Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Barack Obama: Rock Star!!!

I witnessed something fairly phenomenal earlier this evening. My wife Jo and I drove downtown to attend an Obama rally, the last prior to Tuesday's primary election. We hemmed and hawed about whether to stop someplace for dinner on the way, but decided to drive by the venue - the American Legion Mall - to see how things looked. This was at around 6PM. The gates were not to open until 7:30. Already there were several thousand people lining up and otherwise milling about in Veterans Memorial Park immediately south of the Mall. We decided to skip dinner and park as near as possible to get into the mix. Walking back to the Mall, we did manage to snare a couple of hot dogs and cans of soda on the way.

There were two separate lines. The line nearest to us as we entered the park and by far the shortest was only for people holding red tickets. Alas, we had no red tickets and could not ascertain just how or where those fortunate few got them. The other, longer line was for all forlorn unticketed souls - the "great unwashed," as it were. So, after snarfing down our drinks and dogs, we started wending our way as directed toward the end of the unticketed line. We never found it. It snaked south out of the park, across Michigan Street and down Pennsylvania Avenue, eventually, we later discovered, reaching Washington Street over seven blocks away. For a time we thought about sitting on a concrete wall at the World War Memorial a little south of the Mall just to listen, rather than test our mettle waiting on line. However, the weather threatened and my ripped-up knee complained - actually screamed at me - to quit this craziness. We left. (I know — fair weather fans.)

Later, we watched a webcast of Obama's speech in the comfort of our humble digs. The speech he gave offered little that was new. It was essentially his stump speech. That wasn't the phenomenon. It was that line.

A few days ago, Obama filled the Indiana University Assembly Hall in Bloomington with around twelve to fifteen thousand people. An earlier rally at the same facility for Clinton garnered her only about thirty-five hundred admirers. I figured that it could be a little crazy at this rally, but I didn't anticipate what we found.

The American Legion Mall is just an open, level, grassy expanse in the middle of downtown Indy that can accommodate something in the area of twenty-five thousand people. Before Obama hit the stage the Mall filled up and many were ultimately turned away. There were, I would estimate, another three or four thousand people settled in the areas surrounding the Mall. I should add that Stevie Wonder played prior to Obama's entrance which may have enticed some to make the effort to attend the rally. But that's nothing unusual. I understand that McCain has the surviving members of Lawrence Welk's "Champagne Music Makers" perform a little "get down" music prior to his rallies.

Seriously though, this rally was a "happening." I would be very surprised if either Clinton or McCain could muster a crowd even remotely as large as that Obama managed tonight. Whether the results from either Indiana or North Carolina prove to be definitive is, as I write, unknown. But, if the crowd that came in support of Barack Obama this evening translates proportionally into votes, Clinton, McCain, and all those in their respective camps had better get ready to duck. Obama just might be the next shot heard round the world - or at least around the country.

Barack Obama is a rock star!


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