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Obama's 2004 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address

In 2004, then first-term Illinois Senator Barack Obama delivered the Keynote Address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention.  In case you forgot, as I did, John Kerry had just won the Democratic Nomination.

I'm not sure how he managed to get the gig.  I'm not sure how much scheming and "what if-ing" he had in mind when he wrote the speech.  I'm not sure if even he, in his wildest dreams, could have foretold what the following decade would bring him.

If you take out any mention of "John Kerry", this speech is Barack Obama running for President in 2004.  In fact, the fundamental themes of Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign are set forth in this speech, 4 years prior: his unlikely story, the power of Hope, that there is one undivided United Sates of America.  Wow!  These themes were already established in his mind, had nothing to do with national polling or what was making news in post-Bush 2008!  What vision!  The question "is America ready for a black President" is nowhere to be found; in 2004, Obama and his vision have already moved past that.

I can't imagine the surprise of the Democratic Leadership or the American People when hearing such a speech.  Did the Democratic Leadership know what was coming?  Could even Obama appreciate the irony of the following line in his speech?

In this election, we offer that choice. Our Party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. And that man is John Kerry.

It's crazy to, as Steve Jobs would say, connect the dots looking back.

The audience absolutely loses it when Obama says the following:

Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us -- the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of "anything goes." Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there’s the United States of America.

The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an "awesome God" in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.


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