Obama Disappointing

February 24, 2007

We attended the Barack Obama rally at Auditorium Shores in Austin, yesterday afternoon. While it was exciting to see so many people — particularly young people — mobilize for political reasons on a rainy Friday afternoon, Senator Obama’s speech was less than inspiring. Perhaps Obama was fatigued from two weeks and many speeches on the road, but most of his words seemed dispassionate and scripted. His stories seemed to wander, he stumbled on many of his words, and even though he attempted to adopt the repetitive, rhythmic oratory techniques of speakers like Rev. Jesse Jackson, he wasn’t able to keep his rhythm. (Note his omission of “Yes we can” during one of his three closing phrases.)

I will admit my expectations were high after seeing Sen. Obama’s fiery speech at the DNC a couple years ago, but I don’t think the problem was one of expectations — the crowd of 10,000-plus didn’t seem to be particularly jazzed about his presentation, either. Granted, we stood toward the back of the crowd — and the energy is always stronger at the stage — but the hundreds of people standing within earshot of us applauded politely at key points (alternative energy research, pay increases for teachers) and cheered and waved OBAMA ’08 signs at key-er points (national health care, rebuilding New Orleans, ending the war in Iraq), all without any real signs of enthusiasm or excitement. I found this surprising, because the energy vibrating among the attendees while awaiting Obama’s appearance was palpable. People came, excited about the idea of change in our government, wanting to hear Obama’s plan for a new way. He stated that he believes he can be an agent for change in Washington, but unfortunately much of his rhetoric yesterday sounded like so much Washington insiderism.

It’s very early in the election cycle, so Barack Obama still has plenty time to shore up his platform, differentiate himself from “more of the same,” and begin to imbue his speeches with heat and fire. He must do these things if he is to be victorious in November 2008.

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