Monday, February 04, 2008

Yes, We Can - The Barack Obama Movement at Pauley Pavilion

"Before the Obama rally at UCLA got into full swing, giant screens showed a video by of the Black Eyed Peas. A visually diverse lineup of stars — the actresses Scarlett Johansson and Amber Valletta; the rapper Common; the singer John Legend; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — recited and sang along with a film of Mr. Obama’s speech the night he lost the New Hampshire primary."

Andrew Rosenthal in the New York Times writes "before the closest thing America has ever had to a national primary, four extraordinary women - Michelle Obama, Caroline Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey and Maria Shriver - put on the best campaign rally I’ve seen in 20 years of covering presidential politics."

"The pitch-perfect event in U.C.L.A.’s Pauley Pavilion started like every other Barack Obama event — chants of “yes we can” and signs pitching the power of hope. Certainly, in that moment at the rally, the Obama campaign seemed to have a monopoly on what is hip, young and glamorous in California."

I was at the event and it was a remarkable vision of the not too distant future. The crowd was diverse and committed and passionate. We sat and discussed reasons why we believe Barack Obama needs to be our next President:

This is not about gender or skin color; this is about the right person for the job. Barack Obama is brilliant as Oprah Winfrey asserted at the rally and he is talented and importantly - Obama is a 21st century man. He has a global sensibility while being grounded as an American. His mother was a white woman from Kansas, his father was Kenyan, and his step father was Indonesian. Obama has experienced the challenges of being a son of an immigrant. Born in Hawaii, Obama went on to attend an Indonesian-speaking elementary school in Jakarta, then back to Hawaii to attend the prestigious Punahou School from 5th grade through High School. He attended Occidental College, Columbia University, and graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude. He became president of the Harvard Review and could have gone on to take any top paying job in the nation. Instead he chose to be a community organizer and civil rights attorney in Chicago.

This man cares deeply and knows deeply what he stands for. He has been in the trenches and, this, combined with his brilliance probably made him one of the best lecturers at the University of Chicago Law School, where he taught for 11 years before being elected to the senate. Obama has what it takes to be a leader.

obama rally at ucla

Also, as sad as it is, we need to admit that a powerful and sizable section of our country HATES Hillary Clinton, they LOATHE her. They will do anything to keep her out of office. The mother of a friend of mine was a Clinton appointee in his last administration. Their family is close and very supportive to the Clintons. Her daughter recently said to me on the phone that, from her vantage point, these ‘anyone-but-Hillary folks’ are plentiful and they “hate Hillary, more than the devil himself!”

We need to admit this and not pretend it will go away. It won’t. Hillary is seen by many as divisive. Our country needs to be reunited, not further divided. Obama is not just brilliant, he is able to unite. He is strong, smart, and he is inspiring. He will surround himself with the best, the most experienced, and the brightest to serve our nation.

I agree with the political commentators recently featured on Charlie Rose: “this isn’t about a campaign, this is about a movement”.

Yesterday at Pauley Pavilion the movement was in full swing. The crowd screamed with shocked delight when Maria Shriver, wife of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, walked onstage and into the Barack Obama campaign.

Caroline Kennedy at Obama Rally
During the rally at UCLA, Caroline Kennedy urged the crowd and voters across the country to “step out of your lives and into this moment in history.” This moment in history is our country embracing the candidacy of Barack Obama. This is our country walking forward together inspired by the words and sacrifices of Rosa Parks, JFK, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Yes, We Can!

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