Obama At The 2004 DNC: Do you Remember?

In light of the past few months, I thought I’d take a few minutes to once again, watch Barack Obama’s transformational speech from the 2004 Democratic National Convention and I am struck by three things: 1) At the time of the speech (July 28, 2004) there were “only” 900 dead American service men and women in Iraq while today, 1/23/2009, there are 4,229, according to icasualties.org. 2) My god, can you imagine what the past four years would have been like had the Kerry/Edwards ticket actually won? and 3) I suppose it’s possible that then state senator Barack Obama didn’t have his eyes on the prize, but David Axelrod and other certainly did. This was the mother of all coming out speeches.
I remember watching it back then and being blown away. I was not following politics as closely as I am now and admit to not really knowing him as a rising star in the Democratic Party before the speech, but after? There was no doubt that there was a bright future for Sen. Obama.
I will also admit that until late summer, 2008, I had relatively little hope for the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. My experience as a political junkie and the political and racial history of the United States made his election, to me, an incredibly unlikely thing. Up until the Democratic National Convention in Denver, I had a hard time allowing myself to believe that he could be the nation’s first black president but, turning the phrase on its head, the “perfect storm” made it possible and maybe, just maybe, I under-estimated the open mindedness of the American people.
I say “maybe” because let’s face it, the combination of George W. Bush’s “achievements” and Senator McCain’s choice of Palin to crown an awful campaign cleared the way, at least a little, for the victory that so many of us celebrated with gusto on November 4th and again on January 20th. I say “maybe” because I am not yet convinced we are in a true “post-racial America” (whatever that really means) but I am genuinely ecstatic about the result.
And as for the rest? It’s up to the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama to show us what he’s made of and it’s up to us to do our part.

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