Usually this kind of mass-hookie and frivolity in Austin is reserved for a special weekend in September. But yesterday, over 21,000 Austinites and Texans witnessed history Democrat Presidential hopeful Barack Obama paid the Lone Star State a visit and Dear Mr. Supercomputer had to be there. The mass hysteria and hype surrounding the Obama campaign was too much to pass up. So DSM skipped work, grabbed a couple friends, and headed down to Town Lake to take in the energy and excitement.
12:00 PM. We were all encouraged by the Obama people to take public transportation to the event. Makes sense since parking downtown is near impossible. And bus-people are way more interesting than normal people.
12:25 PM. We arrive at auditorium shores and already there’s a large contingent of people even though Obama isn’t going to be appearing for another three hours. By the way, you know you’re not 26 anymore when you are as excited about a political event as you are for a concert festival.
1:45. So maybe the festival comment was apropos. Some band called The Heathens are playing roots rock to the group of youthful political activists. I’m pretty convinced this is 100 times more people than the Heathens have ever played for. And probably a trillion times more black people than the Heathens have ever played for.
Seriously, say what you want about Obama’s inexperience, but this is easily the most racially diverse crowd that you could possible imagine, much less assemble, in Austin. I cannot imagine Mitt Romney being able to bridge racial divides like Obama is apparently able to do. Is that enough to warrant a vote? Honestly, maybe.
2:10. As the Heathens exit stage right, they are replaced by Cyril Neville and his band who migrated to Austin after Hurricane Katrina. He’s wearing a shirt that says “Ethnic Cleansing in New Orleans.” This should be fun.
2:45. It is fun. The Neville band is so fun it almost makes you forget that you came to hear a Democrat make a speech. It starts to rain a bit off and on, but luckily we have “Obama ‘08” signs to shield our carefully disheveled hair from the precipitation.
3:00. Cyril Neville finishes up. We are all anxiously awaiting The Arrival. I wonder if people would be this excited to see John Edwards. (that was a joke)
3:10. OBAMA IS IN THE HOUSE!!!! Major energy. Major excitement. Lots of sign waving. Lots of “O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!” chants. Camera’s going off like crazy. Ash suggests that we’re about to have a Beatlemania-like epidemic of girls passing out.
3:15. Barack is genuinely impressed by the crowd. “Unbelievable” he utters several times. Let’s compare: ~15,000 at his official announcement rally in his home state of Illinois vs. 22,000 at a rally in the deep South. Hell yeah, Austin!
3:20-4:15. The speech is pretty much what you’d expect. He hits all the high points of things that Democrats are going to be saying over the next year and a half: energy independence, support for schools, universal health care, and of course, stopping the war in Iraq. The highlight for Dear Mr. Supercomputer is Obama’s discourse on Dick Cheney: that he said we’d be greeted as liberators, that he said that the insurgency was in it’s last throes, and that he probably said it was going to be sunny in Austin today. Fucking brilliant. So much so that Dear Mr. Supercomputer can’t help but exclaim, “Dick Cheney is a prick!”
(As an aside, in Cobra II about the Iraq War, Cheney is dubbed, “the most powerful vice president in history.” It’s probably true too. I think Obama referred to Cheney more than president Bush, which should blow your mind.)
4:16. Then it happened. After he finishes his speech, Obama begins shaking hands with all the supporters there. He’s getting closer. Closer. There’s a push towards his direction. He’s shaking hands. Shaking hands. He hugs the person directly in front of me. He reaches out to the dozens of outstretched hands and….
I GET CURED OF MY PARALYSIS!!
OK, not really, but he squeezed like three hands at once, one of them being the hand of Dear Mr. Supercomputer. I can barely move.
My only regret is that he only briefly mentioned American energy independence. Clearly energy independence isn’t as galvanizing as the war in Iraq, though in DMS’s opinion, as or more important in the long run. Obama did touch on it, astutely suggesting that “we are supporting both sides of the War on Terror” due to our oil guzzling ways. And that he refers to the current regime’s “lack of an energy policy.” I hope as time goes by the Obama campaign will lay out a comprehensive energy policy that will allow us to be energy independent within 30 years.
While DSM isn’t ready to give a full endorsement a year and a half before the presidential election, it’s hard to imagine desiring to vote for anyone else. While Obama is surely inexperienced as far as Washington goes, isn’t that a good thing?
(Update: Major props to Hans Klinger, spokesman for the Republican Party of Texas for getting douchebag-of-the-month for his statement about the event:
From the Austin American Statesman:
“Not every politico is intrigued. Hans Klingler, spokesman for the Republican Party of Texas, likened the hubbub to preparations for Austin's annual celebration of Eeyore, a character from A.A. Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh" stories. Austin "famously celebrates the birthday of a donkey from a children's book every year," he said, "so this sort of makes sense."”)