President Obama came to Kansas City to visit Smith Electric Vehicles and attend a pair of fundraisers for Robin Carnahan. He wound up his time on the ground here by delivering a speech on the economy to a full house of around 2000 ticket holders at the Folly Theater downtown, following the minimum-thousand-dollars-a-plate luncheon that was held a block away at the Downtown Marriott.
I covered Candidate Obama a gazillion times during the primary and then the general election campaign, rallies as small as a few hundred and as large as a hundred thousand, plus. I know he gives good speech. But this was the first time that I had seen him as President.
He was on fire. He chided John Boehner on his assertion that regulating wallstreet would be like killing an ant with a nuclear weapon, finishing his chiding of the orange dude from Ohio with “they should make a movie…The Ant That Ate the Economy!”
Then he tore into Joe Barton. “So I’ve got the House Republican chairman of the Energy Committee, who has jurisdiction over the oil companies — he, in a hearing, says to them, “I apologize that the President strong-armed you” here he paused, before thundering “Chicago-style.” The audience roared. “‘I apologize — I think this is a tragedy that you are being made to compensate these folks.’ Really? I mean, when I heard that I was — I said, ‘no, he didn’t say that. … No. He didn’t say that.’ But he did. Because they don’t think in terms of representing ordinary folks. That’s not their orientation.”
He looked great, and he was genuinely having a blast. I could almost see his eyes twinkling from the balcony when he would go off-script and interact with the audience members.
This was the guy we voted for.
There is a story about FDR addressing a group of reformers who thought that all they had to do was tell the president what they wanted done. FDR, realizing more so than the people in front of him that he was not their king, but their president, and as such was limited by the Congress, looked them dead in the eye and said ” I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.”
I truly believe that he wants to do the things we want him to do, but he can’t. Not with this congress. He needs more and better Democrats, so he can deliver on the promises he made during the campaign, and that he wants desperately to keep.
We just have to do our part and make him.
Perched behind police barricades at the north end of Barney Allis Plaza on 12th Street, hoping to get a glimpse of the motorcade, were the Rednecks for Robin, reminiscent of the “Hillbillies for Hillary” from 2007-08 – toung-in-cheek, self-deprecating rural Democrats, mostly in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
The line to pick up tickets at will-call was literally around three sides of the block. He definitely appears before friendly crowds when he comes to Kansas City.
Of course there were some protesters…I saw three, to be exact…As they walked past where I was standing in line, I read their sign – “When Injustice Becomes Law, Resistance becomes Duty” – I rather agree – that’s why I was in a tizzy from 01-08, afterall – so I said “Dude, where were you guys the last eight years? It’s awfully hard to take you seriously now.” The crowd laughed at them and the guy with the sign said “we’ll be there in November,” rather meekly. I smiled brightly and said “Us too – and look how many more there are of us than you.”
They decided they didn’t want to talk to me any more, and stomped off. Too bad. I was just getting warmed up. They did stand across the street and give me dirty looks though, so score one for me!
We knew it was going to be a stemwinder when the first thing he did was take off his jacket and roll up his sleeves…
There are several pictures of him in action below the fold, and you can watch the whole slideshow here.
We left the venue and walked around downtown for a few minutes running errands, and at every crosswalk there were people who had been at the speech, and they were easy to spot because they looked downright euphoric.
We really are a friendly crowd for him here. In fact, if he ever gets tired of Chicago winters after he’s done in DC, we would welcome him here with open arms, and feed him lots of barbecue. We’ll even help him keep it secret from Michelle.