Which Barack Obama speech is the one for the history books?Breaking News
Few political careers and presidencies have been more defined by speeches than Barack Obama’s. His 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention vaulted him into the country’s consciousness. His 2008 speech on race saved his faltering presidential campaign. As president, Obama’s biggest and most consequential moments — his unfulfilled outreach to the Muslim world in Cairo, his Nobel Peace Prize address on the grim necessity of war in Oslo and his eulogy for nine slain parishioners in Charleston, S.C. — often have been speeches.
Obama’s best oratory is beautifully written, meticulously crafted and theatrically delivered. It is a record of our fears, flaws, shortcomings and accomplishments. “I don’t know of any president who has put that kind of work into his speeches,” says Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian. “He organizes his thinking by putting pencil to pad.”
In a few days, Obama will deliver one of his last big speeches as president. In a bit of clever stagecraft, he is scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on the 12th anniversary of his electric 2004 convention speech. The moment raises a question that cuts to the heart of Obama’s presidential legacy and our polarized politics: Which Obama address will still sound wise and inspiring when our bitter, partisan disputes have faded from memory?
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