Presidential Moments

Obama is landing in Austin today, ostensibly to host a fundraiser for the DNC. He'll also be giving a speech at UT about higher education, which I'm lucky enough to be attending. Be sure to follow me on Twitter here for photo updates and after-thoughts (I won't be live-tweeting his speech - tacky unless you're in the press box).

Obama has been to Austin before, but this will be his first appearance as President. It's been a long time coming. In honor of that, and the hard work that so many Austinites have put into Obama's campaign and first year and a half in office, I thought I'd round up some of my favorite Obama posts from speeches and historic moments over the last few years.

Feb. 2007: An Open Letter to the Obama '08 Campaign
I understand that Obama represents everything I want to have changed. But what I was looking for in the speech yesterday was whether he was willing to fight to have this world changed. I wanted to be inspired to continue to writhe in verbal wars against Republicans at parties and wave flags on 6th Street and write "Tony Snow is an idiot" postings on my blog. I wanted someone on the stage as furious as me, unafraid to declare to the world that yes, this is a fight, and yes, it will be won.
Feb. 2008: If you believe it, he will come.
Finally he made his way around to our side. Secret Service man #1 passed by my hand, then #2, then #3. Suddenly, there was Barack Obama, standing directly in front of me, smiling, and shaking my hand. It occurred to me only later that I never thought about what I would say if I had the opportunity to shake his hand, but this is what came out of my mouth:

"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much."

And he just kept smiling and saying "You're welcome, thank you for your support." I don't know if time stood still or if I just kept a hold of his hand, but it seemed like a long handshake. His face is now burned into my mind, this amber glow of a human. Barack Obama suddenly became something I had seen and actually felt. That's a sort of humanity that you can never know until it's suddenly found.
November 2008: This is Not About Barack Obama

I’ve stared at that photo, which surfaced on my radar in the wake of his election on Wednesday morning, for minutes at a time, several times. I’ve studied the curve of his chin meeting his lip, the wrinkle carved by his smile, and the oversized watch resting on his narrow wrist. I’ve tried to peer under his eyelids, feel the crease on his shirt sleeve, and yearned to hear the thoughts in his head. I’ve shook his hand holding that ice cream cone, I’ve walked miles for the change he promises to create and I’ve cried for the hope that his presence brings.

But after all of that, after I’ve placed my entire focus on our President-elect Barack Obama, I can’t help but stare down at the spot on the counter where the napkin crumples on the laminate, wiping away some unseen impurity.

This is not about Barack Obama.

October 2009: Our One Blinding Light
As he made one President’s words his own, Obama’s greatest asset and greatest flaw became stunningly clear. Obama embodies our “one blinding light” and we simply expect him to deliver. We are too easily blinded from the reality that we are the people who elected him and that we are the ones who have the ability to change things – not him. Obama has tried to remind us -- as he said in Denver at Invesco Field in 2008, "This election has never been about me. It's been about you."

We complain that he hasn’t brought home the troops, while not bothering to do anything about it ourselves. If we truly want peace, we have to create it – not demand it, or whine about it, or wish for it. No one in the world wins the Nobel Peace Prize on their own. While the Peace Prize might have been a call to action for Obama's policy decisions, it is also a call to action for all of us.
March 2010: Reform
I never heard anyone complain about their shoes. Two days went by and every day, from sun up until sun down, we walked the streets of Albuquerque. Young and old, we walked because we believed in something that was greater than ourselves, and because we wanted to make our country a better place to live. We walked because we saw a chance to elect someone who would fight for equal rights. We walked to elect someone who would shape the future, not fear it.

We walked for nights like tonight.

1 Response to "Presidential Moments"

  • larry schnellmann Says:

    ok.. i have to say I think you misused the word obstensible.. obama visited austin in order for his minions to spin and raise money. I think Obama is a failing president. He is not seizing power. He isn't doing anything. When he said "whose ass to kick".. he didn't kick anyones ass. The health insurance thing is a farce.. companies simply pay contractors-- so that is a matter of semantics, not action. I like the man, but I want a president to work for me, not appease me.