What strikes me again about Bruce is how beautifully he speaks within a tradition of American populist rhetoric. Just as he did when accepting the Oscar for "Streets of Philadelphia," speaking of transcending the "veil of differences" that divides us from our fellow human beings, Bruce manages here to condense the issues in this contentious to campaign into a few sentences that say everything that needs to be said.
I taught speeches by Abraham Lincoln in my classes this morning, focusing on his "State of the Union" address from December 1st, 1862 and the Gettysburg Address. They contain Lincoln's most eloquent and heart-stirring prose, a repository for subsequent speechwriters including people working for both Kerry and Bush. It's hard to measure up to Abe's standard. But Bruce comes awfully close. And when he kicks into the slow, acoustic version of "No Surrender" -- the first lines of which I quoted on my yearbook page, incidentally -- the words in the song give new force to the words in his speech and vice versa. I was blown away.
I can't tell you how delighted I am that artists like Mr. Springsteen and Mr. Mathers are spending all the political capital they've stored up. This is one time when acting like there's no tomorrow is the surest way to make sure there's a tomorrow.