Courtney and I aren't the most political of folks. Sure, we watch "Meet the Press," vote every two years, and keep up on world and local events, but we've never attended a political rally before. I think I've given very small donations to Presidential nominees before, including John Edwards four years ago. But we both admit there is truly something different when it comes to Barack Obama.
The national media keeps saying he's on a press holiday as he hasn't made a flub yet in interviews or on the trail (two days old of course) but as Chicago residents we've watched Obama a lot longer and I don't' think there has been a flub. He even roots for the White Sox unapologetically yet Cubs fans don't mind because at least he makes a stand. That's not easy to do.
Seriously though, to get us off our self-involved asses and into the
UIC Pavilion on a Sunday night before another long week of work Obama
has to have something. My family would call it chutzpah, Courtney's
family would likely say "balls" (her word) but Obama is as straight a
shooter as I've seen in politics in my young years.
His strategy is pretty simple, he's selling hope. A novel idea
but when you put it in a package with some definitive platform points –
environment, health care, end to the war in Iraq – then hope can sell.
Oh, so about the rally. We got there around 4 o'clock even
though the ticket said 3:30 because we had heard he wouldn't be
speaking until about 5. We got decent seats. Our seats were determined by the green color tickets we had gotten after driving to the far west
side 39th Ward Democratic office to get them. Let's just say
that's not our hood and those that live there didn't seem to be the
high priority for the event since we were in the balcony. However, the UIC was truly multi-cultural.
We were sitting in a sea of brown, yellow, black and white and it
seemed…I don't know, right. I've attended hundreds of concerts and
sporting events of all kinds and I don't think I've ever seen a racial
mix like the one at the UIC tonight. You can tell from the photos that the crowd was arranged so the "packed" part of the house was behind Obama and in front of the camera platforms. This is how politics works I guess. Truth be told, it seemed like the only three sections not filled were directly behind the choir there on the left.
Obama was running a little late and we heard from
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky who admirably warmed up the crowd but
during the downtime I'm surprised the gospel choir that was there
didn't start performing again like they did in the half hour leading up
to the first pre-speech talk. At around 5:40 or so Obama arrived and
the house (I'd guess around 10,000 maybe less) went nuts as I kind of
What I didn't expect was Obama's speech. I was thinking we'd
get lots of platitudes, plenty of "go Chicago" rah rah rah stuff. Nope,
we were getting the early Obama stump speech. Here we are, a little
less than a year out from the Iowa caucuses and we're getting a 25-minute stump
speech. I have an odd feeling I'll be able to remember this speech by
heart before Iowa. There were protesters that interrupted the speech
with chants and a banner for Obama to stop funding for the war in Iraq.
Here you have the only Presidential candidate that was against the war
from day one and you're complaining that he isn't doing enough to
denounce the war? That's youth I guess. Short sighted. In politics if
you don't fund troops to at least protect themselves from IEDs and
every other weapon hurled at them you're not going to look good in
anyone's eyes. Obama handled the interruption well and later stated
clearly that he would fund troops but that he wanted them out and the
best line to me of the whole night was something along the lines of: we
need to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in.
Really great phrase I wish I had it verbatim.
Tonight, we go to sleep pretty excited about the Obama
campaign. I'm not sure if we'll go crazy and volunteer quite yet but
it's looking that way.
*On a media side note, we did see David Gregory of NBC news on one of the camera platforms.