Nathaniel Liedl: Obama or Reagan?

Nathaniel Liedl

In one of the most anticipated speeches in modern history, Democratic presidential standard-bearer Barack Obama delivered his acceptance speech Thursday night — and perhaps his most substantial speech yet.

Following weeks of largely allowing Republican candidate John McCain a free ride in his attacks, the “O-Bomber” struck back, citing the erstwhile Maverick’s 90 percent voting support of the Bush administration. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a 10 percent chance on change.”

The Illinois senator also declared that America is “better than these last eight years” and vehemently defended the Dems’ ability to keep the country safe from foreign and domestic threats.

“We are the party of Roosevelt,” Obama said. “We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me Democrats won’t keep us safe.”

The counter offensive was Obama’s strongest to date, a marked departure from his past, oft criticized rhetoric of “change” and “hope.” But it’s the promise of a new brand of politics which has characterized Obama’s candidacy.

“More than anything else, I want my candidacy to unify our country, to renew the American spirit and sense of purpose. I want to carry our message to every American, regardless of party affiliation, who is a member of this community of shared values. ... For those who have abandoned hope, we’ll restore hope and we’ll welcome them into a great national crusade to make American great again.”

The preceding quote was Obama on Aug. 28 in Denver, right? Conservatives, beware. The above was proclaimed by Ronald Reagan on July 17, 1980, as he accepted his party’s nomination for president at the Republican National Convention in Detroit. Yup, the Gipper, folks.

Obama and Reagan could hardly be further apart politically, or ideologically, but both were strong, lofty orators, upbraided for their feel-good bromides. Words can inspire, uplift — and if you watched any of the Democratic convention — make people downright bawl their eyes out.

During the primary campaign, Hillary Clinton made a crucial error in underestimating the power of words, “It’s time we moved from good words to good works, from sound bites to sound solutions,” she said.

You’d think McCain would of learned as well, but the Arizona senator has vowed to expose Obama’s “eloquent but empty call for change.”

“To encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas that trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope it is a platitude,” McCain said earlier in the campaign season.

The style and approach of Obama is similar to Reagan, much to the chagrin and denial of  Republicans. In the same way Reagan led the country in a new direction, Obama “hopes” to do the same. And much like Reagan, Obama’s candidacy has emerged out a period where Americans have become appalled at the utter ineptitude of our government. Will that discontent lead Obama to victory?

Maybe all he needs is the support of Reagan Democrats.

Daily Independent