Obama eyes his­tory in cam­paign fi­nale

Kuwait Times - - ANALYSIS -

Barack Obama on Mon­day har­nessed his­tory and all of his vaunted or­a­tor­i­cal skill in a fi­nal cam­paign push to see Hil­lary Clin­ton elected the first woman pres­i­dent of the United States. Obama spent the day cam­paign­ing for his first sec­re­tary of state, jet­ting from Michi­gan to New Hamp­shire to Penn­syl­va­nia. But his last speech be­fore elec­tors cast their bal­lots to re­place him - be­fore tens of thou­sands of Democrats in Philadel­phia - in­deed felt like a rous­ing fi­nal farewell. “You gave me a chance” he told the di­verse crowd gath­ered on a chilly night in the City of Brotherly Love. “A skinny guy with a funny name. You bet on me,” he said, “I’ve al­ways had the bet­ter odds, be­cause I’ve al­ways bet on you.”

This was Clin­ton’s event, but it seemed tai­lor-made for the 44th pres­i­dent. Obama, crit­ics might say, has never found a prob­lem to which the an­swer is not a speech. But even his fiercest op­po­nents would ac­knowl­edge his rhetor­i­cal prow­ess and his writer’s sen­si­bil­ity for his­tory.

On Mon­day, he was speak­ing at the city’s In­de­pen­dence Mall, amidst a bank of flood­lit build­ings that al­most seemed to have been wheeled in as the­atri­cal props, were it not for the deep his­tory they rep­re­sented. Be­yond Obama’s podium, be­yond the il­lu­mi­nated sea of faces lay In­de­pen­dence Hall, where the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence and the US Con­sti­tu­tion were forged. Of all the sites with a claim to be the birth­place of Amer­i­can democ­racy - Province­town, Bos­ton, Lex­ing­ton or Con­cord - Philadel­phia’s voice per­haps rings loud­est.

The venue was made for that mes­sage. Democrats - Obama above all - have framed this elec­tion as an ex­is­ten­tial choice: Trump or the Repub­lic, the uni­fier or the out­lier. Against that back­drop, Obama did what he’s done so many times be­fore - he pre­sented the sweep of Amer­i­can democ­racy as cul­mi­nat­ing in a sin­gle place and a sin­gu­lar time. Eight years ago, that place was Grant Park in Chicago and that mo­ment was Obama’s own elec­tion as Amer­ica’s first black pres­i­dent. Then, Obama saw his cam­paign as a tourni­quet for the cyn­i­cism and racism that had poi­soned the blood­stream of US pol­i­tics. “If there is any­one out there who still doubts that Amer­ica is a place where all things are pos­si­ble, who still won­ders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still ques­tions the power of our democ­racy, tonight is your an­swer,” he told the emo­tional crowd in the Windy City. His vic­tory was painted as a log­i­cal next step, or as Obama might say para­phras­ing his hero Martin Luther King Jr - bend­ing the moral arc of the uni­verse a lit­tle closer to­ward jus­tice.

Now, on the eve of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Obama por­trayed elect­ing Clin­ton as Amer­ica’s first woman pres­i­dent as the next log­i­cal step. “In this place, where our Founders forged the doc­u­ments of free­dom, in this place where they gave us the tools to per­fect our union, if you share my faith, then I ask you to vote,” he said, ex­press­ing a faith in vot­ers that oth­ers may not see af­ter this in­glo­ri­ous cam­paign.

Obama ex­pressed typ­i­cal con­fi­dence in the out­come. “I’m bet­ting that to­mor­row, most moms and dads across Amer­ica won’t cast their vote for some­one who den­i­grates their daugh­ters,” Obama said.

“I’m bet­ting that to­mor­row, true con­ser­va­tives won’t cast their vote for some­body with no re­gard for the Con­sti­tu­tion,” he added. “I am bet­ting that AfricanAmer­i­cans will vote in big num­bers be­cause this jour­ney we’ve been on was never about the color of a pres­i­dent, but about the con­tent of his or her char­ac­ter. I am bet­ting that Amer­ica will re­ject a pol­i­tics of re­sent­ment and a pol­i­tics of blame, and choose a pol­i­tics that says that we are stronger to­gether. I am bet­ting that, to­mor­row, you will re­ject fear and choose hope.” Within hours, Amer­i­cans were to prove him right or wrong. — AFP

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