One thing was clear after Wednesday night in Philadelphia. Barack Obama sure knows how to deliver a speech. Speaking at the Democratic National Convention for the fourth, and likely final time, Obama saved his best for last.
It was a 44-minute work of art, in which the President praised Hillary Clinton (“There has never been a man or woman, not me, not Bill [Clinton]—nobody more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States.); likened Donald Trump to America’s greatest enemies (“Anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.”); and reminded everyone who may be having doubts that America is still the greatest country in the world.
Up until now, Obama rarely addressed Trump by name when speaking publicly. That wasn’t the case tonight. Trump was one of the leading forces behind the birther movement, which questioned the President’s citizenship and called for the release of his birth certificate. No, tonight was personal.
“He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election,” Obama said of Trump. “That is another bet that Donald Trump will lose. Because he’s selling the American people short. We are not a fragile or frightful people. Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order. We don’t look to be ruled.”
When he wasn’t looking outward, condemning the GOP or praising Hillary, the President shifted his focus inward. He talked about his own roots and how they relate to the value system that defines our country. He talked about his grandparents, who “didn’t respect mean-spiritedness or folks who were always looking for shortcuts in life.” Instead, they valued traits like “honesty and hard work; kindness and courtesy; humility; responsibility; helping each other out.”
It was a stunning contrast to the politics of fear and cynicism that have come to define Trump’s campaign and fell in line with the mostly aspirational tone of the DNC. “America has changed over the years,” he added. “But these values my grandparents taught me—they haven’t gone anywhere. They’re as strong as ever; still cherished by people of every party, every race, and every faith.”
In a time when the country feels divided, Obama preached unity, strength, and perseverance. He also preached change. When the crowd began to boo after he invoked Trump’s name, a stoic Obama said, “Don’t boo. Vote.” It was spontaneous, vital, and perfect. It’s almost like he’s done this before.
Watch the President’s speech in its entirety, below.