If you didn’t see it for yourself, Michelle Obama’s masterful speech last night is worth a view or a read, especially for two lines that really stood out. The first followed her moving description of her father’s love and care for his children, his struggling with multiple sclerosis to climb the stairs one at a time to give them a kiss when he returned from work — like much of her speech the words painted vivid pictures — his making sure that he paid his small share of his children’s tuition for college — on time — even if it meant having to take out a loan. He did all this to give his children a better life, because for him, “that’s what it meant to be a man.”
Much has been made of Mrs. Obama’s speech and its strong appeal to women, but that line may have been the best summary of fatherhood I have ever heard, at least in a political setting. This is the dream of every father, the dream of providing, of giving his children love and as many advantages as he can muster. Was there a father watching the first lady who didn’t think of how proud her father would have been last night?
The other line was more strategic but also searingly true: “Being president doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.” My mind immediately went to previous presidents, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and the Bushes. Were not their characters revealed, for better and for worse? And then to Barack Obama, whose popularity has remained high precisely, I think, because people believe he is an honest, hard-working, caring, grounded human being who also knows what it means to be a man. Mrs. Obama reminded many people last night of why they liked her husband in the first place. One test of the convention passed with highest honors.