Thursday, July 5, 2007

Shaking Hands With Our Potential Next President

[Author's Note: The preceeding title and following blog are by no means a political endorsement and shouldn't be taken as such.]

My parents are democrats, my brother a republican and I'm summer in the middle. So it was no surprise to get an email from my parents saying that Barack Obama was going to be coming to the town where I live for a rally and they wanted to stop by to see Little Abbey on their way. I told them they were more than welcome and since I had never been to a political rally of any kind, I said that I would join them.

Since I don't live far from the square we opted to carry some of those chairs in a sack and walk. When we arrived, there was a large pie shaped wedge roped off from the center gazebo with several hundred people already crowded inside. On the south side of this wedge, there was an eight-foot space with a second rope strung out and secret service guys walking back and forth. There was a table seat up at the head of the wedge where people heading into the wedge were lined up and filling stuff out. I assumed that maybe you had to be an official Obama member or something to get inside so I asked one of the secret service guys if we could sit on the south side of the two ropes. He didn't have a problem with it and so we did. Within seconds, others saw us and started doing the same and then with people lining the rope on both sides, it hit me what was actually happening. The roped on corridor was the walkway for Obama from the street to the gazebo and we had front row seats.

By the time Obama pulled up, the square was packed with a few thousand people. Obama slowly walked to the stage shaking hands as he went preceded and followed by a flock of secret service. One guy in the lead must have been responsible for checking out all the people on our side of the rope and obviously scanned us from head to toe, one by one as Obama approached us. When he got up near me he shook my hand and said, "how are you doing." Ignoring his question I replied, "thank you for coming," and left it at that.

After his detail had passed, I noticed a pen lying on the ground right on the other side of the rope where I was standing with the words Executive Representative stenciled on the side that I am certain hadn't been there a few seconds ago. So I picked it up and pocketed it. I don't know if it belonged to the secret service, his campaign groupies that were with him or Obama himself, but you can never be sure. Perhaps it might be worth something someday.

The speech itself was pretty much fluff and sounded expensive. If we invest in this, if we invest in that, for every dollar we spent, etc. I made sure that I hung onto my wallet the entire time. My parents had hoped he would answer questions but I knew he wouldn't. The crowd was full of local gurus with thousand mile stares and stumbling walks with no idea what was going on around them and probably not a good time to accept a question. He probably would have instead got lectured about how only half of one percent of the square root of the population hopping in meditation could solve all his problems.

When he finished, he hopped down from the stage and waded into the crowd smiling those very white teeth and shaking hands. We walked home discussing what we had heard and mostly disliked. When we got home, my wife was watching it live on C-Span so it any of you were watching it too, there was about 100% chance that you saw me standing there in the crowd leading up to the gazebo shaking the man's hand and eyeing the pen left on the ground behind him. It was the only real thing I took from the campaign rally, honest.

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