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What did you think of Obama’s speech?
My initial reaction is that the best line of the night did not belong to Obama. It belonged to Barney Smith, a manufacturing worker from Marion, Ind., whose job was shipped overseas. He said he planned to vote for Obama although he has been a “loyal Republican” before now. He told the audience, “America can’t stand more of the same. I need a president who will put Barney Smith ahead of Smith Barney.”
(Expect to see that line on a T-shirt or bumper sticker before the week is through. To see this great moment, click here.)
As for Obama’s address, the emotion and impact of his open-air address to 70,000 people was somewhat lost on television. But his speech was at times stirring, in parts wonky, in part too long, but, in the end, historic.
In my opinion, here were the two best parts of the address:
“I get it,” he said. “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 of Washington.
“But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the naysayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me. It’s been about you.
. . . 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.”
And then there was his strong finish in which he referred to MLK’s speech:

“And it is that promise that 45 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 his dream.
“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.”

It was a passionate finish. But who picked the music that was played afterward? What a downer moment. I think back to 2002 when Bill Clinton and Al Gore walked on stage to Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.Obama got a few minutes of Brooks & Dunn’s “Only in America” but then they switched to something that sounded like the sound track from “Schindler’s list.” What a downer. Did no one have a Springsteen tape?

– Paul Gullixson