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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Obama’s Victory Speech

posted by on January 3 at 22:08 PM

Barack Obama just appeared at Hy-Vee Hall—the same place where, a few weeks ago, I saw him and Oprah Winfrey do a joint campaign event—and he gave a rousing victory speech in which he declared his win in Iowa proof that “America is ready to believe again.”


The crowd was ecstatic, and so was a Seattle woman who happened to be standing next to me, Laurie Ragen Gustafson, who gave me these photos she took of the event.

Campaign workers hugged. A band of young people in some sort of drill team did a rump-shaking danced around the room as a warm-up act. And reporters pressed against the metal barriers of the media area and jostled for the best view spot.


“On this January night, at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do,” Obama began.

And it was indeed something unprecedented and hard to believe: A black candidate had won the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination in a state that is over 90-percent white. There were tears in people’s eyes even as television commentators were doing their live stand-ups and cautioning that Obama still has a long way to go. He seemed to acknowledge that reality as he continued, speaking to both the crowd and the national television audience: “You have done what the state of New Hampshire can do in five days.”


He was interrupted frequently by the crowd chanting: O-bam-a, O-bam-a, O-bam-a.

“The time has come for a president who will be honest about the choices and the challenges we face,” Obama continued. “Who won’t just tell you want you want to hear, but what you need to know.” And he got his biggest applause for this: “I’ll be a president who ends this war in Iraq and finally brings our troops home. Who restores our moral standing. Who understands that 9-11 is not a way to scare up votes but a challenge to unite America and the world against the common threats of the 21st century.”

He also tapped into the sense that something new is happening in this country, and that the result in Iowa is only its first manifestation. “Years from now,” Obama said, “you’ll be able to look back with pride and say this was the moment when it all began. This was the moment when the improbable beat what Washington always said was inevitable… Years from now you’ll look back and say this was the moment, this was the place where America began to hope again.”


He then launched into a defense of his campaign’s emphasis on hope, an idea that he (accurately) said had been mocked as a bit too starry-eyed and impractical by other campaigns recently as they’ve tried to stop Obama’s rise. “Hope is what led me here today,” Obama said. “With a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas, and a story that can only happen in the United States of America. Hope is the bedrock of this nation. The belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us. By all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage remake the world as it should be. That is what we started here in Iowa, and that is the message we can now carry to New Hampshire and beyond.”

The crowd went wild, and a very new type of candidate, and a very new type of first family, suddenly seemed a very real possibility.


UPDATE: Here’s the video:

RSS icon Comments


This is all very JFK.

And Sen Obama's wife is very Jackie.


Posted by Will in Seattle | January 3, 2008 10:32 PM

Biden and Dodd have both announced they are dropping out. Wow, that didn't take long.

Posted by Reverse Polarity (formerly SDA in SEA) | January 3, 2008 10:35 PM

Here's the video of his speech:

Posted by Ryan | January 3, 2008 10:38 PM

That speech was a breath of fresh air after listening to W for the past several years.

Posted by freshair | January 3, 2008 10:43 PM


i would not mind having obama as president. i just trust richardson more.

Posted by Cale | January 3, 2008 10:45 PM

Also, great synopsis, Eli.

Posted by Ryan | January 3, 2008 10:47 PM


A couple thoughts about tonight:

* I listened to the returns as I took down my Christmas tree. It was an end, and it was a beginning.

* I was ecstatic when I heard that Huck had won by such a significant margin. If Huck's the R nom, we could run Foghorn Leghorn/Squeaky Fromme and win one for the Ds. The religious right is going to sleep for a couple years now.

* But they'll wake up.

* I was impressed by Clinton's speech for the fact that one wants a leader who really wants to lead. She sounded like she wanted to do a great job for America.

* My friend and I were pulling up to dinner at Monsoon when Obama's speech came on. Honest to god, beyond a snippet here and there, I'd never listened to the man speak...

...A memory...

I am walking up Castro Street, San Francisco, in the presidential race of 1988. It is evening, and the Democratic Convention is playing on the TV in nearly every bar. Most of the bars have large windows, open to the street, and many of us gather to watch Jesse Jackson give his speech. I will never forget hearing him say, "gays and lesbians" as he spoke a list of who the party stood for. I will also never forget that I shed a few tears, and felt good about politics, and good about where we may have been going as a country.

* Tonight, after Obama's speech was complete, after my friend and I heard the shrieks -- there's no other word -- of joy and excitement from the crowd, we looked at each other and though we didn't say a word, I'm pretty sure what happened was we agreed that we could vote for this man, and would do so happily if he were the nominee.

* Whether or not we can feel good about where we're going as a country? That remains to be seen.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | January 3, 2008 10:51 PM

All I can hear from him is the sound of a GIANT QUEEFING DOUCHE BAG!!!!

Posted by artyaerysaer | January 3, 2008 11:16 PM

This is what I've always wanted to hear
“I’ll be a president who ends this war in Iraq and finally brings our troops home. Who restores our moral standing. Who understands that 9-11 is not a way to scare up votes but a challenge to unite America and the world against the common threats of the 21st century.”

Ohter factors are important to america but this is why Obama is the one I will vote for.
Obama has soul as a president, and thats what been lacking for a long time.
In fact it is hard to compare him to any other prior president because he seems to be much more in and amongst himself. And I think that reflects in all of us. He's got this presidency in lock, I can just feel it.

Posted by sphynx | January 3, 2008 11:25 PM

I am monumentally relieved that the election isn't sewn up for Hillary, because in the general election her win would be much more of a nail-biter, if it happened at all. I'm a little worried about Huckabee because he's REALLY likable for all the reasons Bush isn't: He sounds like he believes what he says. He could really fire up the base. But with Obama on the other side, I'm not too terribly worried.
I actually hope these wins keep rolling all the way to the finish line, because it will mean this: America is tired of people who are blatantly lying. We want people in power who make us feel like their words aren't 99% vetted by PR firms.
Maybe they're both full of shit, but they sound so much more real than Bush. My worst case scenario match-up for blatant insincerity and anti-charisma: Giuliani vs Hillary. Those two would drive voter turnout into the Mariana Trench.

Posted by christopher | January 3, 2008 11:30 PM

Ah, the thought of having, for the first time in my life, a president who fails to inspire in me either raw hatred or mild unease/discomfort ... it's just such a new concept to me.

Posted by tsm | January 3, 2008 11:32 PM

@7 great post JTC.

And great reporting by Eli.

One of the things I am struck by out of tonight's outcome is that both of the winners are the youngest in their respective pack.

With Obama, the difference is more pronounced. While Clinton at 60 is at the very front-end of the boomers, Obama at 46 is at the very tail-end. Perhaps we're beginning to see a slight generational shift in power.

As numerous as the boomers are and with the vast majority still in their early 50s, they ain't going away soon, but just maybe the battle between them and their parents (Reagan, Bush Sr, etc.) will not be such a dominant part of the political landscape.

Posted by gnossos | January 3, 2008 11:36 PM

From Ken Silverstein's profile of Obama for Harper's in October 2006...

"I recalled a remark made by Studs Terkel in 1980, about the liberal Republican John Anderson, who was running as an independent against Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter: 'People are so tired of dealing with two-foot midgets, you give them someone two foot four and they start proclaiming him a giant.'"

Posted by tomasyalba | January 3, 2008 11:41 PM

In the fight between charisma and experience, round one goes to charisma.

Posted by Justin | January 3, 2008 11:49 PM

(Not that I'm opposed to Obama; I freakin' love the guy. Did you hear that speech? Nailed it!)

Posted by Justin | January 3, 2008 11:49 PM

I sent the following email to my friend on 06/19/2005:

Have you learned much about Barack Obama? He's the new Illinois Senator. I saw his name after the Democratic convention but I didn't actually see his speech so I didn't know what all the fuss was about. He was on Oprah today and as I was sitting there I got chills. I was thinking "This man is going to be President of the United States someday." His charisma and sincerity is palpable, I have never felt so jazzed about a politician before. I believe he can go all the way if he wants to. Now I need to read some stuff to learn his stance on key issues, I hope I won't be disappointed.


I called it! (OK, so did a lot of other people.) I still think he can go all the way.

Posted by Kristi in Kitsap | January 4, 2008 12:03 AM

I like some of Obama's policy ideas, but the JFK-esque-ness of his appeal scares me. JFK never accomplished much beyond representing change. His reputation would be much poorer if he hadn't gone on to represent the implosion if the 60s ethos by being assassinated. It was Johnson, a consummate down-and-dirty old-school politician's politician, who actually implemented a progressive agenda. Are all representational candidates cursed to never rise above empty signification?

Posted by David Wright | January 4, 2008 12:11 AM

Still wondering why we are paying little Eli to cover national news when we have really big local and neighborhood issues. Especially a murder.

Little Eli should grab a copy of Theodore White's works.

He's a sorry excuse compared to old Theo.

Please stop with little Eli.

Bring him home to help cover the murder.

He is doing 0 in Ioway.

Posted by Johnny Readsalot | January 4, 2008 12:37 AM

Hooray for the black Jimmy Carter!

I've been holding back on this, but now that it looks like Obama might just win this thing I feel compelled to say something that might be unpopular:

Do you honestly think Republicans and the rest of America's depraved oligarchy are interested in his "one nation" spiel? Time and again, they've proven that all they're interested in is money, power and their twisted, repressed morality plays. If Obama gets in, how will he handle the assault? High-minded ideas won't mean squat. He'll spend four years being undercut, manipulated, scandalized and fed to the media attack dogs before losing in 2012 to some right wing asshat.

We need somebody in the presidency who can beat these jackals back, not meet them halfway. What is progressive about a candidate who puts "bringing the nation together" above fighting tooth and nail for the ideas and values that progressives believe in? I don't WANT to bring the nation together; I want to mow down all these backward jackasses that will never agree with what I believe in and never look back.

That may sound like a hard line, but we HAVE to take a hard line, because these people give no quarter. Forget idealism about how the system should work. The system is the system. Both Hillary and Edwards are better suited to fight the entrenched, greedy hogs that still run this country, because they've been in the muck themselves. Hillary especially knows what it's like...that's why she's such a badass ice queen bitch. We should embrace that about her, not talk about how "uninspiring" she is.

And when I say "greedy hogs" I'm not just talking about Bush and company. I'm talking about these faceless conglomerates that are ruining our bodies with poorly produced food, and our planet with cash-uber-alles environmental policy.

Do you care about gun control? Drug policy? Religious freedom (including freedom FROM religion) and gay rights? Because the forces allied against you on the other sides of those issues aren't just going to listen to Obama's stump speech and give up. They will hunker down. And unless they're beaten--soundly--they'll win. Again.

The red/blue thing isn't just a recent construct. It's been that way pretty much since the country was founded. The Civil War largely breaks down along the same lines. It's a feature of the country. Get over it. Stop trying to fix it and start trying to win.

Seriously. Be careful what you wish for here, people.

Climbing off the soapbox...

Posted by Matthew | January 4, 2008 12:42 AM

Bring little Eli home!

Posted by Johnny Readsalot | January 4, 2008 12:45 AM

Bring him home!

Hasn't he suffered enough.

He has struggled to find outlets and still written brilliant observations.

Let's bring him home before he wins one of those Pullet Suprizes.

He's a genius!

Posted by Love Little Eli | January 4, 2008 12:54 AM

@19: Obama was the first D to run a negative ad in Iowa, naming both Clinton and Edwards by name in defending his health care plan. (It was radio only and didn't get a tremendous amount of press.) Forget the spin. Obama is not a cloudy-eyed idealist; he's pragmatic. Look at his record in the Illinois state senate. Obama is just as much of a fighter as Edwards and Clinton, but he has the authentic charisma to draw Rs and independents from the center. Stop being afraid of the Rs. Get psyched for the battle.

Posted by annie | January 4, 2008 12:54 AM

i don't like that i've been continually hearing jfk comparisons. please.

i'm rooting for another dem., but i will admit obama has had an affect on whole lot of folk. still i don't think his it's enough to win it all. and the dems need this. we really need this.

if obama had a chance in the primary, i would not contest. but we should have learned from 04' that the conservative vote counts and middle america counts. at this point in our country, even as convincing as barrack obama has been... with conservatives and middle america being the way it is... his non-white sounding name would be enough to dissuade their votes. we could really use some of those votes.

my point is... if the ridiculousness of the george w. presidency from 2000-2004 was not enough to persuade more than half of white america to vote democrat. what makes us think that an articulate and charismatic black guy will?

edwards is my pick. he's a southern democrat and our best bet against huckabee.

Posted by still a cynic | January 4, 2008 12:55 AM

Matthew @19 and others, let's not forget that there's a great bulk of the American people somewhere in the middle, who are neither died-in-the-wool Blue nor d-i-t-w Red, who can be rallied to someone like Obama who promises to heal the divisions and work for the common good.

It's those folks in the middle who are most upset by the Rovian strategies of divide and conquer, by top officials who don't even try to find the truth and tell it, who view the world through a distorted lens, who don't even have a firm command of the English language, who...I could go on.

Obama will have all the Blue votes of course and has the potential to command a great bulk of the middle, for a sweeping victory in November. Hillary v. Romney, one machine candidate against another, is a recipe for 4 more years of partisan warfare and reason for the middle-ground voters to throw up their hands in despair.

Obama IS the future.

Posted by Perfect Voter | January 4, 2008 1:04 AM

It doesn't really matter. Had little Eli read his Theodore White and his "What it Takes" he'd have realized that his entire purpose was lame pictures and gasping descriptions.

Once again technology trumps talent.

Posted by Johnny Readsalot | January 4, 2008 1:27 AM

It's about time we had a great speaker who represents the whole country as President!

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 4, 2008 11:36 AM

Get off Eli's back, goofballs! He did a great job. I only wish there was more democracy in Russia so we could send him to caucuses in the Caucasus...

Oh no! I feel a Gilbert & Sullivan moment coming on...

I'm very good at summarizing all those Iowa caucuses,
I know the inner thinkings of Cantwells, Snows and Baucuses!
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and electoral
I am the very model of a modern Blogger-General!

In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and electoral,
Eli's is the very model of a modern Blogger-General! I feel better.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | January 4, 2008 11:40 AM

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