- It's important to stress that it doesn't matter if Obama "fell short" of the emotional level of his wife's speech, or the crowd-command of Bill Clinton's. The rank-the-speakers derby had an entirely different edge for the Democrats than for the Republicans. Bill Clinton is no doubt savoring every story saying that his speech was the highlight of the convention. But for Obama, all that matters is that Clinton is now doing his best to pull the nominee across the line. (Think how history would be different if Al Gore had asked Clinton to do this 12 years ago.) At the RNC, by contrast, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio were "helping" Romney -- sort of. To spell it out: they're better off if he loses this year.- In retrospect, the most dramatic tonal moment of the speech may have been this brief passage near the end. Obama was indirectly addressing the difference between the Hope-and-Change aura of 2008, and the Doing-Our-Best-and-Hoping-for-Better realities now. But with the final three words, he made several points at once:
I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention. The times have changed, and so have I. I'm no longer just a candidate. I'm the President.
To me, that final sentence came across not as boasting or preening. Instead it had a startling spare, understated drama. Obama used it as the transition to a line about the burden of wartime leadership. ("That means I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, for I have held in my arms the mothers and fathers of those who didn't return.") But I heard it as also conveying, Let's get serious here. I'm the President, so I know how hard these trade-offs are. I'm the President, so there are some things I won't joke about. But also: for all of you who think I'm a Muslim, an alien, a socialist, a fraud, here's a reminder. I'm the President. ...The Atlantic
That comes from James Fallows who reminds us what the word "respect" means. Respect for the president and gratitude that he retains a mature self-respect even in the face of four years of vicious sniping.
The question for some of us becomes how much self-respect to do we have? Or did self-respect leave us when the addiction to self-righteousness, fed by false gods, crowded it out?