Triumph, Bold and Clear

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For several weeks, there has been a tiresome, two-part drum beat, the sort of somber thumping one associates with a funeral procession or wake.

One droning beat came from the press. Can the Democrats unite? Will Hillary and Bill support Barack? Is there any hope that working-class whites or feminists will find a way to vote for Barack Obama? The second beat came from the Republicans. Obama can't be trusted to protect America. He's not ready to lead. He's merely a clever celebrity.


Well, the just-concluded Democratic National Convention has successfully drowned out those nonsensical beats.

News flash from Denver. Hillary and Bill Clinton delivered powerful, unambiguous and moving endorsements of Barack Obama. They did not mince words. They did not play games. There were no back doors left open and no cheap shots taken. They showed the professionalism, commitment and personal grace to act as warriors for the Democratic Party and for Obama.

News flash from Denver. Joe Biden is as solid a vice presidential contender we've ever seen. Intelligent, tough, seasoned and possessed of unrivaled foreign policy expertise. He was not chosen to deliver a big electoral vote state. He wasn't chosen to please some narrow constituency or interest group. He was chosen as an established party leader who can assume the presidency if events should require it.

Big news flash from Denver. Barack Obama hit a grand slam in his acceptance speech. From the beginning of the convention, across all the major networks, on cable news, in the blogosphere, we've heard about the long litany of things that Obama's speech simply MUST accomplish if he is to have any chance of getting out of Denver whole and with a fighting chance in November.


This speech will go into the annals of American political history as one of the great acceptance speeches of all time, and not merely because it was given by the first African-American standard bearer of one of the major political parties. No, the speech is historic for its remarkable job of delivering on three challenges Obama faced.

Obama had to flesh out a fuller picture of who he is as a person, as a man, as a human being. The Monday night speech from Michelle Obama took large strides in that direction. The full-throated endorsements from the Clintons took things further. The passion and authenticity of Joe Biden's testimonial added to the picture.


But the steady and inspiring presence of Barack Obama himself; his openness, poise, gravitas, genuineness, intelligence, honesty and clarity carried the day. America saw a son, a grandson, a man, a husband, a father, and, above all else, a president in waiting, in full measure.

Obama needed to connect with working and middle-class Americas. They needed to see in him someone who understands their concern and has a plan for improving their futures. They needed to understand that he really intends to fight on their behalf. The speech did all that and more.


And he needed to show the wisdom and grit of a commander in chief. He needed to clarify the faults of the last eight years and spell out why he would be a better commander in chief than a former POW named John McCain. Done.

To add to those three successes, Obama spelled out a number of domestic and foreign policy differences between himself and John McCain. He brought into even sharper relief his commitment to a new style of politics. And he called for all Americans to recognize the importance of this current moment in history and the challenges ahead.


A candidate, a team and a message came charging out of Mile High Stadium in Denver Thursday night. The drums of doubt have been replaced by the clear sound of triumphant horns. There is a long road ahead for Barack Obama. But for now, all the doubters and even the out-and-out haters, must stand in awe of the candidate's decisive rise.

Lawrence Bobo is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of Sociology and of African and African-American studies at Harvard University.

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