Saturday, October 18, 2008

Obama in Roanoke

Finally yielded to Obama-mania yesterday and went with three friends to the noon rally in Roanoke. The Civic Center was filled with 8000 keyed-up supporters, all of us having been part of a loooong (but steadily moving) line in a light rain to get in. As we drove by at 10:30, the line of umbrellas circled the arena; the lot was full and the signs directed us to a parking garage on the other end of the city. Our hearts sank a bit, but the shuttle buses were plentiful and constant, and informative volunteers were posted at every spot along the way in where confusion might have set in. We made it into our seats by 11:15, when the only section unfilled was directly behind the speakers. My friends were disappointed, but I consoled them with a Chicago-style slogan: "He's just as fine from behind."

As I've read about so many Obama rallies elsewhere, this one was well organized, started on time, and delivered the goods from start to finish. You know it's going to be high-energy when the opening invocation gets applause! [One organizing opportunity was missed, though: the Obama staffer's brief remarks should have included the address of the Roanoke office, not just the street it's on.]

The crowd was everybody: old, young; black, white; latte-sippin' liberals from Lexington, rotund rednecks from Roanoke County, and everybody in between. Jim Webb, who'd also done four events the previous day from the tip of SW Virginia to just south of Roanoke, delivered a warm, pointed intro. The roar that greeted Obama took things to a whole new level.

Obama spoke for 45 minutes. He's mighty good. I can't believe anyone can do this day after day for so long and show so little strain -- just a hint of exhaustion right after the speech and before the hand-shaking on the way out. I wish for his sake and ours that there were only a few more days to go.

There were some excellent bits added to the prepared remarks. Obama can be truly funny when he abandons presidential dignity for a few moments and puts his body and voice into it. He did that in comparing the McCain campaign's account of its health care proposal to "those prescription drug ads; you've seen 'em on TV. At the beginning people are running around in a sunny field and everybody's so happy... and then near the end you get [lower-register stern voice] 'Side effects may include...'" Everyone cracked up and and we all, Obama included, basked in the unexpectedly delightful moment before he got back to being Mr. Seriously Hopeful Change We Need.

My favorite part of the speech was near the end. Some of us had begun to tune out a bit as the candidate moved through a list of spending promises and then into the rote "I will go through the entire federal budget, page by page, line by line, and eliminate programs that don’t work and aren’t needed...". But then came the kicker: "We’ll start by ending the war in Iraq." The crowd burst to its feet and let loose. We'll hold you to that, guy. My carmates are part of the growing consensus that Obama's approach to Afghanistan is wrong, wrong, wrong and will only get us in further over our heads, so we're expecting to have to keep pushing unpleasant truths on the new administration.

But before that can happen, we're in for a long seventeen days. One important effect of the rally should be to mollify the Roanoke black community's concerns about local leaders not being involved or included enough in the campaign, potentially hurting getting-out-the-vote. They got earlier notice than most about the possible appearance, and clearly responded.

We still feel the urge to pinch ourselves when we read the Virginia polls, but the idea that our electoral votes will go to the Democrat seems more and more of a living possibility. Maybe we can!

Video of the speeches and comments of other attenders at Raising Kaine.
Image: myscoper



At 12:26 PM, October 19, 2008, Blogger Nell said...

There's a great slideshow of Roanoke photos in a DKos post whose main focus is the jaw-dropping rallies in Missouri yesterday.

Don't miss the slideshow at the bottom of the post of Obama phonebanking in KC after the 75,000-strong rally there. Nice to see that old familiar thermometer chart...

Another not-often-mentioned effect of the Obama campaign organization is the number of white and black volunteers working together for the first time. The level of mutual trust in the party is bound to rise, even if marginally. With hard times here and even harder times coming, that can't hurt.

At 2:07 AM, October 20, 2008, Blogger Thomas Nephew said...

Thanks for the report!

Loved that Jim Webb line about McCain's choice of Palin: "'I Know What I Was Doing, but What Was I Thinking?' " I laughed out loud when I read it.

That really is cool that Obama did some phonebanking, you know those people are going to be jazzed for the rest of the campaign.

Went canvassing with a couple of neighbors on Sunday in Woodbridge -- "the swingiest part of the swingiest state" as our canvass briefer would have it. 2d time for me, and many more home this time. Good list of "persuasion" and "sporadic" voters in that of those responding, I got 9 definitely Obama, 2 undecided,... and 0 McCain. Warner actually trailed Obama, with 4 or 5 of the 9 O+'s essentially saying "huh?" about downticket races.

At 12:08 PM, October 20, 2008, Blogger janinsanfran said...

Great that you got to go to this.

Yes -- he'll be just as good a President as we manage to make him, but the stuff that is happening around this campaign is just awesome. There are at least 3 million people who think they have a piece of him - maybe 5 million. I am awed by all the folks working on this in various ways. And what Obama can or wants to do with that over time will be important.

At 9:24 PM, October 21, 2008, Anonymous Nancy H. said...

So nice to see you more upbeat! Especially in these unsettling times. I loved your report!

At 9:51 PM, October 22, 2008, Blogger Nell said...

Hey, Nancy. Sorry I've been so silent on the garden front.

I oscillate between bleak anger and mild optimism; it would definitely help if I got out daily into the "garden" (which is a barely recognizable jungle of field grass, wild asters, and goldenrod).

Best to Bill and Jake!

At 10:27 PM, October 24, 2008, Anonymous nancy h. said...

Hey, Nell--

I follow along here with some regularity. Surely you've heard me whispering in your ear, "Oh, Nell. :( "

Have you really given up on the garden? All those gorgeous peonies, daylilies and iris! I can't keep up with mine any more either.

We should e-mail or talk. There's more binding us than the garden, I think.

Hope you and Jim are well in spite of everything.

At 3:19 PM, October 25, 2008, Blogger Sarah said...

Did he say HOW he was going to end the war in Iraq? Did he say HOW he was going to fund that health care program of his? Just curious.

At 9:47 PM, November 05, 2008, Anonymous Nancy H. said...

Way to go, Virginia!!!

At 11:11 PM, November 08, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe anyone can do this day after day for so long and show so little strain

I thought he looked a little tired in his press conference yesterday. These long campaigns must be exhausting.



Post a Comment

<< Home