Topic: The Oratory of Barack Obama
Michael Waldman: Well in my job, right now, I’m nonpartisan, so whether Obama’s delivering it or not, I’ll leave to others or my private thoughts. Anybody running for president and anybody who serves as president has to do a variety of the same thing, which is to call up the very basic, traditional American ideals and use them to make an argument about our place in the world and about public policy. Certainly, Obama has done that a lot and very effectively in this campaign. He places his campaign in this context of American history and of American ideals and our quest to live up to the ideals in a way that all the greatest presidential speeches have done from Lincoln to Roosevelt to Reagan, and that’s what you’ve gotta do. And now John McCain is not as proficient a speaker from a prepared text. He has written books, and when he’s in a town meeting, he can talk the same way and make people really understand how the moment today meets the moments of where the country has been courageous in the past. For McCain, you know, the challenge is going to be to step up to it when he has to give a big, formal speech.