Today I drove down to Birmingham to see and hear U.S. Senator and Presidential Candidate Barack Obama in the Bartow Arena on the UAB campus. It was a capacity crowd with a lot of young people; I guess that should be expected in a university setting, but it still took me a little off guard. He is erudite and personable; a realistic idealistic pragmatist. And I believe I feel the same way that Caroline Kennedy, JFK's daughter, said she felt in her endorsement yesterday of Obama. She said that he is the first candidate to ever make her feel the way people tell her that her father made them feel about a Presidential candidate.
(Click on the links to see the snapshots that I took.) He was introduced by the local congressman, Artur Davis. Davis, representing Alabama's seventh district which includes Birmingham, is currently the only African American Congressman (or Senator) from Alabama. The historic relevance of this Congressman and this Candidate sharing the spotlight in this city did not go unremarked. All the same, it was a diverse crowd that cheered plans for ending the war in Iraq, increasing the national focus on education and healthcare, for open honesty in Washington D.C. and for an end to the era of George W. Bush and his cronies.
Obama spoke for almost an hour. And I listened to half of his audio book on the drive to and from Birmingham, "The Audacity of Hope". I enjoy listening to him talk; he has a Rod Serling-esque cadence and has an excellent command of the English language. He does not do the bumbling good ole boy that our current President does, yet he's still friendly and he can joke and tell a story: "...and everybody loves my wife Michelle. Yes, everybody loves Michelle! Hey, friend, don't be grinning THAT much...." And he riffed on "Hope": he hopes to have an Enviromental Protection Agency that protects the environment; and he hopes to have a Federal Emergency Management Agency that knows something about managing federal emergencies. And right now I hope he gets the chance.