Sen. Obama in Fayetteville

All right, my original post got "ba-leeted" after I pressed the "Preview" button, so I'm trying to summon up the energy to do a second-go at it. If it's not brilliant and funny, you know why...

I was one of the "handpicked" people who got to attend Sen. Obama's appearance at Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC). In the interest of full disclosure, I am 100% a Hillary Clinton supporter. With that said, I found it RIDICULOUS that the local paper, The Fayetteville Observer, headlined today's paper with something to the effect of "Obama to speak to handpicked audience." You want to know how I got chosen? My friend is a HUGE Obama supporter who managed finally to contact someone who was helping with the event. The Obama person then asked my friend to contact military, military families, and veterans to attend. As a veteran of the Iraq war (former Army captain), she let me in (and I was too happy to brag to all my friends that I got my "golden ticket"). But let's review this hand-picked crowd: local elected officials and community leaders (which took up half the room), local Obama supporters, and military, military families and veterans. Let's compare this to the Bush Administration which VETS their audiences.

We talk about how "words" are important...so does "not open to the public" equal "handpicked"? I suppose, but let's talk about connotations of words: A) Sen. Obama spoke to a group of local Democrats and included members of the military, their families, and veterans and B) Sen. Obama spoke to a handpicked audience. Do those sentences convey different messages??

Okay, so my local paper political coverage is bad (they also messed up with a Sunday article about Clinton, but ... whatever). In any case, I arrived at FTCC early this morning, after getting some coffee. One of my friends texted me to tell the security people to let me in the VIP parking (hand-picked parking!!). I entered the lobby of the building, and saw some local elected officials and community leaders hanging around, including our local superdelegate. I met my "party" and we talked about Sen. Obama's speech about race yesterday. I talked about Sen. Clinton's speech and press conference yesterday afternoon that was great, but how it got eclipsed by the Illinois senator (and I understand it...but C-SPAN still needs to post it! It was good!). I saw a few soldiers in uniform. This made me uncomfortable b/c 1) I'm pretty sure it's against regulations to wear your uniform at a political rally and 2) Even if it isn't explicitly wrong, it's IMPLICITLY inappropriate. Put on civilian clothes for an hour, and let's pretend to keep politics out of the military (just like we criticize the Administration for using soldiers as props in their public relations campaigns).

Eventually we went through security and took our seats. We were still a bit early, so we sat in about the fifth or sixth row of chairs. The press was camped out in the rear of the room. Eventually more people filtered in. The sign on the podium said "Judgement to Lead." So I guess we knew what the message of the day was...(spoiler alert: He said "judgement" about three to four times in his speech).

Our first celebrity sighting was Annie Liebowitz (spelling?), the famous photographer. I don't know how they choose their music, but they needed to fire the DJ. There was some good dance music (I thought to energize the crowd), but then switched to groove music (maybe establish the mood for "cool" Obama, I thought), but then went into Kool and the Gang (...). I was struck that all the staffers for Obama appeared to be young blonde women. Someone told me that most Clinton staffers are young men. Don't know what that's all about!!

The time for the speech to begin came...and passed. Someone said that President Bush was on TV, so that Sen. Obama would probably wait for him to finish until beginning.

At one point, the music seemed to quiet, and there was some ruffling in the curtains from where the senator would enter. The curtains parted, some of the women I was with gasped...then cried out and OHMYGOD...it's...Anderson Cooper!!!! Apparently...he's dreamy. I got caught up in the action and got some pictures of the back of his head.

Forty minutes after when the speech was supposed to begin (what? Are we on Clinton time?!?), the "voice on high" announced the introducer (I forget his name, sadly. He's a Medal of Honor Recipient). The retired officer, after saying that it's tough being a member of the 101st ("Screamin' Eagles!") and appearing in 82nd country (Airborne!! ... I was never 82nd, but still), then said that the medal of honor was non-political, so he would take it off while he spoke (which he did). He then went on to say the country needs good military leaders, and said that for 16 years we haven't had it. I turned to a friend and said, "Um...did he just include Clinton in that?!" Weird. I can only assume he got his math wrong...I can only assume. Hmm.

He then compared Sen. Obama to Lincoln, and talked about the values needed in a leader. He said "time in rank" doesn't mean anything (though he then said Eisenhower didn't need time in rank to led D-Day...but, um, I'm pretty sure that's how he became general and how everyone in fact gets promoted and paid). He then introduced Sen. Obama.

(It was funny, he first said "Barack Obama" w/o meaning to actually introduce him, so Sen. Obama stuck his head out of the curtain for a second, then went back in. I thought, "OMG! I just saw Obama! I'm going to see him!" ...me and my political fanboy-ness)

Sen. Obama took the stage and began his remarks. I have to say...I was disappointed. I think the mythos of Obama has been created and the expectation raised so high, that he's extremely energetic and charismatic. But, he just wasn't "on" today. And I don't mean to criticize, b/c I can understand in a national campaign, it can get tiring. He was in Penn. yesterday, giving a big speech, then schlepped it to NC, was going to Charlotte later. He seemed to just read the speech, like seeing it for the first time, looking left, right, left, right with the teleprompter. When the audience laughed or applauded, he just paused for a second, then moved on. He didn't seem to connect with the audience. Again...he's not a cartoon character, I imagine he can't be Mr. Hope and Charisma everyday.

That being said, I thought the content of his speech was excellent. I think the Dome has a transcript, and I recommend everyone to check it out. As a vet and Fayetteville guy, it was very important that he not JUST talk about Iraq. For one thing, Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base is spending half their deployments in Afghanistan. Operation Enduring Freedom, which to me has become the "Forgotten War" is still going on. People are still dying, there's still suicide bombers, there's still Taliban...and, oh yeah, there's still bin Laden!!!

But he talked about Iraq. He criticized Sen. Clinton, lumping her with President Bush and Sen. McCain about her vote for the use of force resolution and her not reading intelligence reports. Then he spoke about her being a DC insider (which, um, where does he work again? Anyway...). He criticized Bush-McCain for open-ended war ("When violence was up, [McCain] says we couldn't leave; when violence was down, he says we couldn't leave").

He also talked about the need to engage in Afghanistan and the Pakistan border. He then spoke about the larger picture of Iran, Pakistan, and N. Korea. He spoke about China and global warming. I'll admit my mind wandered in the end, which, considering this is my area was weird. Again, he was just "off" this morning.

After he finished, he worked the front row, as people mobbed to get handshakes and photographs. I got a few interviews (I'm a meda wh...). I said that I appreciated Sen. Obama appearing in Flavor-ville...okay, I said Fayetteville. That it was important to show your readiness to be commander-in-chief on day one. I complimented him on some of the things I said above. I contrasted the Democrats' message of engagement w/ Bush-McCain "stay the course." And when asked if I supported him, I ... "exaggerated"...and said I would just vote during the primary, and implicitly said I was undecided. I did go off-the-record a few times, saying I was a Clinton-ista. But I wasn't there to criticize Sen. Obama, this is a time to show people that Democrats' have the stronger message on national security and foreign policy.

Another celebrity sighting was some guy from Newsweek. Can't remember his name, but I think he's on MSNBC. Some of my friends spoke w/ Obama staffers. I got interviewed on camera once...but have no idea who they were with (if I show up on the Daily Worker's TV news...).

In any case, I'm glad Sen. Obama came, and I know everyone wants him to have a public rally here later. I look forward to Sen. Clinton coming (if asked, I will fly my Clinton flag then!).

Comments

Congrats on getting your golden ticket!

Interesting to hear about the speech from the perspective of a Hillary supporter. Nicely done. He was probably late to your venue because he stayed to answer questions and pose for pictures in Pinehurst this morning at FirstHealth Center for Health and Fitness. He made a believer out of my brother and sister-in-law, who are both unaffiliated voters, and my nephew who is 13 is ready to campaign for him. My neice, however, is too cool for any of that.

According to my bro- secret service is a dream to work with, and so is the Obama Campaign. HBO, on the other hand, will probably never be allowed back in his center. Ever.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Obama in Charlotte

He knocked them dead here. Huge crowd. White/Black, Young/Old, Women/Men,

It just felt good.

Pictures: http://greeninnc.smugmug.com/gallery/4546476_oDY7u

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

Woo Hoo...thanks

I'll look after the live-blog.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Excellent and funny

Thank you for this. It's hard to tell someone you aren't voting for him. At least you were there, listened, showed respect and it sounds like you enjoyed yourself.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Thanks!

I did enjoy myself! And I'm a Democrat-for-life, so there's no way I WOULDN'T go!

Sen. Obama just hasn't "sold" me, and I don't think he will for a litany of reasons (which I won't share b/c I'm all about being positive in this campaign...the Lt. Gov. campaign however...j/k!).

But I'd be interested to hear how Charlotte went. Maybe he took a cat-nap during the ride and knocked them dead.

My biggest fear of Hill

is that she is a Clinton. The R's just hate her and I'm afraid it would just be more posing and delays without the work of the people being done.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

We need to go past stereotypes on both of them...

To me, Sen. Clinton is a bad candidate, but a great president. I think Sen. Obama is a great candidate and a...well, let's just say I have serious reservations.

And I'm just a TB (true believer!), and I'm much more interested in governing than campaigning. I need to learn the President Clinton lesson that campaigning is a great opportunity to share your message with the voters and feed of them, but it just seems like strategy and tactics when I view it. Heh, I'd just rather get to work!

But I just hope A) we can both be positive for our candidates and be negative about the other one behind closed doors and B) try to think of some joint efforts (voter registration? voter education at community events? etc?) that local Clinton and Obama campaigns can conduct to show we are all good Democrats and are in an unified effort to beat Bush-McCain. Naive of me, mayaps...

That's the spirit

I learned that lesson the hard way after alienating a good friend who backed Kay Hagan's entry into the Senate race. I came close to doing the same in the governor's race, too.

Then I took a chill pill and have mostly behaved (in terms of electoral politics) since then.

I really do hate primaries.

Great Post! [ Here's a vid link too :-) ]

I stumbled on the video for this event on WRAL while trying to check the weather before my drive home. I had hoped to write a blog entry about it, but honestly this is much better than anything I would have said. And it is neat to have the atmosphere and setting described so well.

Here's WRAL.com's video link:
http://www.wral.com/news/local/politics/video/2602536/

And text:
http://www.wral.com/news/local/politics/story/2603651/

The video starts at the "voice on high" introduction to Paul Bucha, who did the "tenure does not equal leadership skill" opening bit for Obama.

I had work to do today, but was able to listen to most of it. I admit what I heard earlier wasn't as passionate as he was yesterday. I suspect after the week he's had he's not sounding the most chipper, and apparently he was up quite late writing the race speech Sunday and Monday night. (note: ok he seems to liven up a bit further in, and gets the crowd laughing).

I thought it was an excellent speech. I thought his Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, and anti-terrorism and civil liberties points weren't just a good topic for this crowd. I think they're what needs to be said to all voters, and then followed through on.

I also thought he succinctly spelled out his Iraq policy. During today's water cooler talk at work, a coworker made a comment that was based on the notion that Obama would immediately withdraw all our troops, and the naive notion that would work. (I thought this was somewhat funny, since I had just heard that he wasn't getting out fast enough for some). But I thought this bit was worded to reach said coworker, and counter the rightwing talking point where I'm sure his statement originated.

In order to end this war responsibly, I will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. We can responsibly remove 1 to 2 combat brigades each month. If we start with the number of brigades we have in Iraq today, we can remove all of them 16 months. After this redeployment, we will leave enough troops in Iraq to guard our embassy and diplomats, and a counter-terrorism force to strike al Qaeda if it forms a base that the Iraqis cannot destroy. What I propose is not – and never has been – a precipitous drawdown. It is instead a detailed and prudent plan that will end a war nearly seven years after it started.

Now, I admit an Obama fan, but I thought he did a good job establishing himself from the current President, Senator Clinton, and Senator McCain. I think he had to as well. I have misgivings about someone who's running with his kind of message going negative, but read this bit:

...we cannot tolerate a sanctuary for terrorists who threaten America’s homeland and Pakistan’s stability. If we have actionable intelligence about high-level al Qaeda targets in Pakistan’s border region, we must act if Pakistan will not or cannot. Senator Clinton, Senator McCain, and President Bush have all distorted and derided this position, suggesting that I would invade or bomb Pakistan. This is politics, pure and simple. My position, in fact, is the same pragmatic policy that all three of them have belatedly – if tacitly – acknowledged is one we should pursue. Indeed, it was months after I called for this policy that a top al Qaeda leader was taken out in Pakistan by an American aircraft. And remember that the same three individuals who now criticize me for supporting a targeted strike on the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks, are the same three individuals that supported an invasion of Iraq – a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

I've heard the TV pundits debating possible endorsements say that Edwards wants Obama to show he's got more fight in him before he would consider him endorsement worthy. There were a few minutes where he seems to be on the offensive, but still in political-jujitsu-mode somewhat.

And after that bit he pivoted to highlight McCain's recent misunderstanding of Iraq, and all of the sudden he was in November campaign mode.

Maybe its because of where I'm sitting, but I think other politicians in his shoes could be going much more negative. I realize his candidacy has come this far partly because he hasn't. But in all, I was very pleased with the substance and the style. The war issues are some of his strongest points, and today he sounded to me like a candidate that could take McCain well in November.

I should have brought a beach ball...

I don't think any topic would have done anything for this crowd. They were pretty dead. In fact, one of my fellow Clintonistas tried clapping for a few lines that no one else was going for.

I'm not quite the North Carolina connoisseur, but I think Fayetteville/Cumberland Co. is, politically, pretty "dead." Reminds me of my time at ECU...the most passionate issue you could get students involved in was when they tried closing the downtown bars earlier. Beyond that...

Again, half of the audience was local elected big-wigs, and I have no idea what gets them excited (besides getting to run unopposed...burn!). As with most things, I think it takes a "young crowd" to liven things up. Even though I was in professionalism mode (people in the audience know my parents!), even I let loose when Anderson Cooper arrived. C'mon...it's Anderson Cooper (though I did see in the news today that he has skin cancer, sad...wonder if this will bring up stories about Sen. McCain?).

So, I don't think it was any stereotypes about why the audience wasn't alive, except that politics just doesn't "flow" in Fayetteville, all that much. I only hear tales about other cities with activism and high political interest...maybe they are only make-believe like elves, gremlins, and Eskimos.

Bonus points for Anderson Cooper story

I laughed at that part! And from an Obamabot to a Clintonista, thanks for the help with the crowd :-)

I don't know too much about Fayetteville, but I can see your point. I suspect Chapel Hill and other campus areas are all fired up. Cary seems to have a healthy amount of new bumper stickers visible on my drive to work. No more Ron Paul homemade signs that were everywhere this winter though. Wonder why ;-)

I wish those folks

at UNCC will get motivated.
They have Anderson Cooper to get motivated tonight, but if Obama is too afraid to come to the campus of UNC Charlotte, they should keep this in mind.

I hope this is a turning point. REGISTER those folks, let them vote there (at Univ. Library).

That part of Charlotte is Dem Friendly! Let people know this!

Give Raleigh the proverbial finger, they give us, when appropriations are made.

I bet Clinton will ACTUALLY come to UNC Charlotte and will not let AC make those people feel important.

They do register in presidential years

It skews GOTV in all other years. They do not vote in any but pres years.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

GOTV at UNCC

We have a GOTV coalition here in Mecklenburg and would love some people from UNCC to get involved. Our coalition has groups as varied as the Teamsters to Planned Parenthood. We also have HELP, Charlotte Apartment Association, Alpha Phi Alpha, Homeless Helping Homeless and many others.

We are trying to get a polling place on campus so any help on that front from campus orgs would be appreciatted.

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy