Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National convention last night was brilliant rhetorically and substantively. It was delivered with the passion of someone speaking her truth, the spark of a woman deeply in love, and the skill of a lawyer who knows how to build an arc of persuasion.
There was no ridiculous “I love you women!” moment in Michelle’s speech. There didn’t need to be because she actually communicated with women how her husband’s policies—from equal pay to reproductive rights—demonstrate that he respects and values them.
When Michelle said of Barack, “Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are,” she drove the ball straight home with voters. And she touched the hearts as well as minds of anyone watching.
The purpose of a presidential candidate wife’s speech is to humanize her husband. In the end, it was the humanity of Michelle’s stories and personal reflections that connected most viscerally with the audience. She brought them (and me, hardened as I am to political speeches) to tears and to their feet. For a shining moment, she brought back the aspirational hope and change that her husband promised and that had lifted Americans to our higher selves in 2008, and lifted him into the Oval office.
Paradoxically, though I felt she went a little heavy on her her “mom-in-chief” self- identification, her declaration, “Doing the impossible is the story of this nation,” is one of the strongest leadership lines ever uttered in a political speech.
Or maybe it wasn’t such a paradox after all. Being mom-in-chief is pretty good preparation for political office. I was left to wonder: why aren’t we running Michelle for president?
An excerpt from this article ran in the Politico Arena where the question “Did Mrs. Obama make a solid case for her husband’s reelection?” was asked. Here is a link to my response to the Arena question.