Tonight I’m going to stay up late to watch Barrack Obama give his acceptance speech to the Democratic conference.

It isn’t a political thing, although in the balance Obama is my favoured candidate for president. This is a matter of history in the making.

In the age of the soundbite, it is rare that great stakes hang upon a moment of oratory. But it is oratory above all else that has swept Obama to the Democratic candidacy. But to date he has had the wind behind his sails, with everything to gain. From this point on he has something to lose. Obama’s speech tonight is, for me at least, the first real test of the man. Does Obama have anything of substance to say? Does he have the conviction to do more than spin rhetoric?

As a writer, I find the art of speechmaking fascinating, not least because many great writers make their living crafting speeches for our great political figures. But even more than that, because whilst most things in the world of politics come and go, speeches remain a constant. Some of the most momentous moments in history have turned on a speech made well. Or made badly. So I’m gambling a few hours sleep against the chance of tonight being one of those moments.

I think it’s a good bet.

Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

2 thoughts on “Oratory


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