The Second comign of Bobby
Barack Obama’s well choreographed spontaneous appearance at the Democratic National Convention tonight was a masterful bit of stagecraft, and it capped a day and night of moments that cast the Democrats of the party of today and the party of tomorrow. I actually watched the roll call, and was inspired when my senator, Hilary, stood up and called, as Willie Brown did in 1992, for the suspension of the rules. Bill’s speech went after President Bush while having the greatest living president say in unequivocal terms that Barack Obama was ready to be our next president. And Joe Biden finally went after John McCain, at one point accidentally calling him “George.” Pat Buchanan had complained that there hadn’t been enough red meat, that the democrats hadn’t attacked Bush and McCain hard enough in prime time. Up till that point the only high-profile person who had really laid into John McCain was John Kerry, and war hero or not, he doesn’t have a reputation as a fighter. Biden, whom the Republicans referred to yesterday as a “knife fighter” made a start of cutting him up, but we know the republicans and we know the axiom: you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. The fight will get bloodier, and Biden had better be ready. But tonight he got in some good shots. The other thing he did was bring working class North Eastern Catholic ethics and pugnacity to this fight. His story about his mother telling him to bloody a bully’s nose was to me the most important moment of his speech, because it said to me that John McCain had better watch out, because this guy is a fighter and he is a going to bloody John McCain’s nose.
But when Barack came out the house nearly came down. Barack is the rock star. But more than that, he is the second coming of Bobby. That was after all the point of Teddy Kennedy’s speech on Monday. Bobby Kennedy was, in many ways, even more of a martyr, more of a tragic figure than his brothers. The other day a man came into the shop and saw a picture of Bobby on the wall and burst into tears. People feel Bobby’s death still, more than they feel John’s. I think it’s because his death felt like piling tragedy upon tragedy, and also because it came in his moment of triumph, but mostly it’s because he, like Barack is, was a candidate of an angry and hopeful mostly young constituency, and his death deflated their hopes. Barack is the second coming of Bobby. He is the hope of this generation, and like Bobby his charisma, his ability to inspire, his story, are carrying people to new heights of hope.
PS. I think the Republicans will indeed leak their VP pick on Thursday to steal some of the news cycle from Obama. But Hurricane Gustav will steal their thunder in more ways than one.