Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Convention Watch! Michelle Obama's Speech

Getting into the spirit of the MomsRising.org BINGO game early, I decided to tune into Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention. There was quite a line up of speakers, from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Senator Ted Kennedy to Caroline Kennedy to the woman of the hour, Michelle Obama.


Maybe it's my third trimester hormones since I'm not usually a teary type, but when Michelle's mom starts narrating the slideshow of Michelle's childhood in her gentle voice... well, I can't help but think of the generations of mothers and children who came before. It's such a great window into the values and determination of this family.

Then Michelle's speech starts, and her first words are not about policy, the economy or the war. (And she could have delivered a passionate engaging speech on any of those things.) Instead, she talks about family-- and not in the abstract. She talks about her own experience as a sister, wife, mother, daughter. She talks about her close relationship with her dad, who suffered and eventually passed on from MS.

From there, her speech eventually does mention the economy, the war and health care, but she does it squarely in the context of family life in the United States. Instead of describing what's wrong with the system, she describes how families deal with the impact. It's a really powerful rhetorical style. She talks about parents kissing their kids good night before taking that extra night shift; about a student working nights to pay for her sister's health care; several mentions of people, especially young people, foregoing flashy careers because they're needed back in their own communities.

Michelle ends her speech where she started it-- with her own family, her daughters, her husband's desire to be the best father he can be. I came away feeling like she meant what she said, and that as a hands-on parent who has experienced what it's like to struggle a bit, she'd need no explanation of what MOTHERS on our BINGO card means.

I'm looking forward to listening to some more speeches in the next couple of weeks, during both conventions, with my BINGO card handy!