Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Michelle Obama Is Just Fabulous
I Touched Obama: Babel, Barack
Domestic Violence, Equal Pay
Wife Won't Do, Got To Court Women With Policy And Outreach
War, Politics, Business
I got to meet Michelle Obama today. It was at Our Children's Foundation in Harlem on 125th Street. From 4: 30 on. I stayed a few hours, then I walked over to the Hudson, then by Hudson all the way to Times Square where I went to the dollar pizza place, then took the train home.
By now I see many familiar faces among the key volunteers, people who recognize you and who you recognize. It is a treat when the person who signs you in gives you a very familiar hello.
It was up two flights of stairs. I go in and I notice two things. One, the women are looking oh so colorful. That makes my day. These are literally women of color I am thinking. Look at the stuff they are wearing. The second thing you notice is the heat. Good thing the organizers was handing out water bottles. I proceeded to make small talk with a few people I knew, and a few people I did not. The British film crew were there. I met them at Raj's place for the MeetUp Sunday evening. Gary Younge, a Black Brit, was the leader of the team. They are going to work on the film for a year. They say it will get shown on the BBC.
Soon enough the function started. Bill Perkins' wife was the first to go. Some Law And Order star spoke. She said, "And for that one person who does not know me, let me introduce myself." That was me. I don't own a television. That is not to say I think her reference was to me at all.
Finally Michelle Obama takes the stage. She is a strong, direct, confident, determined woman. It was so obvious to me she fills some of Barack's blind spots. They compliment each other. She was dressed like a woman who was saying, forget my pretty face, listen to me talk. The model career woman that she is was in total presence. She speaked flawless.
I have now seen Barack and Michelle. I think they stand to help the world rethink its image of what it means to be black. They carry the weight of being black. They do so with pride. They do so with a little bit of glamor. They do it with ease. But they are not trying to lead a civil rights movement. They know it is a job application. They are out to prove they are the best out there. I agree.
It was amazing to watch her speak. She painted a whole canvass.
She was very aware she was in Harlem. She was at home. This was South Side Chicago to her. And this was a Women For Obama event. She went on this long detour - no, it was not that actually - about how she and her family were doing just fine, holding up, and all that. It was like these women were her aunts and relatives.
Michelle Obama matches Barack Obama pound for pound. Michelle Obama is a greater asset to Barack Obama than Bill Clinton is to Hillary. If Bill Clinton is soon too much, he is going to look like baggage, like a guy who never made peace with the fact that he was denied a third term. Michelle does not have that problem.
Folklore has it she dislikes politics. That is a plus. I think that means she is in a better position to bring in people who also dislike politics, and are all cynical about it. Her brother is on record saying she dislikes losing more. Her grit was on display. I got the impression Michelle would handle a heckler much better than Barack. Barack would pray for the heckler, and perhaps try and see the humor in the heckling, Michelle would stare him down.
Michelle does not have to feel like she is having to make up for the fact that Barack is not a woman like Hillary is. Indira Gandhi was a strong Prime Minister of India for a long, long time, and the Indian women did not really benefit. Benazir Bhutto left behind a Pakistan that was just as sexist as when she came into the picture. Hillary is not the women's salvation in America either. It is women themselves who are women's salvation. What is working for Barack in that department as in all other departments is that he has the strongest grassroots presence of anyone running for president right now. He has to work to bring in women at the grassroots and get them talking about gender issues like equal pay and domestic violence. Hillary is not a worry.
After her speech, she posed for a ton of pictures. She shook many hands. She made a lot of small talk. She did a lot of listening. And I was by her side the entire time. I wanted to take her in as much as I could. This was my first time seeing her. It might be a long time before I see her again in person.
There was this white guy Peter who she would hand over stuff to that people gave to her. So I figured he is a staffer.
"Peter, you give me a 100,000 plus strong rally in Central Park before summer is over," I said. I said twice.
"I will relay the message to the people in Chicago," he said.
After she had posed with two large groups of children, and it felt like it was now only a few minutes before she left, and the crowd had thinned, I figured now was my chance.
"You give us Iowa, we will give you New York. We will make it quick and painless for Hillary," I said.
She was giggling.
I stayed back after she left. The very last people were the people who had put the whole thing together. The worker bees.
Then I went off to the Hudson nearby.