That. Was. Incredible.

If you’ve been fol­low­ing the DNC from home, then you just wit­nessed, along with us, one of the great­est speech­es ever deliv­ered at a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion… Michelle Oba­ma’s cul­mi­nat­ing prime­time address, in which she elo­quent­ly laid out the case for Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma’s reelec­tion. To say that the speech was a home run would be putting it mild­ly. It was absolute­ly fantastic.

By the time Michelle Oba­ma walked out onto the stage  at 10:38 PM, expec­ta­tions were already high — and del­e­gates were already plen­ty excit­ed — but the First Lady some­how man­aged to pro­pel the ener­gy in the are­na to a whole new level.

I’m not sure how to describe the feel­ing. A mix­ture of delight, hap­pi­ness, joy, grat­i­tude, excite­ment. A euphor­ic feeling.

In that moment, when Michelle Oba­ma walked to the podi­um, it felt like there was an elec­tric cur­rent in the air. Thou­sands of We Love Michelle ral­ly signs in the air. Every­body on their feet. Cam­eras flash­ing. Yelling, whistling, cheer­ing and clap­ping so pro­longed that the First Lady had to wait for the excite­ment to sub­side a bit so she could begin her remarks… which I’ll dis­cuss in a moment.

Democrats welcome Michelle Obama to Time Warner Cable Arena
Democ­rats wel­come Michelle Oba­ma to Time Warn­er Cable Are­na just after 10:35 PM on Tues­day, Sep­tem­ber 4th. (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Repub­li­cans have been try­ing to sug­gest for some time that Democ­rats just aren’t enthu­si­as­tic about reelect­ing Barack Oba­ma. I think tonight, Democ­rats offered con­vinc­ing proof that the Repub­li­cans are com­plete­ly wrong, The enthu­si­asm here in Char­lotte is con­ta­gious, and there’s a lot of it. Democ­rats tru­ly are fired up and ready to go to ensure that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma gets a sec­ond term in 2012. If Democ­rats lose this Novem­ber, it won’t be for lack of trying.

In her speech, Michelle Oba­ma described her own jour­ney as a moth­er from being the spouse of a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date to the spouse of the leader of the free world.

“Serv­ing as your First Lady is an hon­or and a priv­i­lege,” she told del­e­gates and guests. “But back when we first came togeth­er four years ago, I still had some con­cerns about this jour­ney we’d begun.”

“While I believed deeply in my husband’s vision for this coun­try, and I was cer­tain he would make an extra­or­di­nary Pres­i­dent, like any moth­er, I was wor­ried about what it would mean for our girls if he got that chance. How will we keep them ground­ed under the glare of the nation­al spot­light? How would they feel being uproot­ed from their school, their friends, and the only home they’d ever known?”

“See, our life before mov­ing to Wash­ing­ton was filled with sim­ple joys — Sat­ur­days at soc­cer games, Sun­days at Grandma’s house, and a date night for Barack and me was either din­ner or a movie, because as an exhaust­ed mom, I couldn’t stay awake for both,” she added, to laugh­ter from the hall.

“And the truth is, I loved the life we had built for our girls, and I deeply loved the man I had built that life with — and I didn’t want that to change if he became Pres­i­dent… I loved Barack just the way he was.”

“And stand­ing before you four years ago, I knew that I didn’t want any of that to change if Barack became President.”

President Obama watches First Lady Michelle Obama's speech with their daughters
Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and his daugh­ters, Malia, left, and Sasha, watch on tele­vi­sion as First Lady Michelle Oba­ma takes the stage to deliv­er her speech at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, in the Treaty Room of the White House. (Pho­to: Pete Souza/The White House)

“Well, today, 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 — no, it reveals who you are.”

Del­e­gates jumped to their feet, giv­ing the First Lady anoth­er stand­ing ovation.

“You see, I’ve got­ten to see up close and per­son­al what being Pres­i­dent real­ly looks like,” Oba­ma con­tin­ued. “And 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. And as Pres­i­dent, you’re going to get all kinds of advice from all kinds of peo­ple.  But 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.”

First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the 2012 Democratic National Convention
First Lady Michelle Oba­ma address­es the 2012 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion on Tues­day, Sep­tem­ber 4th. (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Lat­er, she reflect­ed, “So when peo­ple ask me whether being in the White House has changed my hus­band, I can hon­est­ly say that when it comes to his char­ac­ter, and his con­vic­tions, and his heart, Barack Oba­ma is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago. He’s the same man who start­ed his career by turn­ing down high-pay­ing jobs and instead work­ing in strug­gling neigh­bor­hoods where a steel plant had shut down, fight­ing to rebuild those com­mu­ni­ties and get folks back to work — because for Barack, suc­cess isn’t about how much mon­ey you make, it’s about the dif­fer­ence you make in people’s lives.”

After ask­ing the con­ven­tion to stand with her in reelect­ing Pres­i­dent Oba­ma, she exit­ed to thun­der­ous applause and anoth­er sus­tained ovation.

Washington, New Hampshire, and Minnesota delegates cheer for Michelle Obama
Wash­ing­ton, New Hamp­shire, and Min­neso­ta del­e­gates cheer for Michelle Oba­ma (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

The unan­i­mous opin­ion among every­one I’ve talked to so far here in Char­lotte is that the speech was out­stand­ing. Of course, we’re biased.

But then, so is our opposition.

It’ll be inter­est­ing to see if any media orga­ni­za­tions come out with polling show­ing what self-pro­fessed inde­pen­dents and unde­cid­ed vot­ers thought of the speech. I bet if there are any such sur­veys done, a major­i­ty — or more — will give the First Lady a good grade. That was sim­ply a ter­rif­ic speech.

We’re all def­i­nite­ly look­ing for­ward to tomor­row after this. Eliz­a­beth War­ren and Bill Clin­ton have a tough act to fol­low. But they are excel­lent speak­ers in their own right, and I sus­pect they’ll be able to build on the excite­ment that Michelle Oba­ma and all the speak­ers who came before her built this evening.

Char­lotte is rockin’ tonight!

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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