Monday, February 11, 2008
Obama in College Park
Barack Obama held a rally at the University of Maryland today. In my four years at College Park, I can't think of any event that was as hyped as this. You really had to see it with your own eyes to believe it: a line that stretched a mile long on a bitterly cold, windy Monday morning, full of people--students willing to miss class, older people dodging work and fighting traffic--excited to see a politician. There have never been lines like this for any speaker, concert, or basketball game in my time on campus.
The Comcast Center was packed with at least 15,000 people by my estimate. Obama was greeted with something just short of messianic fervor. Although I am not easily impressed, as he entered the building, I was definitely moved.
It's too bad, then, that I was let down by what followed. Although he is a very gifted speaker, he gave a standard stump speech that mostly seemed to just spit out bullet points as if lifted from a pamphlet. It didn't show off Obama's best asset: his ability to relate to ordinary people. Several friends of mine, Obama sympathizers or supporters, agreed.
By comparison, when I saw Mike Huckabee on campus Saturday, he was charming and engaged the audience very well. I know Obama could have better tailored his speech for the largely college-age crowd. Then again, he doesn't have to try too hard since he has MD (plus DC and VA) locked up for tomorrow's primaries.
Regardless, it didn't matter. The adoring crowd still roared its approval for everything he said. As I exited the building afterward, I heard a girl on her cellphone say that she had cried during Obama's speech because she was so moved. I don't get why, but wow...
I'm still of the opinion that Barack Obama would be a very good president and I want him to do well. But, like I said in my most recent Diamondback column, I don't know if his charisma, intelligence, and values are enough to convince me to vote him. When it comes to major issues, like the war on Iraq, I disagree with Obama. I am very tempted to vote for John McCain.
Currently my status is firmly undecided, and I hope I can take my time over the summer to make a choice.
All photos and video by Jay Nargundkar.