Obama and Me

Jim Barack

It was a long walk in the humidity, a long line to get through security, and a long wait in the hot sun, but finally, at long last, Senator Barack Obama, the man everybody has been talking about, emerged from a nearby building, jogged up on the grandstand, and I was 50 feet away.

THE GAUNTLET 

Earlier that morning, I drove five miles from my house in McAllen to the University of Texas Pan American campus in Edinburg, parked my Ford about a mile from the chapel courtyard where the event was held, and walked across the entire campus.  Along the way, I encountered groups of Edinburg police, bomb-sniffing dogs, and several barriers.  It was a cloudy, humid day (about 80 degrees), so by the time I finally arrived at the venue, I was sweating profusely.  The line wating to get through security was really daunting, and a little discouraging, but I got in line to wait my turn like everybody else.

 Sammy called me on his cell phone to say that he was up further, so I moved up about 100 spots, and still had to wait in line more than 45 minutes.  Obama volunteers were everywhere, getting names and addresses on clipboards, passing out bumper stickers and reminding us that, “Obama needs you twice, guys.  Once to vote today, and again to caucus in the evening of March 4!”  The atmosphere was expectant and electric.

By the time we finally arrived at the x-ray machine, the crowd had become huge, and the line behind us stretched for at least 200 yards and around a building.  I took the change out of my pocket, telling the screener, “This is change you can believe in,” but I don’t think he got the joke.  After getting through the x-ray machine, I was wanded by two secret service agents.  Looking around, I noticed a LOT of secret service agents, and several guys with FBI jackets.  Sammy also noticed lots of plainclothes cops milling through the crowd as well.

Security Screening at Obama Rally

Once inside the courtyard, we found ourselves in a sea of humanity, thousands of people pressed together holding “Texas for Obama” and “Change We Can Believe In” signs.  We made our way around the perimeter, admonished by cops to “keep moving, please”, until we found a good spot next to a grandstand, about 50 feet from the platform.

 By now, music was pumping through the speakers – I recognized some Paul Simon stuff and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”.

Crowd at Obama Rally

I chatted with a lady sitting on the grandstand next to us who said that she was at a Hillary rally a few days earlier that was not as electric and not as diverse and young.  “It was a bunch of senior citizens and politicos,” she said.  “This is a lot cooler.”  I told her it might have something to do with the fact that we are on a University campus.  She asked who I was supporting and I said, “I would rather not discuss that in this venue.”

Sadly, I did not have my video camera with me, so I asked Sammy to take a picture of me with his cell phone.  As he was about to snap the picture, a lady behind us handed me her “Texas for Obama” sign and said, “You need that in the photo, but I want it back!” 

 Jim Ost at Barack Obama Rally

As the crowd grew, I became more convinced that this was a terrible venue…too small, not enough field of vision and really cramped. I think the Obama advance team thought that since Hillary was popular here in South Texas, they wouldn’t get numbers.  Boy, were they wrong…

THE CANDIDATE

Finally, after another 30 minutes of waiting, a loud, annoying lady who could barely speak English, I think her name was Lydia Torres,  stood up and started telling the crowd how tired she was of “beesnees as ujual” in “Wachingtone”  About halfway through her speech, Obama appeared from behind a building and jogged toward the raised platform, shaking hands along the ropeline.  The lady started screaming even louder, “Let me introduce heem”, but the crowd kept chanting “Obama, Obama” until she gave up and said, and now, eet ees my honor to present to ju the next Presidente of the Junited States of America, Baracko Obamaaaaaaaa!”  She didn’t even know his name….crazy.  The crowd, already whipped up, erupted in cheers and chants of “Obama, Obama”.

Barack Obama

Just as Obama stepped up onto the platform, the clouds parted and the sun broke through.  He was wearing a blue, long-sleeved shirt, with the sleeves rolled up, and a tie, and grinning from ear to ear.  “I want to thank whoever arranged for this 70 degree weather,” he said.  “I’ve had a tough winter.”

Here are the first few minutes from live coverage on local television

Here is a perspective from the back of the crowd – cell phone video

A wild perspective of people directly on the ropeline within hand-shaking distance

He then told us how he had decided to run even though “it wasn’t his turn” according to many in Washington.  “They thought I should stew for a while until they boiled all the hope out of me”.  He then explained that, in Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, “the fierce urgency of the now” compelled him to get involved.

Barack Obama speaks

The first part of the speech was full of language about unity, that we should not be divided by race or gender, but that we are all Americans.  That was nice, until he began to divide us, when his speech hit themes of rich vs. poor, environmentalists vs. auto manufacturers, CEO’s vs. workers, Bush vs. everybody, big oil vs. average people, etc. 

Obama speaks at rally in Edinburg

I clapped twice.  Once when he said that “our troops have done everything we have asked them to do, and have done it with honor,” and again when he said, “we deserve a president who tells us the truth.”  I can’t argue with those statements.

The crowd seemed positive, but not over-the-top Obama worshipers.  One lady on our left kept repeating what he said in an annoying voice until those around her told her to be quiet.  Obama got the most applause when he talked about getting out of Iraq and when he said that Bush and Cheney would not be on the ballot.  He got a lot of laughs when he talked about the geneological study that discovered that he and Cheney were distant cousins.  “Man, I was hoping I would be related to “somebody cool, and then….it’s Cheney!” 

Obama Addresses Crowd in Edinburg

He finished his 30-minute talk by mentioning a telegram that Martin Luther King, Jr. sent to Cesar Chavez, saying that their struggle was the same.

As soon as he finished with “Thank you and God bless you”, Lyle Lovett’s voice came booming out of the speakers singing, “That’s right you’re not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway”.  People surged forward to shake his hand, but we were too far back to make it up to the ropeline.

MY REFLECTIONS

I enjoy political rallies during presidential election years.  There is nothing like the spectacle and the hoopla surrounding one of these events.

I would put Barack Obama up there with Reagan in his ability to connect with people and engender affection.  You can’t help but like this guy.  He has a charisma and charm that is undeniable.

I can’t vote for him because of his position on the war, on abortion, on gay marriage, on the kind of supreme court justices he would appoint, and many other issues, but I know a winner when I see one.

Get used to saying “President Barack Obama”

Watch more highlights of his speech here.

11 Responses to Obama and Me

  1. ben says:

    First post!

    Thanks for the run-down, Jim. I generally not too impressed with Mr. Obama, aside from the fact that he’s an inspirational speaker. I agree with you that his policies, as far as we can tell, are terrible. But, I’m finding it hard to muster up the fear, terror, and loathing that I get when I think of Hillary and Bill back in the White House. So, given how weak, old, liberal, and decrepit the Republican candidate is, I’m sort of glad that Obama is beating Hillary, so I don’t have to be anxious about her crushing McCain in the general.

    Just let me know when you’re ready for me to give you that list of third party candidates that you won’t cause you to hold your nose, swallow your vomit, and strangle your conscience as you vote🙂

  2. Gregg says:

    Jim,
    Great change joke! You are right he will be the next president. It will affect my career path and it will affect the course of this country. However, you do have to wonder how much change is will truely be able to enact. Lets be honest, while everyone- at best, distrusts Hillary she has been in the system long enough to make the connects required to move Washington. I wonder if Washington sees Obama as the upstart, and if their political pride has been tarnished. I mean a Jr. Senator becoming president!

    He’s uniting the people, not the republic for which they stand. (i.e the political machine that is the repubacrats) You know I am a Obama supporter. I agree with you I HATE some of his politics- abortion being the biggest, but I want an America we can believe in. I want a politican who makes me believe its not what my country can do for me, but what I can do for my country. I want a country that reaches again for the stars and not looks for exploding crecent moons under every rock. Jesus said it best, “A house divide against itself cannot stand.”

    Great posting and I wish I had a copy of your picture with the Texas for Obama sign. You have a great sense of humor!

    Gregg

  3. Obama, as a person, doesn’t scare me. What makes me nervous is that several supreme court justices are close to retirement, and the justices he will pick will be ruling waaaay past his administration. THAT scares me.

    But, let’s be honest; he’s a lot more classy than the Clintons, especially the way they seem to be going down ugly this week.

  4. Unless Hillary produces a miracle moment in tonight’s debate, she’s done. Here’s more evidence that the lights of her campaign are beginning to dim. Get out the paddles, turn up the juice and scream , “Clear!”

  5. jo anne balcombe says:

    I read his testimony on some news website – says he received Jesus as his Saviour…he does seem like a classy kind of guy who says his reputation means more to him than anything. I also see him as a winner, and most probably the next President; also a high risk for assasination. I think it would be cool to see a major upset by the man who majored in miracles. Possible, but not probable.

  6. RubeRad says:

    I wouldn’t get too excited about Obama’s “Christianity”. His home church is pretty scary. They describe themselves as “Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian” — seems the wrong order to me. Reading the rest of their self-description at that page, they seem to consider Christianity as secondary to their African-ness. (Africanity?) Seems to me like a non-Muslim version of Nation of Islam.

  7. Blumster says:

    JIM OST for President!!!

  8. More bad news for Hillary. Her horse is crossing the finish line lame and exhausted.

    And this tidbit from NRO on last night’s debate:

    He was cool, comfortable, and self-assured. She was tense, resentful, and annoyed. She whined. Her “attacks” — like Obama’s neglect of his oversight subcommittee duties — failed. Hillary Clinton seemed to be desperately clawing her way to a win while Obama was enjoying a refreshing ocean breeze. She’s smart and focused — but no match for someone who is so sharp and self-confident.

  9. Rube,

    Yup, Obama’s church is basically a front for radicals and their liberal, political agenda. And now, it seems, they are under investigation for violating tax law. Methinks the fur might fly once the Republicans start unloading on Obama, without having to worry about attacking him from the right.

  10. I have been invited to this private meeting with Obama for Pastors tomorrow in Brownsville. Any questions you want me to ask?

  11. Jerry says:

    What you probably noticed was that the lady who introduced him couldn’t speak spanish either. She introduced him as the next president, el principio presidente. Principio as you know means beginning not next. I guess she got him and George Wacheenton confused.

    She really did screw up the name once he was Baracka and then Baracko. The people around me were laughing at her and were about to boo her off stage. Lucky he saved her.

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