Bill didn't talk to a chair.
He talked to us.
He didn't talk to the seemingly ubiquitous "small business owners" who monopolized the attention of the GOP convention. (By tax code definition "small business" actually includes a lot of big, big businesses.)
He just talked to us Americans. As if we were all one people. As if we had some sense. As if the truth counts.
Ol' Bill not only gave the best speech anyone's ever made on behalf of Barack Obama but gave the best speech Clinton's ever made.
So what's left for Biden and Obama to say tonight? It seems like the bar has been set awfully high. But let's not worry. Contrary to all the media hype, Bill Clinton is not the only "great communicator of the era". I'm not sure when an era begins and ends, but we Democrats have had a plethora of great speakers in my time. The Republicans have had only one, the much-touted Ronald Reagan, and he stole a lot of his "moves" from Ike: the tilted head, the lifted shoulder, the lop-sided grin. Reagan was pretty good after a lifetime of performing, not just as an actor, but as a vociferous union-busting president of the Screen Actors Guild and a pitchman for General Electric, the company with the most labor law infractions in the history of the National Labor Relations Board.
Well, we'll give the GOP their Reagan and match our "great speakers" against the GOP any time. Ours is quite a list. FDR, JFK, Bobby, Teddy, Shirley Chisolm, Jesse Jackson, Mario Cuomo, Cesar Chavez, Julian Bond. And there's others. By contrast, the GOP have had nobody except Reagan because the GOP has no passion for anything but money. A good speech comes from passion about people but not from passion about money. Money is only paper and corporations are NOT people.
Forgive an old woman a sentimental moment. (A good Democratic Convention stirs memories of the golden lads and lasses now gone to dust.) I've heard most of our great Democratic speakers. FDR's fireside chats on the radio when I was a little girl. Then in 1960 sitting in the LA Coliseum, holding my three-month-old baby girl and hearing JFK accept his nomination. Bobby on tv addressing a Detroit crowd of African-Americans on the night of King's assassination. Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech live on tv as he gave it. Shirley Chisolm getting 152 votes at the '72 convention as the first woman and the first black to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Cesar Chavez at 7 a.m. in a parking lot talking in sweet, gentle Spanish to farm workers headed out to the fields. Teddy, my dear old Teddy, giving "The Dream Will Never Die" speech at the '80 convention and calling us his "golden friends". We cheered for forty-five minutes afterwards, still a convention record.
They are all gone now. They had spoken to the best in us. And I loved them and I missed them. Then - after the better part of forty years in the desert - there was Barack Obama in 2008. Like those who were gone, he spoke to the angels in our natures. I'm very grateful I lived long enough to hear the clarion call raised again of hope and compassion.
No matter how well Barack Obama does tonight, in his 2008 speeches he gave us all that we really need from that time forward. He brought us the sweet reassurance that, over the last seventy-six years, the voices have not died and the dream indeed lives on. And by the way we stood up when he called us. we know the dream will always be in us, waiting for the call. And in our children. And in their children. That will be their inheritance.
The greedy GOP leave their children only money. We leave ours the poetry and passion of life and the voices of our singers of the song.