Her address also reflected a realization by Obama and those around her that, for all its power, adulation is a most fragile thing. It must be treated tenderly when venturing into the rough terrain of politics. But Obama managed to navigate the chalk line, maintaining her above-the-fray aura while landing blows against her husband’s opponent.
The first lady also acknowledged that her husband’s first term has been difficult.
“After so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are — it reveals who you are,” she said.
Without naming GOP nominee Mitt Romney, she took a shot at his chief selling point, which is that his career in business is the best preparation for steering the nation out of hard economic times.
“I’ve seen how the issues that come across a president’s desk are always the hard ones, the problems where no amount of data or numbers will get you to the right answer, the judgment calls where the stakes are so high and there is no margin for error,” Obama said. “At the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as president, all you have to guide you are your values and your vision and the life experiences that make you who you are.”
The easy part Tuesday night was reprising what she had done four years before at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, when many Americans got their first extended look at their first-
lady-to-be. That year and this, Obama narrated the history of a thoroughly American family, with a thoroughly American story.
Both she and Barack Obama came from the kind of people who “simply believed in the fundamental American promise that, even if you don’t start out with much, if you work hard and do what you’re supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids.”
It was impossible to miss the contrast she was trying to make when she said, “For Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make — it’s about the difference you make in people's lives.”
Just as important a mission for the first lady was rekindling the romance with those who supported her husband in 2008 but may be wavering now.
As she stood in line Wednesday to buy Obama paraphernalia outside the convention center, Angela Cureton of Waxhaw, N.C., called the speech “an altar call.”