Last night I attended President Obama's Kickoff Rally for the 2012 campaign in San Francisco. The ticket said the event would start at 5pm, but not a thing got going until 7:45. And no one there seemed to mind. I've been really sick lately so I was a bit worried about when we'd get out of there. And I couldn't partake in the alcohol that was flowing quite nicely.
First the California chair for Organizing for America took the stage and got everyone chanting the 2012 slogan, "I'm in". Next up was Jerry Rice who warmed up the crowd and emphasized teamwork. Jerry has a big heart, and is not well known as a public speaker. But it was still nice to see him there in support of our President.
Then DJ Hope and Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas took the stage. I believe it was Fergie, no one introduced her, but it was clearly someone with a lot of talent. (My other guess was Alicia Keyes). She performed six or seven songs to a receptive crowd, and spoke about how women's right to choose was under attack.
Just before 9pm, David Plouffe took the stage and gave the crowd some hearty encouragement. And moments later, the commander and chief entered the stage to thunderous applause and more than a few cat calls. "Sexy" must have been screamed out five times.
The President gave one of his typical heartfelt speeches. Barack ran through what they've accomplished in the last two and a half years. And then he discussed where we're going now. He didn't mention the Ryan plan by name but stated that some people think we've hit the end of the road. That America can no longer do big things and that we need to shrink our ambitions. The President made it clear that that would not be happening on his watch.
Next, the President addressed his supporters that have become dissatisfied. Someone screamed out "singlepayer." He sort of separated the disenchanted into two categories. Some he kind of shrugged off as expecting too much. He said that "everyone's a political consultant now." And there were people who believe that "if we had just phrased it like this, we'd have gotten healthcare done in two months. You know who they are." But mostly he empathized with those that were frustrated by a lack of progress. He said it really bothered him too and sometimes... ::he paused:: he really felt ::searching for a word:: burdened by the fact that even though things are going better, it's not enough for so many people. He recounted the letters that he receives from children who's parents' homes are being foreclosed upon. It was a really emotional moment, and it seemed like it was one of the major messages he wanted to get out there. The idea that change is difficult, and he knows we haven't gotten everything we wanted, and that frustrates him too.
The President touched upon the high cost of gas, and described how the payroll tax cut he gave out was mostly being eaten up by higher costs. This is where I was hoping he'd mention speculators, but instead he spoke about investments in renewable energy. But it appears today he's having the Justice Department look for fraud in the oil markets.
"The Attorney General's putting together a team whose job it will be to root out any cases of fraud or manipulation in the oil markets that might affect gas prices - and that includes the role of traders and speculators. We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain," Obama said.
All in all it was a great experience. The $25.00 ticket price (for those of us under 40, although some people in our section clearly weren't) was 1/3rd of what I paid to see Conan O'Brien at the Nob Hill Masonic Center. And I have to say, I enjoyed myself more and laughed just at much. I hope the President will continue to go out and speak to the people like Harry Truman did in 1948. When all the pundits had written Harry off he went to the people and made his case. I'd also like it if the President followed with the Give Em Hell focus that President Truman had. He certainly was on fire last week when he shredded the reverse robin hood plan of Paul Ryan. I hope to see a lot more of that.
Crossposted from the Progressive Electorate
UPDATE: I guess it wasn't Fergie that sang (I read that on another blog post). The singer that performed was Goapele (http://en.wikipedia.org/...).