DECEMBER 27, 2007
I just had a chance to read over the "closing argument" speech Obama delivered in Des Moines this morning. With the caveat that I didn't actually hear him deliver it, it read more impressively than I expected based on those talking points I mentioned earlier.
The case against Hillary is especially interesting:
This has been our message since the beginning of this campaign. It was our message when we were down, and our message when we were up. And it must be catching on, because in these last few weeks, everyone is talking about change.
But you can’t at once argue that you’re the master of a broken system in Washington and offer yourself as the person to change it. You can’t fall in line behind the conventional thinking on issues as profound as war and offer yourself as the leader who is best prepared to chart a new and better course for America.
The truth is, you can have the right kind of experience and the wrong kind of experience. Mine is rooted in the real lives of real people and it will bring real results if we have the courage to change. I believe deeply in those words. But they are not mine. They were Bill Clinton’s in 1992, when Washington insiders questioned his readiness to lead.
Also, Obama has a subtle play on the line Hillary trotted out at the Des Moines Register debate a few weeks ago, in which she said, "Some people believe you get [change] by demanding it. Some people believe you get it by hoping for it. I believe you get it by working hard for change." Obama's rejoinder:
It’s change that won’t just come from more anger at Washington or turning up the heat on Republicans. There’s no shortage of anger and bluster and bitter partisanship out there. We don’t need more heat. We need more light.
Finally, notice how Obama frames the final week of the race as the last gasp of the old system trying to resist change, with Hillary as the covergirl for the old system:
They said we wouldn’t have a chance in this campaign unless we resorted to the same old negative attacks. But we resisted, even when we were written off, and ran a positive campaign that pointed out real differences and rejected the politics of slash and burn.
And now, in seven days, you have a chance once again to prove the cynics wrong. In seven days, what was improbable has the chance to beat what Washington said was inevitable. And that’s why in these last weeks, Washington is fighting back with everything it has -- with attack ads and insults; with distractions and dishonesty; with millions of dollars from outside groups and undisclosed donors to try and block our path.
In a nutshell, the message is: You've come all this way, Iowa. You're almost there. Don't lose your nerve now. It's a psychologically appealing pitch, if nothing else. And probably necessary in light of the subtle and vague sense among people in Iowa that Clinton is regaining her mojo.
Update: Here's the video of the speech: