Obama knocked it out of the park tonight at the Abe Lincoln bicentennial dinner in Springfield, Illinois. Stunning.
He created an unexpected word picture:
Here in Springfield, it is easier, perhaps, to reflect on Lincoln the man rather than the marble giant, before Gettysburg and Antietam, Fredericksburg and Bull Run, before emancipation was proclaimed and the captives were set free. In 1854, Lincoln was simply a Springfield lawyer, who’d served just a single term in Congress. Possibly in his law office, his feet on a cluttered desk, his sons playing around him, his clothes a bit too small to fit his uncommon frame, he put some thoughts on paper for what purpose we do not know: “The legitimate object of government,” he wrote, “is to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they can not, by individual effort, do at all, or do so well, by themselves.”
And then Obama made the Union, its creation and survival, the central theme of his speech — in the process rebuking those who have a “knee-jerk disdain for government” that offers only “this constant rejection of any common endeavor.” The cherry on top was that he managed to do it without calling them Republican obstructionist assholes, thus preserving his civility.
Postscript: Feb. 12 — Watch and listen. The speech is much more impressive as he delivered it, including the ad libs.