Yes We Can!

February 03, 2008 by susan
Obama in crowd

20,000 cheer on Obama; overflow crowd greets Romney.
Headline, Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Just so you know, Romney held his "rally" in a suburban real estate magnate's office, where he delivered a 15-minute speech to "several hundred" supporters.

Obama held his rally at the Target Center, home of the MN Timberwolves basketball team, where he delivered a 54-minute speech to 20,000 wildly cheering supporters. Thousands more -- rumor is another 20,000 -- wanted the free on-line tickets but were too late to get them. Now that's an over-flow.

I was one of the lucky ones to get tickets.
More, of course.

We parked on the edge of town and walked the last 10 blocks or so to the arena. Everywhere we looked there were ribbons of people streaming across the city towards the arena. Old people in wheel chairs, babies in back packs, black people, white people, and everything in between. People were getting off of the jam-packed light rail as well, as if heading to the world series, which, in a way, they were. A world series that changes the world.

When we got there, the lines wrapped in every direction around the building and for blocks beyond. I'm on Obama's MN finance committee, so I had a special green ticket that turned out to be about as special as maybe 5000 other green tickets which had been given to precinct coordinators and ardent volunteers.

Nevermind, the spirits in the long lines were high and the temps, by MN standards, were too. There was a foot-stomping drum and bugle corp by the front door keeping us fired up.

Every person who entered had to go through a mag detector -- belts and jewelry and coats had to come off, people got wanded if they beeped, and everyone also had their bags manually checked, so it took for frickin' ever to get inside. But once we did, we were right there on the main floor. We could have stood by the stage for the remaining three hours, or we could pass through another security point and take seats. We chose to sit.

It was a long wait. My friend Marian, who's a musician, noted that the canned corny music that all campaigns seem to go for went through at least three repeats of its loop. But it was fun to watch the entire hall gradually fill from the floor up to the rafters -- from the bottom up, not the top down, as Barack would say. And of course there was people-watching, and the inevitable WAVE and other stadium entertainments (and $4.50 water bottles, don't even think of the nachos) to keep us amused.

At around 4, Mayor Rybak, Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Betty McCollum, and the peach-fuzzed mayor of Duluth, finally took the stage to introduce Sen. Obama, who bounded up the stairs as if he had just been nominated 8th grade class president.

Wait. One more person was there. Jane Freeman, widow of former Secretary of Agriculture and MN governor Orville Freeman -- who gave the nominating speech for JFK in 1960, came on stage to introduce Barack Obama. We should all have her grace and smarts.

"Two years ago I went to the Humphrey Day dinner and heard the junior Senator from Illinois speak," Freeman told the crowd. "I read his two books and they thrilled me. I went to work supporting Obama."

In his speech, Barack revealed another bit of history. By tradition, all senators carve their names in their desk drawer when they arrive in the senate. When Sen. Obama opened his drawer, there was the name of Paul Wellstone.

The speech was long and it was a speech of some substance, not a glib 15 minute sound byte speech like Mitt delivered later in Edina. To the credit of the audience, many of whom were attending their first political event, they hung on every word and cheered wildly at appropriate moments.

It was also the most astonishingly diverse crowd I've seen in Norski MN. It was young, old, white, black, tan and immigrant folks. It was labor and CEO's, residents of Glenwood and Kenwood, gays and straights, students and teachers, babies and grandparents. And there we all were, taking a whole LONG Saturday afternoon, not to watch a sporting event or a rock concert, but to make America a better place. I haven't felt this much possibility -- and hope --in decades.
Yes we can!

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Comments

barbara says (not verified) | February 4, 2008 - 9:39am

Oh, I wish I'd been there to see Jane Freeman. She's a very neat lady (and yeah, I do mean "lady"). Orv and Jane were close friends of my parents. And so, long ago, I used to see them quite often. My mother and Orv were sweethearts before Mother met my father and Orv met Jane. An interesting friendship, since my parents were diehard Republicans. I was too young to be much interested in their political conversations, but there were lots of 'em. Once in a while, I wonder whether Orv could have saved my mother from the clutches of the right. Never a possibility for my father.

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susan | February 5, 2008 - 12:45am

And meant to say Barb, what a story of your mother and Orv! Yep, Jane was a great part of Saturday's rally. She has a presence that radiates intelligence and kindness. I wonder who had the brilliant idea to have her come up on stage to introduce Barack.
Also, forgot to say that when Barack bounded up onto the stage he zipped right past where she was standing just off the stage in the shadows. She turned to him but he skittered by. Marian and I both cringed. Once on stage he greeted the other dignitaries, and then noticed that she was missing. (She walks with difficulty and so had gone off stage before the others.) He turned to look for her, then ran back down and found her and warmly shook her hand and thanked her. Lovely gesture, and out of the eye of the media and most of the crowd, so done for no reason other than -- his mother raised him well!

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barbara says (not verified) | February 5, 2008 - 10:16am

Oh, what a lovely gesture for Jane.

You know, I'd hate to be measured against my choice of (ex) spouse. That would be the barbara exception to a barbara's school of thought about spouses being a measure of individuals in general and politicians in particular. Or, more to the point, the way the couple deals with each other and with life as an indicator of how they'll fare in public office.

Elizabeth Edwards? Oh, my. Talk about grace under fire. And what appears to be a genuine partnership with John.

Maria Shriver? Fearless in the face of the Governator. Wonder how that's working behind closed doors. Then again, she's a Kennedy. What did he expect?

Michelle Obama? Talk about not just finding one's voice but fearlessly using it. For good.

Franni Franken? A genuine partner to Al.

Bill Clinton? You know, I used to respect that man. Even after Zippergate. Now, he's a major liability to Hillary and by extension, to the nation. Sad.

Suzanne Craig (Mrs. Larry). Whatever.

Judith Giuliani. See above.

Great party game. Give it a whirl.

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betty (not verified) | February 5, 2008 - 11:55pm

Norm and his "wife" laurie

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susan | February 6, 2008 - 1:30am

Yes! Great one.

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MLS (not verified) | February 4, 2008 - 12:45pm

Susan, I loved your introductory comment contrasting the two candidates which was so cleverly expressed.
How encouraging to hear about the diversity of people at the
Target Center, how encouraging to hear that the crowd was listening and savoring Obama's words and how encouraging to learn that the Democratic party is alive and well in Minnesota.
Thank you for sharing because down here in Florida... well, I won't comment any further on that.

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Peter (not verified) | February 4, 2008 - 10:06pm

Roaming around the TV on Sunday afternoon, I stumbled on the Obama rally at UCLA. What an experience even on television. Much like the Target Center, I imagine. Oprah, Caroline (still impressed that she gave up her privacy to back Obama), Maria, but most of all, Michelle Obama. I was glued to the screen watching and listening. Thoughtful, creative, and sincere. If she ever runs for national office, count me in.

I also thougth about the candidates' partners. The contrast between the Democrats and the Republicans is unsettling. Michelle, Bill (I know, but he's a spouse, after all), and until recently, Elizabeth. The world continues to change not only because the two serious contenders for the Democratic nomination are a black male and a white woman, but because of the vital, necessary role spouses play.

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susan | February 5, 2008 - 12:30am

I saw some of that rally too and loved it. Thought Maria was the weakest of the lot, but liked her for coming out in opposition to Arnold. ("A condom stuffed with walnuts," as Molly Ivins described him.) And Michelle is just what you say. I like her so much that I almost hate thinking about what she and her family will be subjected to in the coming months. (You-know-who willing.) And in the coming years. (ditto) The contrast in the Repub and Dem spouses is stark, Peter, got that right. And it's beyond me why anyone could find anything attractive about any of the remaining Republican candidates. But then again, this is a nation that elected George Bush. Twice. Okay, once.

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