Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention was seen by more than 38 million people.
Nielsen Media Research said more people watched Obama speak than watched the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing, the final "American Idol" or the Academy Awards this year. Obama talked before a live audience of 80,000 people in Denver.
His TV audience nearly doubled the amount of people who watched John Kerry accept the Democratic nomination to run against President Bush four years ago. Kerry’s speech was seen by just over 20 million people.
Much to the chagrin of the John McCain’s campaign handlers, those people all got to see the real "real Obama" — unfiltered, not through the distorted lens of their Rovian B-team attack ads — and learned that he was anything but a pampered empty suit:
. . . in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton’s Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.
In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.
When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.
Just as importantly, though, they learned what Obama was committed to do as President: changing the tax code to reward work and job creation instead of existing wealth, expanding access to health care and quality education, and the Kennedyesque challenge to end U.S. reliance on Mideast oil in 10 years.
It’s a stark contrast to the shallow, identity-based politics being played by the Republicans, exemplified in John McCain’s announcement of his vice presidential nominee today.
The GOP presidential message boils down to this: Vote for McCain because he was a prisoner of war. Vote for Sarah Palin because she’s female. Vote for them because of who they are, not because what they’ll do.
If you have the crazy notion that this country has enough serious problems that some important things need doing… well, as Obama said, "you’re on your own." Unless, that is, you vote for change.
I have a feeling that most of those 38 million-plus people who watched Obama speak last night were of the opinion that voting for a president because of what he’ll do is exactly the change we need.