As it became clear that President Obama would visit SW Virginia last week, I thought I might be able to see and hear our President. But it was not to be. Though we had planned to visit SW Virginia for a wedding this past weekend (some of you will recall that my husband and I moved to NC this past spring), we would not be there for ticket distribution on Wednesday. Later we learned also that the rally would be during the time we would be at the rehearsal dinner. Even should a ticket become available, my priority was clear. I was in town for the wedding of my dear friend.
Incidentally, the bride has been very active in Democratic Party politics and previously served as Vice-Chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee. And, so, not surprisingly, a number of fellow Democrats attended the wedding this past Saturday, the day after the President’s visit. And a number of them had been to see the President.
I watched on my iPhone as the photos rolled out. It made me smile to see my friends in the Roanoke Times, on FB and in other friends’ photos. At the wedding, you could still see it on their faces. You could almost tell who gotten to shake the President’s hand. When Elaine’s diary appeared on my iPhone I put on my glasses to read the mouse print and delighted in the fact that she was one of them. And I thought, “What a difference four years makes.”
The opposition have stonewalled much of the Obama agenda and yet, as the Washington Monthly illustrates here, President Obama’s accomplishments are more than significant. In the face of so much stonewalling, they are amazing. Here we are with a compassionate, strong leader who knows and articulates what it takes to make and keep the US economically strong. He knows it because he has done it, is doing it and will do it–the right way. Oh, what a difference four years makes! Part of that difference is called experience. Another difference four years makes is the pitch-perfect campaign the President is waging. He knows what is important (jobs,especially) and he knows what barriers to economic health must be removed for America’s citizens to flourish economically. He knows (as surely as Mitt refused to admit) that trickle-down economics won’t work and never has. He knows that health care costs underlie many (around half of) personal bankruptcies. And he has set out to assure that threat to the Middle Class is ameliorated.
Virginia is still in play. That much has not changed. NC may not be, though we here in the Tar Heel state will not assume that, you can be sure.
I have not seen President Obama this election cycle. I hope I have the opportunity to do so. 2008 brought me to Lebanon, VA, with a press pass for Raising Kaine. Aside from key family milestones, it was the highlight of my life. I would see and hear our president up close. Though much of the press was quite a distance from the president at the Lebanon rally, we were rotated in closer to get photos. I have mentioned before that through the camera lens, President Obama seemed as flawless as he was to that live audience. He never missed a beat. His warm response to those asking questions his knowledge of the issues and his proposals resonated. He was in early fall of 2008, well, already presidential.
By the time he came back to SW Virginia, to the Roanoke Civic Center, that fall, where I attended a larger rally with my husband, you could feel victory in the air. It was as though the 8,000-plus supporters there knew this was an historic moment. In a few short weeks, the man we saw before us would be our president.
When I got my tickets for the President Obama’s inauguration, I could not have imagined I would spend it in the “Purple Tunnel,” where legitimate holders of Purple tickets were herded and left, denied the chance to get in because of poor planning by the Inaugural Committee, the inept gate crew, lack of staffing, and the unfortunate location of our gate within a block of an overcrowded Metro stop. At least ten thousand people with tickets never got in that day.
But this past weekend, despite my disappointment in not being able to attend, I took vicarious pleasure in the smiles on the faces of those who did go. (Besides, it was the best wedding ever.) And their contagious energy, hope and excitement are now my own.