Sunday, March 11, 2007


Obamarama Hits Iowa

This weekend Barack Obama made five campaign stops in Eastern Iowa - Dubuque, Clinton, Davenport, Muscatine, and Burlington. Although I currently live in Illinois, I grew up in Muscatine. My family still lives there and as luck would have it, Sen. Obama's stop was practically in my in'laws' back yard. It only seemed logical that I would go.


Things started on Monday when it was announced that Sen Obama would be visiting Eastern Iowa. My sister e-mailed me about the event, so I looked it up in the local paper. The event would take place in the gymnasium where my wife went to junior high and they were expecting over 200 people to attend. They were a little off.

According to the online information, the doors were supposed to open at 10:00. To be sure I got a good seat, I wanted to get there early. Well, daylight savings time screwed me up and I didn't get there until 9:20. However, the doors were already open and as it turned out I got a pretty good seat anyway. At this point, there were approximately 200 chairs set up on the gymnasium floor. By 10:45, the bleachers were entirely full as were all of the chairs on the floor and they had begun bringing in more chairs. By 11:00 when the local Democrats were opening the event, the staff had brought in somewhere between 50 and 100 extra chairs and there were at least 100 people standing along the walls. In the end, I would estimate that there were at least 1,500 people in attendance. According to the local papers, this had been happening at the other events, as well. The Telegraph Herald in Dubuque estimated 2,700 people while the Quad City Times claimed 3,700 in Davenport. (No official numbers on the Clinton appearance, but a local discussion forum claims that there were people who had to stand outside and watch through the windows.)

Finally, after an introduction from the local officials, the good Senator entered the room to a standing ovation.

He spoke of progressive issues like energy independence, wage inequality, education reform and funding, and, of course, ending the war in Iraq. This last topic received the most vigorous applause. He spoke for twenty to thirty minutes then took quesstions. He said he was going to take three, he ended up taking five. The topics included what his plans were if he didn't get the nomination, his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan, government waste, "Don't ask - Don't tell," and a question concerning the wording of a report that one of his oversight committees approved. He didn't have all the answers (more on this later) but he was open and attentive and never appeared defensive or evasive.

At the end of the event he announced that he would stay right where he was and shake hands, sign autographs, and take pictures for as long as he could. Luckily, I was the last person to get anything signed. He signed my copy of Dreams from My Father just before one of his aides took the Sharpie away from him and said that they needed to hurry up.


Living in Illinois, I've been to an Obama campaign event before. I've heard the term "Rock Star" applied to him on many occasions and I have to say - it fits. When he enters the room, the electricity is palpable. He is completely at ease in front of an audience. He doesn't give speeches at these events, he simply talks to everyone in the room. No notes. No teleprompters. No lectern. Just talk. He jokes, he laughs, he's self-deprecating, he's humble. However, he's confident and honest. I never feel like I'm being fed a bullshit answer. For example - I mentioned earlier that he didn't have all of the answers to the questions the audience asked. In particular, the one question about the wording of a particular report. His answer? "I don't know." He honestly said "I don't know." Where most politicians would give a bullshit answer that danced around the question without ever answering it, Obama said "I don't know." He then told the woman who asked the question to give her name and contact information to his aides and he would find out the information for her as soon as he got back to Washington and had a chance to look over the report in question. I don't know about anyone else, but I find that type of honesty refreshing.

In 2004, the Republicans enjoyed saying that America would rather have a beer with George W. Bush than with John Kerry. I guess that's supposed to mean something. I don't want to have a drink with my president. I just want him to be honest and trustworthy. (To say that the current administration has fallen short on the honesty front would be the understatement of the century.) As far as I'm concerned, the Republicans can have their President Blutarsky. I'm looking for an Atticus Finch, myself. In my honest opinion, Obama is it. He's the real deal. He's honest, intelligent, and respectable. God knows these qualities are severely lacking in our current leadership. I know that there are some people here who aren't sold on Obama. To those of you I say give him a chance. His policies are sound, his attitude is positive, his character is unimpeachable and his honesty is refreshing. If you can make it to a campaign stop, do it.

I hope this is helpful to anyone who may be on the fence about Obama. To close, I've got a few more pictures I'd like to share.

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