"The president ate his Wheaties this morning."
"Actually, the president had oatmeal this morning. He said it was something he's always wanted to try."
—The West Wing
Okay, so anybody who doesn't know I've had my issues with Barack Obama and the Cult of Obama hasn't been paying attention. But the truth is I'm looking for a reason to like him, I always have been, and when I get pissed off at him, it's because he does things that embarrass me as a Democrat, things like telling me I'm not nice enough to religious bigots. I did listen to everybody who told me I was being stupid to write him off as a schmuck and decided to try to keep an open mind about him.
Went to see him speak in Harvey today (poverty- and corruption-ridden south suburb full of nice people getting screwed hard by all levels of government, for those of you who are not initiate in its wonders) and whoo, boy, was he on fire. He was pissed.
He smacked everybody around. The local mayor who hired his political cronies, the police chief under investigation for various offenses too lengthy to detail, ministers for liking the applause of their congregations. These people, by the way, were sitting not twenty feet away from him and he said this stuff to their faces. "We don't need that kind of leadership," he said, looking right at them. "You know what I'm talking about."
He called out Bush, for spending billions in Baghdad and nothing at home, for saying we were going to eradicate poverty after Katrina and then letting NOLA evacuees continue to rot in trailers (yelling "They can't come home!").
I asked him about this point Atrios made and he said it is time to begin redeploying our troops. Said he'd been waiting to see if Bush was gonna work with the ISG and since he wasn't, and was moving forward with this whole "surge" nonsense, he was gonna get a resolution slapped on him. Which wasn't "bring them home now" so I wasn't totally satisfied, but he did at least acknowledge the Friedman Unit issue.
So I've gone from disliking him back to "I don't know." I have a suspicion he's decided not to run for president and that's why he speaking so freely, but if he is running for president and he's talking like this? I may have to rethink my mental exhaustion with his political celebrity and seeming immunity to his charms, which to tell you the truth is about 60 percent the fault of the political TV hairdos who kiss his ass like he's Bono and never tell me why I should love him so much.
(Yes, I'm a fickle political whore who has previously declared her '08 allegiance to Kerry, Edwards, Richardson, Eddie Izzard, a breakfast pastry, and whichever of Sigfried and Roy didn't get chewed on by that tiger. I admit this and fully disclose it and I have no obligation whatsoever to be anything but honest about my uncertainty plus it's all a freaking year away anyway. Generally my allegiance will be to whoever's hitting hardest with the biggest chair around, so it's gonna change a bit. If I have a hard and fast rule, that's it.)
My column about the whole thing and my former and current colleagues' work, including sound clips from the speech and photos, will be up here at some point later today if you want to read more.