Yesterday morning I was puttering around the home and decided to turn the TV on to see if there was any news. Okay, in fairness, to day the phrase “to see if there was any news” is somewhat meaningless since there tends to be banner headline news ever three hours, so “any news” is pretty much a given. But you get the point. And there was Barack Obama giving a speech, so I watched. And watched. And was enthralled – and heartbroken. Enthralled because the speech was eloquent and thoughtful and gracious and smart and nurturing and witty and detailed and wonderful and fully-embracing to all sides and self-critical. And heartbroken for the hate-filled emptiness that replaced it.
You probably have seen excerpts on television. And they’re terrific. My favorite line was “How hard can that be?? Saying that Nazis are bad.” A close second may have been his passage on making things better, that not getting everything you want is okay because "Better is good," because "Better is always worth fighting for." But the whole speech is deeply worth watching. It’s deeply comforting to the soul to hear such meaningful elegance. And it lasts an hour. But if you don’t want to watch the full thing, or don’t want to jump around through it, just watch the opening 3-1/2 minutes. (He comes on about the 5-minute mark.) It’s very simple and basic – it’s not even political at all. Just an opening greeting to the University of Illinois with some off-handed comments. But it’s so human and warm that the contrast to the replacement is so profound and explosive for it being so decent.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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