The Plank

Teddy At The Bat

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Ted Kennedy just finished speaking, in seriously impassioned fashion
to a sympathetic crowd at American. He spoke for only about 15 minutes, but
made more than one subtle reference to the “division” and “distortion” that
has perhaps prompted his endorsement. Key remarks (which may not match the
eventual transcript):

I feel change in the air. …I’ll support the candidate who
inspires me, who inspires all of us, who can lift our vision and summon our dreams
and renew our hopes that our country’s best days lie ahead. I found that
candidate. And I think you have too.

He then gave fair credit and due to “the hard work and
dedication” of Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, citing them as “my friends,”
and assuring the audience that “whoever is the nominee will have my enthusiastic
support, and will have yours too. Let there be no doubt that we are all committed
to having a Democratic president in 2008.”

He continued: “But I believe there is one candidate who possesses
extraordinary talents and character matched to the extraordinary demands of
today.”

In case we were wondering, it is Barack Hussein Obama.

He is a leader who refuses to be trapped in the patterns of
the past; he is a leader who sees the world clearly without being cynical. He is
a fighter who believes passionately in the causes he believes in without demonizing
those who hold a different view.

He has an uncommon capacity to appeal to the better
angels of our nature…. I am here to offer my help, offer my voice, offer my
energy, offer my commitment to make Barack Obama the next president.

The justification:

I was moved four years ago when he told us a truth, that we
must be not just red states and blue states but we must be [here the crowd
joined in] United States.
Since that time I have marveled at his grit and his grace as he went across the
country and inspired people of all races, all genders, all parties, all faiths…
I’ve seen him connect with people of all walks of life and on both sides of the
aisle.

The “movement” talk is well and good, and clearly put Obama’s
particular charms in perspective. But primarily, Kennedy was here to establish
Obama’s senatorial bona fides, and certainly did his duty. He spoke
convincingly about Obama’s  legislative
accomplishments (“He was there in the early hours to help us hammer out a compromise
on immigration reform”), and delivered a simple putdown of Clinton’s mantra that brought the house down:
“I know that he’s ready to be President on day one.” 

 

Kennedy also invoked his brother’s period conflict with a certain
former president who privileged experience over John Kennedy’s inspirational
mien. He cited Harry Truman, saying then, “We needed someone with greater experience,”
adding a gentle “I urge you to be patient.” Ted paraphrased JFK’s response in
closing: “The world is changing, the old ways will not do…And so it is with Barack
Obama. … My friends I ask you to join in this journey. To have the courage to
make change.”

 

All in all, it was a solid, controlled tactical effort from a speaker draped in
gravitas. I particularly enjoyed the “Obamer” that would occasionally escape in
Kennedy’s thick Boston
accent.

--Dayo Olopade

(Photo courtesy Getty Images) 

Update: Full text and video here

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