By MATT NEGRIN (@MattNegrin)
WASHINGTON, May 23, 2012
The 2004 version of Barack Obama, who captured the nation with a dazzling speech about unity and went on to win the presidency on a message of hope, died on Monday. He was 8 years old.
The cause of death appeared to be a bitter realization that he needed to win reelection in an increasingly partisan political environment, a cancer that he had been battling for months if not years.
Obama's illness got the best of him late Monday, as he announced that his campaign for four more years in the White House would be based not on optimism, but rather the shady corporate record of his opponent, Mitt Romney, who ran a private-equity firm that few Americans knew about before this year.
Obama's announcement was a stark contrast to the speech that catapulted him into his party's sights eight years ago, when he electrified Democrats at their quadrennial convention.
"There is not a liberal America and a conservative America," Obama declared to cheers at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. "There is the United States of America.
"We are one people," Obama roared, perhaps envisioning his political future as the crowd rose to its feet. "All of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."
And strangely enough, it was in that very speech that Obama predicted his own demise. Just before his climactic applause line, the future president issued a stark warning.
"Even as we speak," he said, "there are those who are preparing to divide us -- the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers, who embrace the politics of anything goes."
On May 21, 2012, more than three years after he was sworn into office, Obama confessed at a press conference in his hometown, Chicago, that he had become one of those peddlers.