August 28th, 2008
11:38 PM ET
14 years ago

Gergen: A political masterpiece


Watch Obama says the country is better than what it has gotten the past four years.

I imagine that lots of you out there remain fierce critics of Barack Obama. Next week Republicans will legitimately debate and challenge many of his ideas, especially about his call for a more activist government. It will be fascinating now when John McCain and Obama meet in debates.

But for this moment and for this purpose, I saw Obama's speech tonight as a political masterpiece. As I had a chance to say on CNN a few moments ago, it was in many ways less a speech than a symphony. I also sensed that we saw tonight an Obama who is growing into a new, more mature leader - stronger, tougher, harder-hitting than he had appeared only a few weeks ago.

Watch: 'Our work won't be easy,' Obama says

Whether Obama will win this Novemember or not is still very unclear, but if he does, I imagine we may look back and say this was a major turning point.

Many of you, I know, will disagree. From all of you, I would welcome your thoughts - you, after all, are the voters who will actually decide the fate of the country.

soundoff (168 Responses)
  1. Val from MA

    I've decided not to watch Obama's speech intentionally. His ego is bigger than the stadium he is using. Sure, it is a historical moment in our country, but it doesn't have to be a theatrical show with Greek columns on the podium. What does Greek columns have to do with African-Americans and Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech? NOTHING!
    Forgive me, but it is just a show.

    August 28, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  2. Bryan Calkins

    David, I agree that it was a political masterpiece. No one has had this level of oratory since John Kennedy. No one has had this level of focus on the issues since Bill Clinton. Barack Obama is a synthesis of the two, and I predict that it will be a stunning and welcome revelation to all Americans.

    August 28, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  3. Selena

    Mr. Gergen,
    This night was miraculous! And a masterpiece. Mr. Obama has proved himself 100% that he is ready to be the next commander in chief. He is of the people, for the people and he made himself clear tonight of that message.

    I am proud to be an American tonight. My morale about my country has been renewed and I am ready again to do my part.

    McCain is toast!

    Obama/Biden '08

    August 28, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  4. James Parker

    Not to be "disagreeable" about your "looking back at this moment", but when in the last 26 years that Obama felt McCain should have used his seat of power for positive change did his running mate effectively change much as well? So the moment you look back on may be this speech or the next, but I strongly feel the look back should include those around us as well as oppose us. Did Clinton effectively use his 8 years to combat terrorism or break our addiction to oil? Did the Democrats use their monopoly of the 3 parts of government to do anything lasting? So yes, I disagree. This moment is being shaded by the euphoria of high altitude and poor memory.

    August 28, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  5. Zepata

    The fate of the country is not in the voters of this next election, nor in the hands of any President, but in the hands of GOD. So the voters should look at which candidate presents a case that puts Him first and not the country. The democrats policies are consistently against all that is good and morally acceptable to GOD. We should not tempt His hand.

    August 28, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  6. California Gold

    It is a reminder of the resilient American spirit. Our economy has been driven in the ditch, prices at the pump through the roof, homeowners staving off foreclosure, personal bankruptcies up more than 30% from last year, the Iraq war still has no exit strategy, and Congress in a stalmate. Yet, tens of thousands of Americans packed the arena to hear Obama's acceptance speech to embrace the promise of change and hope for a better tomorrow. It's the real deal. Obama has managed to touch the voters and, more importantly, the voters feel they can put their trust in him as leader. That may be why Obama wins.

    August 28, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  7. 4Obama

    David PLEASE be honest....John McCain was not graciously today....he acted silly all day talking about a VP pick and "collums"......just be honest man.

    August 28, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  8. FormerClinton4Obama

    It goes like this...
    Obama tonight proved to me that he's a "thinking mans" president and that people of this country will ALWAYS be job one for him. All the negative shots about him being all fluff are the same Rove style politics that broke the GOP and are going to be the reason that Obama wins this election. There is NO WAY McCain even comes close to what we just witnessed. The GOP was worried they would be overrun by Obama and his movement. They thought they had a shot. They just saw it go up in smoke among 85,000 people in ONE VOICE who screamed ENOUGH WE WANT OUR GOVERNMENT BACK!

    August 28, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  9. Spencer in Cali

    I wholeheartedly agree Mr. Gergen! This was a speech that left no doubt about where Obama comes from, his ability to lead, where he stands on policy and the american dream and where he will take this country. Weather you agree or disagree with his policies, this election should now be about exactly that.


    OBAMA 08!!

    August 28, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  10. Obama fan

    All you pumas out there are racist. That speech was the best speech EVER. We need change America. Wake up.

    August 28, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  11. Matt in Austin

    Wow!!! A historical speech that gave my wife and I goosebumps.

    We are Republicans voting for Obama!

    August 28, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  12. Heinz

    The one thing I can say , it was a night to remember. To me it was history!
    Glad to able to see what this great country can do. Believe in the people and willing to make a change!

    August 28, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  13. WE LOVE YOU HILL!!!!!

    It was beautiful!!! Hillary's was still the best of the convention but that speech was so right on!!!

    Go Hillary

    Go Barack

    Go Biden

    Go dems!!!!!

    August 28, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  14. mathew

    He called out to Mccain for a debate during summer too my friends and when Mccain took obama to his words we all know what happened. And today he called him out again. also he said GOP belives in ownership ideas but he and the dems think government need to take care of people. in other words welfare. well i think USA doent want to be the next Europe. or do we. Mccain is not Bush there was not a Bush Mccain Administration. Mccain will tell you what he really thinks and will do. not like "the one" who will say what ever is needed according to the polls. Obamas VP is a senator for 35 years is that change? he used the same words moving rational words to tell you how elections should be funded and how he stands for public financing and we all know how that turned out.. its all words you say to people who are desperate, to make them do what ever you want them to do. please Americans spend some time and think...

    August 28, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  15. Impressed Viewer

    I wasn't alive for many of the famous MLK, JFK, RFK, FDR speeches you see on the history channel. Tonight it was hard to fathom that I was actually watching this live. Early on I pulled my 8 year old off the computer to watch the speech and I actually told him; "listen. One day you may tell your own kids about this night."

    August 28, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  16. Jodi Inlow

    Obama hit it out of the ball park tonight. Inspirational would be putting it mildly. I, too, believe that we will look back on tonight as a turning point for not only this campaign, but more importantly for our country. I wish every American would have been required to watch Mr. Obama's speech tonight.

    Jodi Inlow

    August 28, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  17. Dave

    Anyone who watched this speech can not doubt who Obama is and what he stands for. He delivered tonight, in a beautiful combination of plain talk and stirring oration. The man is gifted and has what it takes to lead. If you don't inspire people, you can not lead. The opposition attacks him for his inspiration because they have none of their own.

    August 28, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  18. matthew st.louis, mo

    unequivocally, a very presidential speech in both substance and tone; simply convincing.

    August 28, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  19. Steve - southern Illinois

    Another slam dunk from Barack Obama!

    August 28, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  20. Scott in PA

    I couldn't agree more with the statement that this is a turning point. This is a turning point in America, American politics, and the American social system.

    Many will say Obama is a rock star. Great leaders motivate, inspire, and guide others through change. If you call that a rock star, then so be it.

    My children watched this momentous occasion. When I was born in '66, just 41 years ago, there was still segregation. Only 41 years later, a black man could now become President. Now, we are a great country!

    August 28, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  21. S. Boatman

    Obama Gave An Amazing Speech Tonight! There Is No Way To Spin It Otherwise. . . Although Many Will Try Im Sure!

    August 28, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  22. Ellen Connett

    It will be an historic loss if Americans choose not to elect Barak Obama, the best and brightest our country has to offer.

    August 28, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  23. Joe, Pomona, California

    Obama's speech was transcendent. He masterfully articulated the specifics of his campaign's agenda while reaching out to a larger, higher vision of America above party politics. He appealed to the best in us instead of exploiting the worst in us. It was the speech of a lifetime.

    August 28, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  24. Sharon Heath

    America has been missing the true statesman it deserves for decades. With this speech, Barack Obama demonstrates the promise to become that leader. This hard-fought campaign has honed his initial idealism to a penetrating clarity.. After the desperate years of George Bush's presidency, many of us had nearly run out of hope. Obama has reignited it.

    August 28, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  25. larry b

    Tonight was a threshold event. Where our nation chooses to go from from here will speak volumes to the rest of the world. Will we live up to our potential? Will we live our rhetoric? Will we choose the security of past failed policies rather than choosing new choices in an uncertain future? Barak's candidacy opens a new door, are we brave enough to walk through it?

    August 28, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
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