Chris Matthews while interviewing Jim Doyle, governor of Wisconsin, made a remark which I believe he had thought about previously, but said seemingly off the cuff. The subject was Obama and they were discussing Obama's ability to turn a phrase and make people cry with hope as they showed video clips showing just that on the campaign trail. He said most great politicians were able to give great speeches and he cited John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
I believe he is right. The great speakers are great because they are expanding on their dreams for us and for our country. To be great you have to be somewhat of a dreamer, able to edify what you see, to be able to make the listener think you are talking to them personally, evoking word images of how great we can be. In Franklin Roosevelt's case, he had to relieve our fears and give us hope when we had too many of the prior and none of the latter.
Kennedy was able to inspire us to dedicate ourselves and work together to accomplish a goal. We thought we were included in the mission to the moon, we flew with those astronauts, we shared the fears of the endeavor, Kennedy made us a part of it.
Reagan made us proud to be Americans again. He gave us back our optimism and confidence.
But one of the best ever I believe was Winston Churchill when there was little hope that Hitler and his mob would be stopped from coming over the channel and conqueringing England. The United States politics of non-intervention made us just sit back and watch. The speech Churchill made at a time when there was little or no hope, inspired the island nation of England to stave off the nazis. He inspired the English people and the RAF. They rallied. If they hadn't, history would have been drastically different.
This was their finest hour.