Three excellent speeches today on behalf of the Obama campaign: Ted Kennedy’s endorsement, Obama’s response to Kennedy, and Obama’s response to the STFU … sorry, that should be SOTU. (I get confused sometimes.)
Full texts at the jump (including Obama’s response to EMK). Links to the videos:
The striking thing about Kennedy’s speech was the way he rebutted, point by point, each of the Clinton attack lines:
* “He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in, without demonizing those who hold a different view. He is tough-minded, but he also has an uncommon capacity to appeal to ‘the better angels of our nature’.”
* “We know the true record of Barack Obama. There is the courage he showed when so many others were silent or simply went along. From the beginning, he opposed the war in Iraq. And let no one deny that truth.“
* “In Barack Obama, I see not just the audacity, but the possibility of hope for the America that is yet to be.”
* “What counts in our leadership is not the length of years in Washington, but the reach of our vision, the strength of our beliefs, and that rare quality of mind and spirit that can call forth the best in our country and our people.”
* “Let us reject the counsels of doubt and calculation. Let us remember that when Franklin Roosevelt envisioned Social Security, he didn’t decide—no, it was too ambitious, too big a dream, too hard. When John Kennedy thought of going to the moon, he didn’t say no, it was too far, maybe we couldn’t get there and shouldn’t even try.”
* “I know that he’s ready to be President on day one. And when he raises his hand on Inauguration Day, at that very moment, we will lift the spirits of our nation and begin to restore America’s standing in the world.”
* “There was another time, when another young candidate was running for President and challenging America to cross a New Frontier. He faced public criticism from the preceding Democratic President, who was widely respected in the party. Harry Truman said we needed ‘someone with greater experience’—and added: ‘May I urge you to be patient.’ And John Kennedy replied: ‘The world is changing. The old ways will not do…It is time for a new generation of leadership’.”
Obama’s response to Kennedy showed him at the top of his stump-speech game. His response to Bush ought to reassure anyone who suspected he might be reluctant to hit the Republicans hard:
Tonight, for the seventh long year, the American people heard a State of the Union that didn’t reflect the America we see, and didn’t address the challenges we face. But what it did do was give us an urgent reminder of why it’s so important to turn the page on the failed politics and policies of the past, and change the status quo in Washington so we can finally start making progress for ordinary Americans. Tonight’s State of the Union was full of the same empty rhetoric the American people have come to expect from this President.
Thank you, Caroline. Thank you for that wonderful introduction and for your courage and bold vision, for your insight and understanding, and for the power and reach of your words. Like you, we too “want a president who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again.” Thank you, Caroline. Your mother and father would be so proud today.
Thank you, Patrick, for your leadership in Congress and for being here to celebrate and support a leader who truly has the power to inspire and make America good again, “from sea to shining sea.”
Thank you, American University.
I feel change in the air.
Every time I’ve been asked over the past year who I would support in the Democratic Primary, my answer has always been the same: I’ll support the candidate who inspires me, who inspires all of us, who can lift our vision and summon our hopes and renew our belief that our country’s best days are still to come.
I’ve found that candidate. And it looks to me like you have too.
But first, let me say how much I respect the strength, the work and dedication of two other Democrats still in the race, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. They are my friends; they have been my colleagues in the Senate. John Edwards has been a powerful advocate for economic and social justice. And Hillary Clinton has been in the forefront on issues ranging from health care to the rights of women around the world. Whoever is our nominee will have my enthusiastic support.
Let there be no doubt: We are all committed to seeing a Democratic President in 2008.
But I believe there is one candidate who has extraordinary gifts of leadership and character, matched to the extraordinary demands of this moment in history.
He understands what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “fierce urgency of now.”
He will be a president who refuses to be trapped in the patterns of the past. He is a leader who sees the world clearly without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in, without demonizing those who hold a different view.
He is tough-minded, but he also has an uncommon capacity to appeal to “the better angels of our nature.”
I am proud to stand here today and offer my help, my voice, my energy and my commitment to make Barack Obama the next President of the United States.
Like most of the nation, I was moved four years ago as he told us a profound truth—that we are not, we must not be, just red states and blue states, but one United States. And since that time I have marveled at his grit and his grace as he traveled this country and inspired record turnouts of people of all ages, of all races, of all genders, of all parties and faiths to get “fired up” and “ready to go.”
I’ve seen him connect with people from every walk of life and with Senators on both sides of the aisle. With every person he meets, every crowd he inspires, and everyone he touches, he generates new hope that our greatest days as a nation are still ahead, and this generation of Americans, like others before us, can unite to meet our own rendezvous with destiny.
We know the true record of Barack Obama. There is the courage he showed when so many others were silent or simply went along. From the beginning, he opposed the war in Iraq.
And let no one deny that truth.
There is the great intelligence of someone who could have had a glittering career in corporate law, but chose instead to serve his community and then enter public life.
There is the tireless skill of a Senator who was there in the early mornings to help us hammer out a needed compromise on immigration reform— who always saw a way to protect both national security and the dignity of people who do not have a vote. For them, he was a voice for justice.
And there is the clear effectiveness of Barack Obama in fashioning legislation to put high quality teachers in our classrooms—and in pushing and prodding the Senate to pass the most far-reaching ethics reform in its history.
Now, with Barack Obama, there is a new national leader who has given America a different kind of campaign—a campaign not just about himself, but about all of us. A campaign about the country we will become, if we can rise above the old politics that parses us into separate groups and puts us at odds with one another.
I remember another such time, in the 1960s, when I came to the Senate at the age of 30. We had a new president who inspired the nation, especially the young, to seek a new frontier. Those inspired young people marched, sat in at lunch counters, protested the war in Vietnam and served honorably in that war even when they opposed it.
They realized that when they asked what they could do for their country, they could change the world.
It was the young who led the first Earth Day and issued a clarion call to protect the environment; the young who enlisted in the cause of civil rights and equality for women; the young who joined the Peace Corps and showed the world the hopeful face of America.
At the fifth anniversary celebration of the Peace Corps, I asked one of those young Americans why they had volunteered.
And I will never forget the answer: “It was the first time someone asked me to do something for my country.”
This is another such time.
I sense the same kind of yearning today, the same kind of hunger to move on and move America forward. I see it not just in young people, but in all our people.
And in Barack Obama, I see not just the audacity, but the possibility of hope for the America that is yet to be.
What counts in our leadership is not the length of years in Washington, but the reach of our vision, the strength of our beliefs, and that rare quality of mind and spirit that can call forth the best in our country and our people.
With Barack Obama, we will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion.
With Barack Obama, we will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, and straight against gay.
With Barack Obama, we will close the door on the old economics that has written off the poor and left the middle class poorer and less secure.
He offers a strategy for prosperity—so that America will once again lead the world in better standards of life.
With Barack Obama, we will break the old gridlock and finally make health care what it should be in America—a fundamental right for all, not just an expensive privilege for the few.
We will make the United States the great leader and not the great roadblock in the fateful fight against global warming.
And with Barack Obama, we will end a war in Iraq that he has always stood against, that has cost us the lives of thousands of our sons and daughters, and that America never should have fought.
I have seen him in the Senate. He will keep us strong and defend the nation against real threats of terrorism and proliferation.
So let us reject the counsels of doubt and calculation.
Let us remember that when Franklin Roosevelt envisioned Social Security, he didn’t decide—no, it was too ambitious, too big a dream, too hard.
When John Kennedy thought of going to the moon, he didn’t say no, it was too far, maybe we couldn’t get there and shouldn’t even try.
I am convinced we can reach our goals only if we are “not petty when our cause is so great”– only if we find a way past the stale ideas and stalemate of our times — only if we replace the politics of fear with the politics of hope — and only if we have the courage to choose change.
Barack Obama is the one person running for President who can bring us that change.
Barack Obama is the one person running for President who can be that change.
I love this country. I believe in the bright light of hope and possibility. I always have, even in the darkest hours. I know what America can achieve. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it—and with Barack Obama, we can do it again.
I know that he’s ready to be President on day one. And when he raises his hand on Inauguration Day, at that very moment, we will lift the spirits of our nation and begin to restore America’s standing in the world.
There was another time, when another young candidate was running for President and challenging America to cross a New Frontier. He faced public criticism from the preceding Democratic President, who was widely respected in the party. Harry Truman said we needed “someone with greater experience”—and added: “May I urge you to be patient.” And John Kennedy replied: “The world is changing. The old ways will not do…It is time for a new generation of leadership.”
So it is with Barack Obama. He has lit a spark of hope amid the fierce urgency of now.
I believe that a wave of change is moving across America. If we do not turn aside, if we dare to set our course for the shores of hope, we together will go beyond the divisions of the past and find our place to build the America of the future.
My friends, I ask you to join in this historic journey — to have the courage to choose change.
It is time again for a new generation of leadership.
It is time now for Barack Obama.
Obama response to EMK
Thank you Congressman Kennedy and Caroline and Senator Kennedy for your words, your support, and the service you’ve rendered to this country.
I stand here today with a great deal of humility. I know what your support means. I know the cherished place the Kennedy family holds in the hearts of the American people. And that is as it should be. Because the Kennedy family, more than any other, has always stood for what’s best about the Democratic Party, and about America. That each of us can make a difference and all of us ought to try. That no frontier is beyond our reach when we’re united, and not divided. And that those of us who are not content to settle for the world as it is, can remake the world as it should be — that together, we “can seek a newer world.”
No one embodies this proud legacy more than the people we’ve just heard from. For a woman who was introduced to America in the spotlight, Caroline has worked out of public view to bring about change in our communities. Whether it’s her work with New York City’s public schools or the Profile in Courage Award or through books on politics, civil rights and history, Caroline has been a quiet force for change in this country. And it’s an honor to have her support.
It’s also an honor to have Congressman Kennedy’s support. He’s been a real leader in the fight to make sure every American has equal access to the quality mental health care they need. It’s one of the great civil rights issues of our time, and it’s an issue I’m proud to have worked on with him. He’s not just part of the next generation of Kennedy leaders, he’s part of the next generation of Democratic and American leaders, and I look forward to fighting by his side in the months and years to come.
And it is a special honor and privilege to have the support of the Congressman’s father, Senator Kennedy. In the year I was born, President Kennedy let out word that the torch had been passed to a new generation of Americans. He was right. It had. It was passed to his youngest brother.
From the battles of the 1960s to the battles of today, he has carried that torch, lighting the way for all who share his American ideals.
It’s a torch he’s carried as a champion for working Americans, a fierce proponent of universal health care, and a tireless advocate for giving every child in this country a quality education.
It’s a torch he’s carried as the lion of the Senate, a man whose mastery of the issues and command of the levers of government — whose determined leadership and deft political skills — are matched only by his ability to tell a good story.
Ted Kennedy stands apart from the prevailing wisdom in Washington that has reduced politics to a game of tactics and transactions, in which no principle is beyond sacrifice. And his public life is a testimony to what can be achieved when you focus on lifting our country up, rather than tearing political opponents down.
Few public servants in our nation’s history have had such a profound influence on the course of our nation. Few leaders in this country have more experience in how to bring about real change. And few have better judgment about where we’re headed as a party and a people.
Today isn’t just about politics for me. It’s personal. I was too young to remember John Kennedy and I was just a child when Robert Kennedy ran for President. But in the stories I heard growing up, I saw how my grandparents and mother spoke about them, and about that period in our nation’s life — as a time of great hope and achievement. And I think my own sense of what’s possible in this country comes in part from what they said America was like in the days of John and Robert Kennedy.
I believe that’s true for millions of Americans. I’ve seen it in offices in this city where portraits of John and Robert hang on office walls or collections of their speeches sit on bookshelves. And I’ve seen it in my travels all across this country. Because no matter where I go, or who I talk to, one thing I can say for certain is that the dream has never died.
The dream lives on in the older folks I meet who remember what America once was, and know what America can be once again. It lives on in the young people who’ve only seen John or Robert Kennedy on TV, but are ready to answer their call.
It lives on in those Americans who refuse to be deterred by the scale of the challenges we face, who know, as President Kennedy said at this university, that “no problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.”
And it lives on in those Americans — young and old, rich and poor, black and white, Latino and Asian — who are tired of a politics that divides us and want to recapture the sense of common purpose that we had when John Kennedy was President.
That is the dream we hold in our hearts. That is the kind of leadership we need in this country. And that is the kind of leadership I intend to offer as President.
So make no mistake: the choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white. It’s about the past versus the future.
It’s about whether we’re going to seize this moment to write the next great American story. So someday we can tell our children that this was the time when we healed our nation. This was the time when we repaired our world. And this was the time when we renewed the America that has led generations of weary travelers from all over the world to find opportunity, and liberty, and hope on our doorstep.
One of these travelers was my father. I barely knew him, but when, after his death, I finally took my first trip to his tiny village in Kenya and asked my grandmother if there was anything left from him, she opened a trunk and took out a stack of letters, which she handed to me.
There were more than thirty of them, all handwritten by my father, all addressed to colleges and universities across America, all filled with the hope of a young man who dreamed of more for his life. And his prayer was answered when he was brought over to study in this country.
But what I learned much later is that part of what made it possible for him to come here was an effort by the young Senator from Massachusetts at the time, John F. Kennedy, and by a grant from the Kennedy Foundation to help Kenyan students pay for travel. So it is partly because of their generosity that my father came to this country, and because he did, I stand before you today — inspired by America’s past, filled with hope for America’s future, and determined to do my part in writing our next great chapter.
So I’m asking for your hands. I’m asking for your help. And I’m asking for your hearts. And if you will stand with me in the days to come – if you will stand for change so that our children have the same chance that somebody gave us; if you’ll stand to keep the American dream alive for those who still hunger for opportunity and thirst for justice; if you’re ready to stop settling for what the cynics tell you you must accept, and finally reach for what you know is possible, then we will win these primaries, we will win this election, we will change the course of history, and light a new torch for change in this country — and “the glow from that fire can truly light the world.”
Obama SOTU response
Tonight, for the seventh long year, the American people heard a State of the Union that didn’t reflect the America we see, and didn’t address the challenges we face. But what it did do was give us an urgent reminder of why it’s so important to turn the page on the failed politics and policies of the past, and change the status quo in Washington so we can finally start making progress for ordinary Americans.
Tonight’s State of the Union was full of the same empty rhetoric the American people have come to expect from this President. We heard President Bush say he’d do something to cut down on special interest earmarks, but we know these earmarks have skyrocketed under his administration.
We heard the President say he wants to make tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans permanent, when we know that at a time of war and economic hardship, the last thing we need is a permanent tax cut for Americans who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them. What we need is a middle class tax cut, and that’s exactly what I will provide as President.
We heard the President say he has a stimulus plan to boost our economy, but we know his plan leaves out seniors and fails to expand unemployment insurance, and we know it was George Bush’s Washington that let the banks and financial institutions run amok, and take our economy down this dangerous road. What we need to do now is put more money in the pockets of workers and seniors, and expand unemployment insurance for more people and more time. And I have a plan that to do just that.
And finally, tonight we heard President Bush say that the surge in Iraq is working, when we know that’s just not true. Yes, our valiant soldiers have helped reduce the violence. Five soldiers gave their lives today in this cause, and we mourn their loss and pray for their families.
But let there be no doubt — the Iraqi government has failed to seize the moment to reach the compromises necessary for an enduring peace. That was what we were told the surge was all about. So the only way we’re finally going to pressure the Iraqis to reconcile and take responsibility for their future is to immediately begin the responsible withdrawal of our combat brigades so that we can bring all of our combat troops home.
But another reason we need to begin this withdrawal immediately is because this war has not made us safer. I opposed this war from the start in part because I was concerned that it would take our eye off al Qaeda and distract us from finishing the job in Afghanistan. Sadly, that’s what happened. It’s time to heed our military commanders by increasing our commitment to Afghanistan, and it’s time to protect the American people by taking the fight to al Qaeda.
Tonight was President Bush’s last State of the Union, and I do not believe history will judge his administration kindly. But I also believe the failures of the last seven years stem not just from any single policy, but from a broken politics in Washington. A politics that says it’s ok to demonize your political opponents when we should be coming together to solve problems. A politics that puts Wall Street ahead of Main Street, ignoring the reality that our fates are intertwined; a politics that accepts lobbyists as part of the system in Washington, instead of recognizing how much they’re a part of the problem. And a politics of fear and ideology instead of hope and common sense.
I believe a new kind of politics is possible, and I believe it is necessary. Because the American people can’t afford another four years without health care, decent wages, or an end to this war. The woman who’s going to college and working the night shift to pay her sister’s medical bills can’t afford to wait. The Maytag workers who are now competing with their teenagers for $7 an hour jobs at Wall Mart can’t afford to wait. And the woman who told me she hasn’t been able to breathe since her nephew left for Iraq can’t afford to wait.
Each year, as we watch the State of the Union, we see half the chamber rise to applaud the President and half the chamber stay in their seats. We see half the country tune in to watch, but know that much of the country has stopped even listening. Imagine if next year was different. Imagine if next year, the entire nation had a president they could believe in. A president who rallied all Americans around a common purpose. That’s the kind of President we need in this country. And with your help in the coming days and weeks, that’s the kind of President I will be.