Last night Michelle Obama delivered the convention speech of the age. It was better even than her CUNY commencement speech of June 3, 2016. It was political oratory at its best, and will go down in history as one of the best convention performances of all time.I have to believe that the speech motivated a number of progressives and independents, and to some extent unified the Democrats. She walked out onto the stage to a divided audience containing delegates who were booing every mention of Hillary Clinton. But by the time she had finished nearly everyone in the audience was standing, applauding the message and high-fiving somebody.
She was inspirational, drawing on the belief held by most of America’s minorities that the nation’s best days are still in front of us. She intentionally derailed the doom and gloom message of the Republicans, that America has somehow become disconnected from its position of greatness as a leader on the world stage.
“[D]on’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great—that somehow we need to make it great again—because this right now is the greatest country on earth,” she said to an outpouring of applause. “And as my daughters prepare to set out into the world, I want a leader who is worthy of that truth.”
She talked about her daughters, and of the challenges she and the president– and all other parents– face in providing them with good examples of adults they should aspire to emulate. She implied that all of us ought to be thinking about what kind of an example Donald Trump would set as president of the United States.
America, the First Lady said, has come a long way in its relatively short history and the real story of the nation is found in it’s overcoming the horrors of its early beginnings.
“[T]he story of this country,” she said, is “[what] has brought me to this stage tonight. The story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”
Some of us will remember that she first mentioned the house built by slaves comment during the CUNY commencement address. She was immediately attacked by right wing commentators and called unpatriotic for being critical of the nation’s past. Never one to back down, though, she mentioned it again during the convention address and this time, using it, she wrapped herself not just in the flag, but in the very creed of the nation, showing just how far the nation has actually come from those days to these, to see a black man become president of the U.S.
Without speaking to anyone in particular, she addressed the hardcore Bernie supporters, and probably the Black Lives Matter contingent as well, when she spoke about Hillary’s loss to Obama 8 years ago.
Clinton, she said, did not get angry. Didn’t pack up her marbles and run home. She rolled up her sleeves and went to work for the Obama administration as Secretary of State. She kept working on the issues she believes in, and now is the presumptive Democratic nominee for President of the United States. This, FLOTUS said, is bigger than Hillary or any individual’s wishes or desires.
“[B]ecause of Hillary Clinton,” Michelle said, her voice cracking, “my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.”