Havi, Barb and I went to the Obama rally last night. I am not sure there is much difference between Obama the TV presence and Obama the speaker to crowds. He speaks well, is very magnetic, has a charming calm mien.
I was left glad that I read Huffington where other folks have gotten to know BO personally. Reading the endorsements of intellectuals like Nora Ephron means a great deal to me.
The finished product from the media confuses me. I had hoped to see some of the real man, what I saw was a slick presentation of a bright man, but too much polish. I would have like to see him take his jacket (mismatched!) off, sit on a stool and answer questions. Sigghh. At least we got to contribute $150 more to the campaign.
I was also a bit disturbed by the opening entertainment. There were two African-American dance troops and a horrible American idolish singer from Tacoma. The Tacoman was a sad version of a sixties guitar folk protester ..except he could not sing and the lyrics were a countrified view of love as sadness. Skill and talent were not there. His lyrics were more country than 'nam, and his guitar sounded like it was made by Casio. All in all, like watching American Idol.
By comparison, the two African dance groups were awesome. They were kids and adults, with enthusiasm and rhythm, GREAT! One group represented East Africa .. too bad no one pointed this out! Didn't the candidate have a parent from Kenya? Instead of diversity, lets celebrate Obama himself .. just as we celebrated Kennedy the Irishman!
The hostess, a former PBS host turned PR professional, named Chin, introduced the dance groups as an example of Seattle as a divers society. This sort of liberal claptrap puts me off ... but more so I fear that it will put the truly divers Seattlelite off. There is some sort of condescension, a racist condescension .. liberal or not .. in referring to an African American troupe in a white city as evidence of diversity. Seattle is, after all, the home of Quincy Jones and Jimmy Hendrix. This sort of talent and creativity is very much Seattle and American, like the Senator that in a way.
In the same Seattle spirit it was good to see that former Mayor Rice was there to endorse BO. Rice, the color of dark walnut, was the Mayor of our city, never dod anyone regard Mr. Rice as our Black Mayor. With only about 5% Black population Norm was el;eted for his charm and leadership qualities. Sound familiar? I am very glad that Norm Rice was not introduced as the Black Mayor!
The best thing about Mr. Obama, so far, is that he is the antithesis of the republican cnadidates pool. There are real issues that real Publicans once stood for. There is a real constituency for balanced budgets, religion in the schools, an offensive American military. There are many Americans who would like t change how kids are taught and do all we can to make US industry competitive. Obama was right when he daid the poeple are lookng for a change and I suspect his "act" is tailored to that desire.
Look at the selection of leaders the GOP offers and imagine the outcome in 2008:
Romney .. He is the only really good choice you have but 30% pf your party will never vote for someone who thinks Jesus was an American Indian. How will Romney the Mormon play in the right wing Christian churches a la Colorado Springs? Imagine the man who chose Jesusrunnignvs. the man who believes in Moroni? The central problem for Romney is the hypocrisy of any Mormon who tries to equate his or her religion with Christianity. Romney should have taken the stand that being a Mormon is good in and if itself. He shold make a Kenendy speech about not followign the dictates of the elders even when they claim to be speaking for God.
Guiliani ... a successful mayor with little else to recommend him PLUS 3 marriages, him kids openly hate him, and there are the pix of Rudi in drag. Hmmm .. Dukakis in the tank, Kerry windsurfing, Rudi in panties? If BO is the candidate running against RG, someone will make the swiftboaters sem like a kindly memory.
Fred Thompson .... the babe wife, a record of saying government is boring. He did command a nuclear submarine in a movie and has stayed at Holiday Inn. As a mdia creation and maybe as a real person, Thompson is a threat to BO and even more to Hillary. But, it seems to me that BO has more raw talent as an actor.
John McCain. McCain could have been Kerry's VP. he should have done it. Now he is 75, with a scary history of melanoma. And, he is sadly leashed to Mr. Bush. How do you campaign for President on "Bush was Incompetent" ticket?
Gingrich. Newt typifies the horrid contradictions facing the party that claims to be the representative of the moral majority. His life style .. the money, the wives, the spouse abuse, the affair during impeachment all scream of hypocrisy.
So far this essay is at best defensive. I WANT to say positive things. The speech, wasn't that why we had come? Obama's speech was well wrought. He seems sincere and much of what he said was wise. H estarted out with some modesty .. somehow this was unconvincing:
"I have to say that sometimes I have to ask myself, how in the heck did I get here? How did I come to be standing in front of these crowds that are so representative of America, that draw from every walk of life. And I wish I could take credit. But I have to tell you it has to do with more than me. It has to do with this hunger, all across the country, this palpable energy everywhere we go. ... Everyone is clamoring for change."
Somehow I do not think that the editor of the Harvard Law review arrives there from a public school in Malaysia w/o ego. But Barak seems to be telling us something lese and this is convincing, he really does seem ordinary. Here is a Harvard Law attorney who has chosen a modest and public life of service. This is hard to imagine, but then you remember the strange accident that led to his election to the Senate, an election where he was unopposed because of a scandal in an otherwise popular Republican incumbent. "So many of us understand that politics has become a business instead of a mission." Somehow I find myself believing he is on a mission and is modest.
Obama in the crowd. JOHN LOK/THE SEATTLE TIMES
I especially like the message in re Iraq. This man is NOT a radical, "It is time to match the might of our military with the strength of our diplomacy and the power of our alliances and the wisdom of our strategy." Obama went on about HOW to withdraw troops "we have to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in." BO is no simplistic peacenik, though he did say "But I will tell you this Seattle: If Congress doesn't do it before George Bush is out of office I will do it when I am in office. You can take that to the bank.". Later I heard David Goldstein's radio show. David seems teetering into the Obama camp, albeit worries that Barack is too middle of the road.
I enjoyed the audience. By far the richest mixture of people I have seen in one place at kone time in years. Every race seemed to be represented other than Martian. I met a lot of impressive people and interestingly. like Mr. Obama himself, they were all rational, patriotic people. No peaceniks or anti-Amerikans! Oh, and I met some friends form Morehouse College in Atlanta. Great to see these folks at an Obama rally. The yuong people of the very special school could be a vanguard of change in the South! Imagine .. Obama takes Georgia! Imagine further that BO takes the vote of white Christians, seeking an alternative to the flotsam and jetsam of the post Bush Pubican party. Much of what Obama said w=should appeal to these people .. a call for all Americans to come back together to work for the common good. And, he manages to claim he makes hois decisions as a Christian! Can you imagine a similar claim by Giuliani or Gingrich?
What I did not hear? Obama should not only be moderate, he should be extreme in asking for sacrifice. "Some of these things are going to cost money and we cannot do a lot of these things if we keep on spending on $275 million a day on a war that is not making us safer in this world. It is time to bring our troops out of Iraq." All fine and good but WE need to pay of the trillion dollars Bush wasted. I would have liked to hear a commitment to national service, to tolerance, to a more literate America, to .... the things he will need to ask of us if he is elected. I keep wondering, do the consultants tell him that such a message is bad for votes?
I have begin to worry that BO may not have the strength to call on his fellow Americans for sacrifice, This sunny message may be an election strategy, but addressing the nation's problems will require a very different message than what was given last night. I want to believe this "new" man has that sort of strength.
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