Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mrs. Obama at North Side High

I was able to attend the lecture given by Michelle Obama last Friday, and let me tell you....that chick is freakin' awesome! Not only is she every bit the orator that her husband is, but her dry wit and humor was refreshing, setting everyone at their ease, and wooing even the skeptical to her side as the hour-long speech progressed.

She began with how the litmus test of her husband's presidential run has changed with each victory. At first, no one believed he could raise money. Check. Then no one thought he could rouse a viable political team. Check. Then Iowa became the bar. Check. Then New Hampshire...which although going to Clinton, the Obama's saw as a major victory in a Clinton stronghold by finishing only a few points down. Then Super Tuesday. Check. She even quipped that Barack promised her it would be decided one way or the other on that day. She likes to tease him about that!

This theme of the bar always being just out of reach and constantly moving was tied to her pitch that Americans feel the same way. Times have changed so much that most don't feel there is any way to reach the bar because it's so high.....and if you're one of the priveledged few who can reach it, the dumb thing moves on ya just as you reach out to grab it.

She also took issue with the idea that they are 'elitist' when in fact they both came from very humble beginnings. Barack, the black child of a white single teenage mom in the midwest in the 60's (no silver spoons there) and herself from a working class home under the skybridge into Chicago on the south side (she said when her family got the rare chance to drive out of the neighborhood, riding on the skyway felt like going to heaven..."Yippee! We're goin' to Gary!") She went to public schools growing up, and had to finance her college completely. She asked how many presidents are just a couple years out from paying off college loans!? She mentioned the only reason they are out of debt is because Barack wrote two best-selling books. Certainly not from political ways and means.

Michelle said one of the most important reasons she supports her husband (remarking "I've got your back" to a standing ovation) is because she wants others to know what is possible for them when they look at the Obamas. They didn't grow up with money or priveledges. They got where they are by hard work, integrity and hope for better things. She underscored Obama's choices early in life to work in one of the poorest communities on Chicago's south side instead of making his millions in a big-time law firm. The value of being our neighbor's keeper must come back to the forefront, she argued. And the reason they try hard not to participate in the 'slash and burn' politics is because they were taught not to burn bridges because you may need that person in the future ('nother standing ovation).

I was happy to hear her clarify the whole 'Obama wasn't even in the US Senate to vote yea or nay on the war' dealio. In fact, he was in the Illinios state senate in the middle of a tenacious battle for a US Senate seat against a billionaire businessman and a family dynasty. He came out against the 'dumb war' when it possibly meant political suicide. It was more risky for him in that situation than in the comfy, insulated Senate chambers in Washington.

In all, she argued he was the 'real deal'. He is what he says he is. And the 'experience' arguement doesn't take into account the things her husband has done outside the public eye. He has never been one to brag about his 'behind the scenes' work on behalf of the needy, or his choices to take the low road.....and so these experiences are not reported. Michelle's dad taught her that the measure of a person is the choices they make when no one is watching. That is why she believes Obama is the best choice for the next President of the United States.

She ended with a touching story of a young African American girl approaching her after a rally for Barack in South Carolina. In a slow southern draw, the little girl said "Mrs. Obama? Did you know that if your husband becomes the President it will be his-tor-i-cal?" Michelle laughed and agreed....then asked what that means to her. The little girl teared up, then began sobbing so hard she couldn't speak. At first Michelle couldn't understand this reaction....but slowly began to see "this little girl gets it". She understands what's at stake....especially for the young, the poor, the forgotten. What a gift to give such a little girl the inspiration and HOPE that things really CAN be different. Michelle then asked us to close our eyes and imagine Barack placing his hand on the bible and taking the oath of office. (I started crying.)

It was a highlight of my 40 years, truly, to hear this devoted wife, every bit as intelligent and articulate as her spouse, so expertly express why Barack Obama is our best HOPE for the future. What a priveledge to see the future First Lady!
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Blogger Angie said...

Thanks for posting this Cindy. I was sorry to miss her speak and I appreciate your excellent description of the event. Thanks again!

2:09 PM, May 02, 2008  

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