Obama's a crowd pleaser
Published: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 22:04
In the spirit of brutal honesty, I must confess that I am not Obama’s biggest fan. Despite the number of my peers who swooned over Obama in 2008, I never hopped on the button-wearing train.
I do respect Obama. I think he is intelligent, a fantastic public speaker and a slick politician. However, I have never understood why people are so enthralled by him.
His resume before the presidency it is rather sparse. After college, he became a community organizer, attended law school, taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago and then became a senator. That is fine and dandy, but does it make your jaw drop? Not mine.
When it was announced that Obama was coming to UVM, I decided to see what the hype was about. Putting my reservations aside, I joined a crowd of supporters and waited several hours for the president to arrive.
When Obama bounded across the stage, looking energetic and very much in his element, the gym was electrified with clapping, cheering and the flashes of thousands of cameras.
For the next 30 minutes, I stood spellbound by Obama’s ability to light up the room. With simple words he had people shouting “I love you!” and waving their hands in the air. He was funny, relatable and knew exactly when to speak and when to wait for applause.
Apart from the spot-on presentation, the content of the speech had its highs and lows. It was a campaign speech, so naturally he told Vermonters exactly what we wanted to hear.
But for all of Obama’s rhetoric of bipartisanship and speeches encouraging the right and left to work together, he certainly did not hold back from making gibes at the Republican Party.
When speaking on the economy, Obama mentioned the idea that “you are on your own” is what “the other side wants to do; they’ve made no secret about it. They believe that’s how American is advanced, that’s the [sic] narrow conception they have of liberty, and they are wrong.”
I am not a Republican, but this is obviously blatant propaganda that holds little meaning. It is not that clear cut; the concept of liberty varies by individual and not having the government entrenched in the economy is a valid standpoint.
At the end of the day, it was an eloquent campaign speech. It reaffirmed what Obama has said before and will certainly say again, but I can’t get rid of the feeling that it was just a flashy presentation.
In Obama’s speech, there were grand statements about problems that he hopes to tackle in another term. Did he present any concrete plans to confront these issues plaguing the U.S.? No. Other than raising taxes on the wealthy, the numerous programs and improvements he mentioned hardly seem feasible.
It was all easy listening in a nutshell. Obama has style, a positive message, and he makes you feel good about being American — a sentiment that I rarely feel. For a couple of moments, I did understand the appeal, but my opinion of him was not changed.
It is disappointing that voters are attracted to edited, glossy versions of politics. We don’t want big words, and so higher level intellectual discussions rarely make it to the campaign trail. We take our pictures, cheer and go home to think about other things.
I have no regrets about seeing Obama speak. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am grateful that UVM was able to host the president. While I wish it had been a speech with less flash and more content, it was an entertaining and memorable experience.