Obama comes to Madison
By the time I got there, about 4:00 p.m., the line to get in was about 3/4 of a mile long. I kept walking and walking, expecting to find the end of the line. It just kept going and going. After I finally reached the end of the line, I waited a few minutes, not expecting to get into the event. I started to leave, and a campus policeman showed up and told the crowd the event was filled to capacity. He said they could hear Obama's speech at the legendary Bascom Hall. I didn't find that prospect appealing, and starting heading for home. I could watch the speech on TV in the relaxing environs of my humble abode.
It was worth the effort. I got to tour the campus more intimately than I had before, and enjoyed the panorama of buildings that had sprung up over the years. It was interesting to see how a crowd brings out the best and worst in people. The people in line were pretty subdued and polite, but the various ushers I came across were in full ego-glory, exalting in their power to direct the crowd.
The most touching scene was the father trying to comfort his daughter when he told her she wouldn't be able to see the president. This was better than seeing Obama. If I had a real photojournalist's eye I would have snapped a shot sooner, when the child was in full crying mode (I know that in the picture it looks like a boy, but it was a girl).
As for Obama's speech, it was pretty standard fare, feisty, eloquent, charismatic. I did watch it on TV at home, and was almost persuaded. His attack on the "Republicans" rang true, but his heroic stance of standing up to them didn't exactly jibe with real experience. He's still talking about the "blue" states and the "red" states, and still tries to talk fake-folksy, saying (sayin') things like workin' people, marchin' for civil rights, and fightin' for you. He also has the annoying habit of stretching out words ala Martin Luther King. Worst of all, he trotted out his tired metaphor of trying to meld the "red" states and "blue" states into the "United States of America." We may not get dead tired of him by 2012, but we will certainly have had enough of him by 2016.
He has continued Bush criminal regime practices of secrecy, domestic spying, "Guantanamo," the endless military incursion in "Afghanistan," the lingering involvement in "Iraq," and the worst elements of the "Patriot Act." In addition, he squandered golden opportunities to reform our healthcare and financial systems, leaving us with weak half reforms. He has stacked his economic team with Wall Street and fellow-traveler hacks. He retains a national security apparatus that is as committed to military adventurism as his predecessor.
Still, I'm glad he came. What I saw in the faces of the people in line was encouraging. It wasn't the hateful and crazed look of recent "Tea Party" rallies. People may have misplaced faith in Obama, but they at least are motivated in the right direction. We all want a world we can live in, and for our civilization to have a future. As long as people still have this motivation, there is hope for a better way to be on this planet.
You can view a few scenes of the event by clicking here.
To see a video of Obama's speech, click here.
Ben Harper performed this song at the rally.