Barack Obama’s pit stop in Dallas

Posted on February 20, 2008

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I drove into downtown around 10:30 a.m. and was retarded by the vehicular throngs. In other words, Obama traffic be makin’ me late to work. He was rallying at Reunion Arena at noon, which is next door to my job. Reunion-ward pedestrians walking from Union Station, bus stops and downtown lots swarmed Houston and Young. (What appeared to be) Barack’s suited heavies and their black SUVs were blocking our security entrance.

Even with these annoyances, the air was filled with that inevitable zing that comes from a bazillion people gathering in one place for one purpose. Wednesdays are grossly busy for me or else I might have stole away to join them. Instead, I watched the rally live online at Channel 8’s wfaa.com.

Entirely too many people spoke before Barack took the podium. Several local rally organizers said what could have been rounded up and delivered by just one of them: Early-vote today please, Y’all fire up out there?, This is a time of change y’all, Si se puede!, It’s important that you vote for Barack Obama please, Si se puede!, Y’all fired up? I think the left side is more fired up than the right side — let’s make some noise, y’all!, Si se puede!

On a stats level, the warm-up team seemed to adequately represent the faces in the crowd: A black woman, a white guy and a Hispanic man and woman. There was a bit of Spanish translation during the pre-speeches, which was great. But if there were rally-goers in the crowd who only speak Spanish and therefore need translation, then they only got moving lips from the people who mattered, like former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk and Obama himself. Maybe there was some sort of other translation that I didn’t see; who knows.

You know how typical political rally music tends to lean toward, like, Sister Sledge’s “We Are Fam-uh-LEE!” or whatever? Obama’s was a mix of typical rally fare like that and some unexpected tracks, like Bruce Springsteen’s ode ot immigrants “American Land,” and a “wha?”-inducing tune by some British chick named Natasha Beddingfield. I wouldn’t even have known who in the world she was if one of our music critics, Thor, hadn’t made a blog post about today’s rally music. But that’s what I liked about it. Barack is working the fresh-face-on-the-block angle, putting himself forth as the candidate who’s going to do things differently around here, and it’s kinda hard to sell that if all his between-speech music is the same that Hillary’s, McCain’s, or heaven forbid, Huckabee’s camps are using.

On to the point of the whole thing, Barack’s speech. It was rousing and inspirational, just like you’d expect. He was badly under the weather and he seemed like he really needed a good, long night of sleep. But he hit all the important bullet points:

• He’ll get us out of Iraq in 2009
• He’ll roll back the tax cuts Bush gave to the rich while giving cuts to the middle class
• Health insurance needs a major overhaul (duh), and folks like his late mother shouldn’t have to pore over insurance fine print while suffering from cancer and worrying if their treatment will be covered
• Kids need to be learning about music, art, poetry and science instead of being taught to pass a NCLB test
• People shouldn’t be kept from going to college because of money
• He will, essentially, set aside college funds for each child in $4,000 increments, and in order to access those funds, students will complete the circle and pay society back through volunteer work in the Peace Corps, veterans homes, low-income school districts, etc.

(Somebody please tell me if my interp butchers reality on that last one).

Charismatic, believable, urgent, hopeful, straight-shooting. If he said anything that would make potential supporters fall off the fence toward the other side, I sure didn’t hear it.

Don’t get me wrong — It’s all about HillClint for me. Is she coming to town at all? I need to check. It’d be a loss if she didn’t. On our end and hers.

You hear that Hillary? Come to Dallas! Si se puede!!

Video: WFAA Channel 8’s rally recap

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