Keller @ Large: Re-Reading The 2004 Boston Speech That Launched Obama

BOSTON (CBS) – In the run-up to Tuesday night’s farewell speech from President Obama, I pulled out the transcript of the speech that made him a national figure, his 2004 keynote address at the Democratic National Convention here in Boston.

And it makes for interesting, and at times sad, reading.

Early on in the speech, then-State Senator Obama talks about the workers he’d met who are “losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that’s moving to Mexico, and now they’re having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay 7 bucks an hour.”

And I wondered how he and his fellow Democrats let that anguish get co-opted by Donald Trump.

He described how people told him “they don’t want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon,” and I wondered why he couldn’t establish a brand as an anti-waste advocate.

Democratic National Convention keynote speaker Barack Obama addresses delegates July, 27, 2004, in Boston. (Photo credit ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Democratic National Convention keynote speaker Barack Obama addresses delegates July, 27, 2004, in Boston. (Photo credit ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

If you recall, that speech was full of eloquent lines, like the one about how the fundamental belief that makes America work is “I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sisters’ keeper,” and I wondered if that was ever really true.

And then I came to the famous passage where Obama insisted “there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America…. there’s the United States of America.”

President Barack Obama speaks during his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. (Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama speaks during his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. (Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Last night, even as he returned to some of the themes in that 13 year old speech, after everything that’s happened, I wondered if he still really believes that.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

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