I generally try to avoid politicians. They mostly say what they think I want to hear--and they are always wrong because what I want to hear that they are going to get the government to leave me alone and give me back my tax dollars.
That being said, I decided that since I am married to a wonderful woman who happens to be a Democrat that I would buy her a politcal present--tickets for the cheap seats to the Barack Obama rally here in the People's Republic of Charlottesville last night. (We had managed to miss the earlier and much pricier "Conversation with Hillary Clinton" when she came to town in September.)
In any case, the tickets were so cheap that we didn't get any seats, but instead stood for about 3 and a half hours as the temperatures fell toward freezing. Since Charlottesville is a university town, the crowd was amply supplied with students. My guess is that racial make up of the attendees was about 90 percent white and 10 percent black.
I went with vague hopes that Obama would surprise me. For the most part he didn't
Just before Obama showed up, the campaign passed out posters with the campaign slogan "Change We Can Believe In." The Illinois Senator was introduced by Virginia's Gov. Tim Kaine who early on had endorsed him for president. Below is a list from my notes of many of the promises Obama made to the crowd.
"The reason you folks are here is because you are sick and tired of George W. Bush."
"You are sick and tired of an administration that treats the Constitution as a nuisance to be avoided."
"You are tired of lack of progress on critical issues like health care and energy and education."
"Most of all, you are tired of a war that should have never been authorized." (the crowd roars)
"Every person in America will have heath care as good as mine and a world-class education for every American child." That education would be achieved by requiring pre-K schooling and by recruiting "an army of new teachers." He promised the teachers that he would "work with them, not against them." (covers NEA base)
He also promised to make college affordable for every student and set up "national service opportunities to help pay off student loans." (students roar)
"Some people in Washington are saying that Americans should elect me because I know how to work the system. The problem is that the system hasn't been working for Americans." (not so veiled attack on Hillary Clinton).
"I have the willingness to take on the special interests; to get money out of politics; and make Congress accountable to you not lobbyists. (money out of politics? This from a politician who has raised $75 million for this contest.)
Among other things that he said the Obama administration would do is achieve energy independence, corporate average fuel economy standards for automobiles to 40 miles per gallon. (same promises since Richard Nixon)
"First thing I will do is bring our boys and girls home from Iraq."
"There is no military solution to Iraq; there is only a political solution."
"I may not have the experience that Washington likes, but I have the experiece that America needs."
"I've been called a hope peddlar, a hopemonger. I stand guilty as charged."
"I want to break the fever of fear that has come to dominate our politics."
"We will go after Al Qaeda; we will lock down loose nuclear weapons around the world. Close Guantanamo and restore habeas corpus. We do not ship people off to tortured in other countries." (hope so)
"When I am president I will wake up every single day thinking about how I can make your lives better." (please just leave me alone)
Obama's visit to our town was quite profitable. The local paper reported:
Organizer James B. Murray said the gathering was the largest paid crowd that Obama has drawn anywhere as a presidential candidate and noted that the fundraiser out-raised Clinton's previous Charlottesville total of $200,000 by more than $100,000.
The crowd seemed to like what they heard. And why not? A lot of the rally speech is just a long list of promises without any price tags attached.