“We listened to our hopes, instead of fears.” With that line in Denver, Michelle Obama summarized it all. In America, politics isn’t a contest between political parties. It is a contest between hope and fear. The party that has the hope usually gets the White House.
Right now, the Obama campaign is managing to evoke not just one hope but many different sorts from victorious presidential campaigns past.
Kennedy hope is the first kind that Senator Barack Obama and wife Michelle bring to mind. That’s the hope of youth for upward mobility. Here the Obamas out-Kennedy both the Kennedys and Clintons.
Even though he was the first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy was the son of the ambassador to the Court of St. James. The path that Barack Obama climbed was a lot steeper, even if his parents were graduate students.
Starker yet is the contrast between Jacqueline Bouvier of Newport and Michelle Robinson of Chicago’s South Side. The Robinson family’s telling of their story of multiple sclerosis and the Brady Bunch was the most compelling in many a convention.
What mattered wasn’t only that Michelle began her life humbly but that she didn’t seem in the least angry about it.
Bill Clinton was literally the Man from Hope, and he wore the Kennedy mantle everywhere (recall that picture of him as a Southern teen shaking JFK’s hand). Yet Clinton came off not as Kennedy but as Kennedy Canned.