Ezra's got a fever, and the only prescription is more Obama ... :
I've been blessed to hear many great orations. I was in the audience when Howard Dean gave his famous address challenging the Democratic Party to rediscover courage and return to principle. I have heard Bill Clinton speak of a place called Hope, and listened to John Edwards bravely channel the populism that American politics so often suppresses. Some of those politicians mirrored my beliefs better than Obama does. Some of their speeches were more declarative and immediate in their passion. But none achieve quite what Obama, at his best, creates.
Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.
I, too, am favorably disposed toward Barack Obama, and enjoy listening to his speeches; he's the finest rhetorician in the current Presidential field, no question. I cannot honestly say that he makes me feel as though history has contracted around me, or that I'm being called back to my highest self, but maybe I'm just not listening hard enough. Or maybe my highest self just isn't sufficiently resolute in its opposition to D.C. special interests to hear on the Isaiah-esque frequency he's hitting.
I should also note that when I do listen hard, like Reihan I sometimes find myself thinking, man, this guy's full of himself.