To the delight of professional journalists, former President Barack Obama gave a jaw-dropping speech at the Democratic convention on Wednesday. Its dark and divisive tone signaled an attempt to drag America backwards by electing the man who served for eight years as his vice president.
Obama’s speech was the rhetorical equivalent of a culture war Hiroshima blast. It offered some token words of praise for Joe Biden, whom he repeatedly urged not to run, but was infused with the desperate rantings of a man who needs to be praised. “He made me a better president,” Obama said, effortlessly hogging the spotlight as usual.
Obama assailed the convictions of Donald Trump supporters, suggesting they “don’t believe” in American principles. He cast the stakes of the upcoming election in stark terms, inviting Americans to fear their neighbors, described only as a nefarious “they” secretly plotting to destroy the country from within.
“They are counting on your cynicism. They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter,” Obama said while making threatening hand gestures at an oversized U.S. Constitution—an ominous backdrop for a speech teeming with vengeful rage. “That’s how they win.”
Political journalist Tim Alberta argued that Obama’s speech was “without precedent” in that it was “the sharpest criticism a former president has *ever made* of a sitting president.”
Obama went on to call for a great redefining of America, urging citizens to “give our democracy new meaning” and “take” the country back to a “better place”—where he is still the president. At one point, Obama urged Democrats to engage in “voting like never before,” a possible dog whistle endorsing the use of voter fraud.
“Barack Obama just delivered the finest convention speech in modern history (again),” mused Politico reporter Ryan Lizza on Twitter.