orator. He may be short on specifics, but he is long on hope and dreams. He paints a picture of a better world, where we all stop fighting with each other and work together for the common good. If it is not entirely clear how that world will look, or how we will get there, he leaves his audience with no doubt that we will. Yes, we can. This is change we can believe in, not change we can't believe in. I am not sure exactly what the difference is, but you cannot hear him and not believe this is a good man, a smart man, with solid values and a determination to do what is right. His future is a better place, and if we do not know precisely how he will take us there, we are convinced that surely he will. If leading means getting others to follow, this man is truly a leader. He reaches our hearts like no one since John Kennedy, and if JFK was perhaps not quite ready to be president from day one, those old enough to remember him revere how he made us a better people. Ask not... We long for someone who will remake us as a people the way Kennedy did.
At 8:00 the next morning, I went to hear Bill Clinton. There were no long lines, no intimidating security, no organized volunteers. He spoke at an open park, to a large walk-up crowd, though not nearly the size of Obama's. Every imaginable local official came to endorse his wife. Our local congressman, several state legislators, county officials, three city councilmen, even the local tax collector (who, naturally, was booed). We all just walked up to the flatbed truck where he stood to speak, and waited for him to arrive. No one told us where to stand or patted us down. True to his reputation for tardiness, Clinton arrived promptly 45 minutes late, even though this was his first stop. I felt sorry for those who would be waiting to see him at the end of the day.
Like Obama, Bill Clinton is a powerful speaker. He makes her case clearly and logically. He does not speak like Obama. Obama goes for the heart, Clinton the head. He lists her numerous accomplishments, focusing on what she has done for people like those in the audience. He hits on what he achieved – balanced budgets, peace, growing incomes at all income levels, international respect - all the time giving much of the credit to Hillary. He clearly resents Obama lumping his administration together with that of Bush as part of the old way of doing business, as if there were no difference. If he once strayed in the flesh, he is fiercely loyal to Hillary in the heart, and you come away with different feelings about both her and him after hearing his spirited defense. If he has not been able to capture your heart in the way Obama does, he at least makes you respect her years of work and accomplishments, rather than think of them as a badge of dishonor. If Obama is the conciliator, Clinton is the fighter. Who knows which would be more effective at bringing about change?
If you still have a primary ahead, get out and vote. Even more importantly, be sure to register and vote in the general election in November. There will be a clear choice, and your voice needs to be heard.