Spreading the Dumb

It’ll still be a few days before normal posting resumes: finals, papers, etc. In the meantime, everyone should head over to Jon’s and listen to this insane phone call. Move your keyboard; you don’t want to break it in the inevitable barrage of “headdesk” incidents.


My view wasn't nearly this good.I made a pilgrimage to Springfield on Saturday. It was excessively cold, but damn if it wasn’t worth it. Jon, Jess, and I arrived at the old capital building some time after 8:30, where we stood with (according to one count) between 13,000 and 17,000 other ice-cold citizens, listening to the funkiest music I’ve ever heard at a political event. Seriously, it was a great mix, and not the usual Democratic standards (“Don’t Stop Thinkin’ About Tomorrow,” “R.O.C.K. in the USA,” etc.) either. Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life,” Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You,” and even K.T. Tunstall’s better single, “Suddenly I See” made it into the playlist that someone nearby called “Barack’s iPod.”

But the music wasn’t why I was losing the feeling in my toes; seeing a tall, gangly self-made Illinois lawyer speak about uniting a broken country was. I could go on about his speech, but you can see it here and evaluate it for yourself. The things which stood out most to me were that he is (as I noticed when he spoke at Augie) a fantastic orator who understands how to use pauses and timing (unlike some political officials), that he seemed absolutely genuine throughout the speech, and that he stood for issues rather than parties. The fact that he actually mentioned increasing our supply of and pay for teachers, decreasing the cost of college education, and funding science, really scored some extra points with me. It’s easy to remember universal healthcare and war policy, but science funding isn’t exactly the sexiest issue, and doesn’t often earn mention, especially in a speech this big.

Anyway, aside from the content, there was just this prevailing mood in the crowd. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a group that massive before, and everyone seemed so excited about the whole thing. Maybe some of the dancing was just to keep warm, maybe the joking comments traded with the emcee weren’t meant entirely in good humor, but the whole event just felt happy. And when you’re surrounded by fifteen thousand other joyful, jazzed-up people, it’s hard not to get caught up in that energy. I remarked twice that I felt like I was in the crowd at the end of Ghostbusters II, what with the size and the good vibrations and all.

Imagine my surprise, then, when Barack left the stage to Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher,” the key song in that same film. Before the crowd dispersed, there was a crazy, fun, gigantic impromptu dance sequence to “Shout” as well. It wasn’t quite as coordinated as the sequence in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but with a couple more practices, I think we’ll have it down.

A phrase kept coming up in the various speeches that day: “in the shadow of the old capital.” Now, I understand that this meant “shadow” in the more metaphorical sense, because literally, no one but some security and volunteers were standing in the shadow of that building. Most of us were standing in the shadow of the big Ameren building across the street. Or, at least, we were until Barack came onstage, and the sun finally came out from behind the skyscraper, as if on cue. Clever organizers would have planned such an astronomical event, especially with that sort of impeccable timing, but it was still incredible to see. Very well done, whoever was responsible.

Obama’s had my support since he spoke at Augie a year or two ago. He proved then that he had the intellect, the speaking ability, and the clear understanding of our nation’s chief problems to make a fantastic leader. Unless Hillary can show me in the next few months that she has ideas and ideals of her own, and isn’t the sophist she’s appeared to be for the last several years, I think I’ve got my primary pick laid out. Taking responsibility for her stance on the war and altering her position on NCLB were a start, but I’m still not entirely convinced that she won’t simply say what’s popular and what will raise her Q rating, y’know? Count me in as an Obamaniac until further notice, and may he go very far.