I was ready to give up but Hildred hooked me up with a volunteering job as a usher.
I draw the short end of the straw though because I was designated with 3 other guys to organize the queue of supporters outside. The catch was that the rain was coming down like the Vietnam scene in Forrest Gump and the Shawshank escape combined. Of course, none of us had an umbrella. We cannot complain though because the people at the front of the queue were there 4 hours before the speech and drove from St-Louis. An estimated 2,800 people were in attendance.
(Three of the 5 volunteers who got soaked for Obama)It was still the longest 1h1/2 ever. A wet shirt contest is really not that sexy when it's +5 Celsus and everyone is playing piano with their teeth. People were so numb from the rain and cold, I was telling them that 3 other gates were available and they just stared at me with a blank expression, not too sure if they still had feeling in their toes.
Thank goodness it was worth the wait.
A strong emphasis on education ( big surprise , we were in a university town after all) and why it was fiscally and morally irresponsible to stay in Iraq. He emphasized that withdrawal will not be easy and that the army might probably leave Iraq with much unsolved issues. However, he pointed out that if after 7 years, they were not able to solve the issues, nothing indicated that they could by staying longer. The speech was good but the Q&A's were more entertaining and revealed more about Obama.
Q: What do you make of the critics of your opponent that says you are all about beautiful speeches and no action ?
Obama: Funny how that criticism is not heard as often anymore. It's because she knows it does not work. I have proven myself at every level of public services. The essence of inspiring with words is the belief that actions can produce change, that politics does not have to be done they way that it is done until now. I have been campaiging for 15 months now, trust me, I too sometimes get tired of hearing myself talk. I would gladly take a vow of silence but this election is about getting as many people involved as possible in the most important elections of our time.
Obama: Lady , up there on the balcony, you have a question to ask it seems.
Lady (waiving from the balcony): me ?
Obama (smiling): yes, you. I called on you because I thought you were going to jump off that balcony the way you waived so hard.
Lady: What will be the biggest challenge for you when you are in office ?
Obama: I am not going to lie. Implementing change is hard. We will disagreee, many times, but I can promise you that I will listen to you and I will work work hard for you. One thing that needs to change is the habit that we have of giving carte blanche to our president. Hold your president accountable for their action.
Boy: What do you think of the Kyoto protocol and would you consider Al Gore in your cabinet?
Obama: I guarantee you that if I ever get into a position of forming a cabinet, I will invite Al Gore to participate in any capacity he wants to serve. We have been exchanging many ideas and many of his proposals are integrated in our plans. The Kyoto agreement is not perfect but instead of opposing it, we should have kept working towards perfecting it. This approach is true for most foreign policy. We need to start listening to others' point of view.
Finally, check out the video we took of Obama's shaking hands with volunteers and supporters. You can clearly hear : "I love you Barack" ( it was not me, it was a good friend of mine).
Now compare this to Sarkozy's infamous mixing with the crowds. You can clearly hear: " touches moi pas, tu me salis " ( Don't touch me. You soil me) followed by Sarkozy answering " casse toi alors, pauvre con" ( p..off, then. Jerk).
Now I know that's not fair. I know. One has shown he can stand the pressure of being president. The other one is Sarkozy. ( Too easy ? Oh darn ...)