A Barack Star is Born
The New Democrat kissing the Old Democrat goodbye
This column isn't about politics, and aside from a few links and that review of Fahrenheit 9/11, I've refrained from talking about the subject. I don't want to become one of those pop culture icons (you know who they are) that thinks anybody cares who they're voting for, or turns off anybody who respectfully disagrees with their positions. But there are times when politics rises to the level of pop culture (yes, I hold pop culture holier than politics, and twice as important): Reagan, Clinton, Fahrenheit 9/11.
Last night, I and a few other PBS-watching wonks witnessed the future of the Democratic Party and, in my humble, uninformed and completely biased opinion, the future of the White House. Because, with any luck, in the year 2020 (foresight is a bitch), the President of the United States of America will be... Barack Obama.
It's been said by everyone who saw his speech on Tuesday night at the Democratic Convention, but I'll say it again: This man is a star. He came out of nowhere to outshine some pretty good speeches by heavy-hitters with more familiar last names like Gore, Carter, Kennedy, Reagan and even the last Democratic rock star (sorry Sen. Edwards, you may have some charisma, but you're just an American Junior compared to Bill Clinton).
I wasn't even paying attention to the filler they were airing between Kennedy and Reagan, but Mr. Obama demanded my attention. After hearing thirty seconds of his speech, I ran into the other room to see who this man was. He's that good. His orational skills and the content of his message gave me chills. I understood what it must have been like when people first heard John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr. speak back in the day.
Now, I must admit here, that I am a strong supporter (and sometimes, I've been forced to be a defender) of John Kerry. He was my first choice among all the primary candidates, long before the Scream heard 'round the world. I think that if you go to his website and look at his carefully thought out positions on every major issue, you can see that he is a man of substance who truly stands for what he, and I, believe in. However, even I can't call him a star (if this were American Idol or Last Comic Standing, I might phone in for Bush, but in a Presidential Election my criteria change a bit).
But Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton and Austin on Joe Schmo 2, appears to have the whole package. Within minutes, my mind flashed, as it often does on monumental occasions, to paraphrased moments and lines from two pop culture entities. The first, from the movie Primary Colors, when Adrian Lester's character is describing his first encounter with Jack Stanton, the roman a clef stand-in for Bill Clinton, to his girlfriend and says that this guy is the real deal.
The second paraphrased moment (fuzzy in my memory) comes from The West Wing flashback episode "In the Shaddow of Two Gunmen: Part I" (I believe), when the team is comming together and seeing Jed Bartlet for the first time, and somebody (or maybe several somebodies - guess I need to pick up the Second Season on DVD) expresses a sentiment similar to Adrian Lester's. The point is, this guy is the real deal. And for those of you who missed hearing his speech live, without the burden of hype or sound-biting, just know that in this rare instance, the hype is not hyperbole.
You can read his entire, moving speech by clicking here, but reading it can't do justice. But don't worry, you'll have plenty of opportunities to hear from him again over the next several decades.
Now back to more important issues - like Big Brother 5!!! Stay tuned.