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This is the Night

Tuesday, February 24, 2009. This, I predict, is the night that historians will look back to and agree — this is the night that our 44th president found his voice.

It took a few weeks, didn’t it? The inaugural speech left some cold. Then several of the Cabinet nominees stumbled and vetting was incomplete. Obama got wrapped up in this goal of bipartisanship and ended up being smacked down by Republicans.

All that will be forgotten after tonight. I’ve watched the speech twice already. It is a masterful presentation by a young president who connected tonight with the American people on every level. He was forceful, articulate, confident. As many of the TV analysts pointed out tonight, the theme of the speech was clear: Crisis affords opportunity. We can solve this problem. We can solve any problem. We are Americans.

Obama talked at length about the need for energy independence, health care reform, and especially a renewed emphasis on education. Get the military out of Iraq. Fight the terrorists where they really are. Give our soldiers the benefits they deserve. Get the economy moving again. Put the people back to work. I even saw John McCain stand and applaud a few times.

Make no mistake. Tonight, for the first time, we heard the Barack Obama that many of us voted for. He “gets it” now after an admittedly rocky start, even though his legislative record is still more accomplished than most previous modern presidents. Yes, his popularity has come down a bit, but he’s still in the upper 60s.

This is the night, a good night for all Americans. A night for all of us to feel proud. And hopeful.

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