Friday, August 29, 2008

The Great Conjuror

Sen. Obama and his team delivered a boffo finale in his acceptance speech to the Democratic Party Convention this evening. He is a master speaker, and the setting was a dramatic and spectacular staging that not only conveyed a sense of majesty, but demonstrated the surging tide of supporters he has energized and engaged. His cadence, timing, inflection and his emotive qualities in delivering the speech were impeccable, and will probably be viewed and studied over, and over again, by students of oratory in an attempt to perfect their own capabilities.

After thinking about the whole presentation of this evening's events in the stadium in Denver, I realized that something had been nagging at me during the entire time that I had been watching the show. I had a strong feeling a déjà vu. Something was eerily familiar about the event. I have seen pictures of other similar events; cheering massed crowds shouting in unison and waving banners; tears of joy and overwhelming solidarity with the ideas pronounced from the podium.

The pictures this evening's scene conjured up for me are from 70 years ago in Germany. Despite the fact that political rally's are in essence, well, political rally's, there is strong similarity in the massed people being emotionally carried away by a master conjurer's rhetoric alone, as opposed to his past deeds and specific plans. In this case it's the nebulous concept of "change", and the conjurer is Sen. Obama. He is a man who secured his win by assuming one posture, and then afterwards, donning another. As Hillary Clinton has phrased it, "one would have to suspend disbelief" in order to accept him as presented.

I believe that Charles Krauthammer got it right.

"Barack Obama is an immensely talented man whose talents have been largely devoted to crafting, and chronicling, his own life. Not things. Not ideas. Not institutions. But himself.

Nothing wrong or even terribly odd about that, except that he is laying claim to the job of crafting the coming history of the United States. A leap of such audacity is odd."

But not without precedence..........


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