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.
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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.
GLORIA FELDT is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, a sought-after speaker and frequent contributor to major news outlets, and the Co-Founder and President of Take The Lead. People has called her “the voice of experience,” and among the many honors she has been given, Vanity Fair called her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers,” and Glamour chose her as a “Woman of the Year.”
As co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a leading women’s leadership nonprofit, her mission is to achieve gender parity by 2025 through innovative training programs, workshops, a groundbreaking 50 Women Can Change The World immersive, online courses, a free weekly newsletter, and events including a monthly Virtual Happy Hour program and a Take The Lead Day symposium that reached over 400,000 women globally in 2017.