Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Obama's Star-Making DNC Speech, 10 Years Later

The Illinois senator soared to global fame with his hopeful message to restore America's greatness

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sunday was the 10-year anniversary of President Barack Obama's star-making keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

    Then a U.S. Senator from Chicago, Obama stole the spotlight from then-presidential candidate John Kerry and became an international celebrity overnight thanks to his stirring oratory gifts and hopeful message at a time of low morale and Bush-era burnout.

    It was the kind of speech that made people say: "I wish he were running for president instead of the other guy."

    Sending chills up the spine, the young future president intoned: "Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America."

    Ten years later, Obama's brand as the sanest, most adult-like adult in the room remains intact. As for his ambitious agenda to restore America's greatness and global goodwill while working across the aisle to effect positive change ... well, that's come undone amid the harsh realities of governing in the age of the tea party.

    Also: GOP lawmakers' pushback, partisan finger-pointing over Obamacare, unrelenting world conflict, the post-crash economy and middle-class decline, the NSA scandal, on and on and on. All of this adds up to not-great approval ratings, with a heaping dose of partisan deadlock on Obama's efforts to enact game-changing immigration reform and increase federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, among other goals he hopes to achieve before leaving the White House.

    Did I totally depress you?

    Let's visit the famous 2014 speech, and remember the way he was back then: