“Ask not what your country can do for you, as what you can do for your country.” Remember that? Everyone knows who said it. Most of us remember that comment led to the Peace Corps. Most of us remember that John Kennedy’s leadership united the country behind the space program – a program that has enriched all of our lives with technological innovation. For what do we remember Abraham Lincoln?
The Gettysburg Address? The Emancipation Proclamation? Yes and Yes. Garry Wills wrote a national bestseller and won the Pulitzer Prize with his book titled, “Lincoln at Gettysburg.” subtitled, “The Words that Remade America.” Was Lincoln merely speaking in ‘platitudes?’
Hillary Clinton and John McCain – both fearful of Obama – have suggested that Obama merely speaks in platitudes. Wills suggests that Lincoln did not address specific issues “because he wanted to lift his ideal of America as the Declaration’s nation above divisive particulars.”
When I listen to Barack Obama give his victory speeches I hear a man who wants to lift this nation up with hope. He knows that he is not addressing particulars – but that is his intention – his desire is to unite. Obama has addressed specific issues in great detail during debates, he is no fool. But he knows that there are times and places for oratory and for action.
The policy wonks of Clinton and McCain come off as stilted and boring. They do not have the grasp of leadership of a Lincoln or a Kennedy or an Obama.