As a journalist who has covered Obama for 19 months now, I have heard him deliver more speeches than I can count. I know when heís tired he goes long Ė like 90 minutes long Ė rambling through oft-repeated points and stories. Iíve seen him address crowds of 80,000 and rooms of less than 100. And after a while you become immune to his prose and tune in only to new wrinkles.
Obama spent today giving curtailed speeches in respect to Hurricane Gustav. But tonight, in front of a Milwaukee audience of 14,000, invoking both the Bible and Thoreau, he was as good as Iíve ever heard him. He spoke for just over 14 minutes but he left the audience roaring. Here are excerpts of the last five minutes. I will endeavor to post the audio.
That spirit of looking out for one another, that core value that says I am my brothersí keeper, I am my sisterís keeper, that spirit is most evident during times of great tragedy, itís most evident during times of great hardship, itís most evident when natural disasters strike because we understand that only God has control and so it takes it out of the realm of politics. We all understand that we have to come together.
But that spirit canít just be restricted to moments of great catastrophe. Because as I stand here today and look out at the thousands of folks who have gathered here today, I know that thereís some folks that are going through their own quiet storms.
[Ö]Thereíre people out there whoíve seen their jobs shipped overseas. Thereíre people out there who donít have healthcare, maybe theyíve been trying to pay it on a credit card but mostly theyíve just been putting off trying to see a doctor. Thereíre seniors out there that donít know how theyíre going to pay their home heating bill this winter. There are folks out there that donít know how theyíre going to fill up the gas tank. There are young people in this audience right now that have graduated from high school, have the grades and want to go to college, but donít have the money. There are young people being born in the inner cities, right here in Milwaukee, that donít see any prospects for the future that think the only path available to them is a casket or a jail cell.
All across America there are quiet storms taking place. There are lives of quiet desperation. People who need just a little bit of help. Now, Americans are a self-reliant people, weíre an independent people. We donít like asking somebody else to do what we can do ourselves but you know what we understand is that every once in a while somebodyís going to get knocked down. Every once in a while somebodyís going to go through some hard times. When we least expect it tragedy may strike. And what has always made this country great is the understanding that we rise and fall as one nation, that values and family, community and neighborhood, they have to express themselves in our government. Those are national values. Those are values that we all subscribe to. And so that the spirit that we extend today and in the days to come as we monitor what happens on the Gulf thatís the spirit that weíve got to carry with us each and every day. Thatís the spirit that we need in our own homes and itís the spirit that we need in the White House. And thatís why Iím running for president of the United States of America.
Because if thereís a poor child out there, thatís my child. If thereís a senior thatís having trouble, thatís my grandparent. If thereís a guy whoís lost his job, thatís my brother. If thereís a woman out there without healthcare, thatís my sister. Those are the values that built this country. Those are the values we are fighting for. http://www.time-blog.com/swampland/2008/09..._on_gustav.html