Barack Obama Comes to Richmond, Virginia

After Eight Years of Mangled English, Finally an Orator To Make Us Proud

Worth the Wait

We made the trip to Richmond yesterday to see Barack Obama speak at the Richmond Convention Center before an estimated crowd of 13,000. The line to get in stretched around the block on both sides of the building. Outside, it was like a Grateful Dead concert with hawkers selling t-shirts, hats, buttons, cotton candy, candied apples, and even recycled cotton shirts. If you didn’t see a button you liked, you just had to move a few feet, and look at someone else’s board, and odds-on, there would be one that would probably be more to your liking. There were police on horses for crowd control, and guys with sandwich boards standing next to the line, chatting while protesting. I didn’t see any McCain people, but maybe they weren’t on our side of the building.

Parking in the capital city was at a premium, and the parking police were having a field day. I was foolish enough to think that we would be able to get a space under the Convention Center, so I did not wear walking-friendly shoes. Not to worry though; I simply took off my boots, and walked in my socks most of the way there. (Since I spent most of my youth in bare feet, it really didn’t phase me; my family was a bit aghast, though. Why do things like that still surprise them?)

The Convention workers were trying their best, dontcha know, to move people up into the nosebleed section, but since I really can’t do stairs or heights, we bypassed them and moved to the floor where the action was. Obama was scheduled to begin at 12:15, but nothing started until 1:30. (Turns out, he was at a meeting with his foreign policy advisors and the press at the Jefferson Hotel, trying to clarify remarks made by Joe Biden regarding a possible test of Obama’s abilities once he is in office.*) The crowd was a bit restless, but not too impatient. After all, Obama was coming to a red state, and we were all probably going to be a part of history in the making. Who couldn’t wait for that?

Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia opened, and former Governor Mark Warner, who is running for Senate followed. But the undoubted star of the show was Senator Barack Obama. The crowd was electrified, and so was I. The man is a born orator. His cadence is natural, and he knows how to speak to a crowd. There is none of the stilted awkwardness that I sense in John McCain. Everything that I have seen on television when watching Obama is amplified when seeing him in person. He truly connects with his audience without being hammy or overwrought. It ended far too soon, and unfortunately, in the smash of people trying to get autographs and handshakes, neither Corey nor I were able to get close enough. Still, the aura of the man (I know that’s hokey) traveled, and we were really glad that we made the trip.

Favorites Parts of the Speech:

  • We are the United States of America. We are a nation that’s faced down war and depression; great challenges and great threats. And at each and every moment, we have risen to meet these challenges — not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans. With resolve. With confidence. With that fundamental belief that here in America, our destiny is not written for us, but by us. That’s who we are, and that’s the country we need to be right now. 
  • There are no real or fake parts of this country. We are not separated by the pro-America and anti-America parts of this nation — we all love this country, no matter where we live or where we come from. There are patriots who supported this war in Iraq and patriots who opposed it; patriots who believe in Democratic policies and those who believe in Republican policies. The men and women from Virginia and all across America who serve on our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America —they have served the United States of America.
  • This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we haven’t seen in nearly a century. And future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose? When we allowed the same divisions and fear tactics and our own petty differences to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession?
  • Or will they say that this was another one of those moments when America overcame? When we battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other’s success?

  • I ask of you what’s been asked of the American people in times of trial and turmoil throughout our history. I ask you to believe — to believe in yourselves, in each other, and in the future we can build together. 

    Together, we cannot fail. Not now.

  • We can do this. Americans have done this before . . . .

    Now it falls to us. Together, we cannot fail. And I need you to make it happen. And if you stand with me, I promise you we will win this election, and then you and I — together — will change this country and change this world.

Yes, I’ll admit it, I was teary-eyed, cynic that I am. Leave me alone already.

Um, This is Awkward Joe:

I really don’t know what Senator Joe Biden meant when he said the following at a Seattle fundraiser on Sunday:

“Mark my words, it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

I think that he was tring to say that as a new president, Obama will face crises just as any new president will, but that’s not how it came out. It was almost a Sarah Palin moment, and of course, Sarah Palin loved it. Her response? “He told Democrat donors to mark his words – that there were ‘at least four or five scenarios’ that would place our country at risk in an Obama administration,” Palin said.  “I guess we’ve got to say, ‘Thanks for the warning, Joe!”

Obama’s camp tried to undo the damage by insisting that Biden was just reciting history and affirming that Obama’s is the man for the job. As for the man himself, at his meeting at the Jefferson Hotel, Obama said that “Joe sometimes engages in rhetorical flourishes, but I think that his core point is that the next administration’s going to be tested regardless of who it is.”

Still, it was a weird moment whatever the intent.

Correction

I made a mistake. I know, I know. I’m actually admitting it. Corey was stupefied, to say the least. I said that the last time Virginia went to a democrat was in 1976, during the Carter election. I was wrong. It was in 1964 during the Johnson election. Can you believe it? Not only did I make a mistake, but I actually put in print that I was wrong? Who woulda thunk it . . .

Photo Ops