Obama sees the change... in himself

2012-09-07 14:00
US President Barack Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention. (David Goldman, AP)

US President Barack Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention. (David Goldman, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


Obama's DNC speech

2012-09-07 08:15

US President Barack Obama gave a more down-to-earth follow-up to his 2008 "hope and change" message at the Democratic National Convention. Watch the full speech.WATCH

Washington - President Barack Obama stood before America on Thursday a changed man, no longer a vehement prophet of hope, but a symbol of the perils of change in a nation riven by polarised politics.

It is only eight years since Obama erupted into public life with an electrifying call for unity at the 2004 Democratic convention.

But with Americans exhausted by wars abroad and economic malaise at home it seems longer, and the strain of crisis leadership is flecked in the president's gray hair and the dimmed fury of his rhetoric.

In his pitch for a second term at this year's convention, Obama appeared to admit that his definition of change had narrowed. He introduced toughness in place of poetry, in a speech that did not soar or inspire like his rhetoric of old.

There were few of the cascading promises that marked Obama's convention appearance in 2008 and his address seemed less the work of a man who changed politics than of someone who himself was changed by politics.

"The first time I addressed this convention in 2004, I was a younger man; a Senate candidate from Illinois who spoke about hope - not blind optimism or wishful thinking, but hope in the face of difficulty," Obama said.

Soul searching

"Eight years later, that hope has been tested - by the cost of war, by one of the worst economic crises in history; and by political gridlock that's left us wondering whether it's still possible to tackle the challenges of our time."

Later, Obama was looking into his soul again.

"I recognise that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention. The times have changed - and so have I," he said, vocalising the burden placed on the man who occupies the Oval Office.

"I'm no longer just a candidate. I'm the President. I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, for I have held in my arms the mothers and fathers of those who didn't return.

"I've shared the pain of families who've lost their homes, and the frustration of workers who've lost their jobs."

Unusually, Obama admitted, perhaps prompted by the reality of approval ratings below 50% and his toss up bid for re-election, that he had got some things wrong.

Swipe at Romney

"While I'm proud of what we've achieved together, I'm far more mindful of my own failings," and remembered his hero Abraham Lincoln as saying: "I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go."

Obama also took a stinging swipe at his Republican foe Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan, in a way that the young orator from 2004, with his call for unity might have questioned.

"My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy, but from all that we've seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly."

Where once Obama inspired America, it seems that now, after nearly four years in power it is the president that needs new sources of hope.

"As I stand here tonight, I have never been more hopeful about America. Not because I think I have all the answers. Not because I'm naive about the magnitude of our challenges - I'm hopeful because of you," he told supporters.

If Obama beats Republican Mitt Romney in November and secures four more years in the White House, it will have little to do with his speech on Thursday.


Unusually, Obama did not deliver the best speech of his convention. In fact it was overshadowed both by the emotional testimony of his wife on Tuesday and ex-president Bill Clinton's masterly political tutorial the next day.

The consensus of many pundits and experts after the speech was underwhelming and probably did not change the trajectory of what is shaping up as a close election.

"I think it was a very good speech, but I don't think it was his best speech," said Costas Panagopoulos, an expert in campaigns and elections at Fordham University.

But Panagopoulos said that it was unlikely a wavering swing voter would have watched Obama's meditations on fighting for change and suddenly made up his mind.

"I don't think there was enough to drive anyone off the fence," Panagopoulos said, adding that the presidential debates between Obama and Romney next month would be crucial in deciding the result of the 6 November election.

Professor Leila Brammer, a specialist in political rhetoric at Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota, said Obama's speech was different, because his role has now changed.

"In 2004, Barack Obama spoke as a candidate. On Thursday night, he spoke as a statesman," Brammer said.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    michelle obama  |  barack obama  |  mitt romney  |  bill clinton  |  us  |  us elections 2012

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

The game of Heyneke’s life
Kriel braced for titanic Welsh clash
VIDEO: The Boks training at Pennyhill Park
O'Connell - Ireland's warrior king
Traffic Alerts

You may find it hard to focus on the mundane routines as the greener pastures seem so tempting. It is a good time to expand your...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.