Monday, January 14, 2008

Michelle Obama

Through some odd blogging convergence, Barak Obama's sketch was the final one uploaded in my last posting (Jan. 5), and now I turn to his wife Michelle, who happened to visit our campus this morning, speaking in the commons area of the Student Center. Pretty close to the announced hour of 10 a.m. one of my former students, a soft-spoken but articulate Katrina refugee from New Orleans named Nadiyah, introduced Obama, and she came striding out like a statuesque fashion model in a shimmering cerulean blue blouse and dark skirt. She introduced her brother (visible above to her left in a lavender shirt) and Barak's sister (to his left) and then spoke with passion and power for about 30 minutes. She didn't miss a beat. I had the impression she was focusing carefully on this audience, half students and faculty, half adults from the community. The crowd was probably at least half African-American. She had much to say about education, the rising cost of college and how not so long ago she and her husband had just finished paying off their loans. She was highly critical of No Child Left Behind, a theme that had a lot of audience support.
She laid out the Obama position on the war, noting that despite the sacrifice of our soldiers and many Iraqis, most of us in the the U.S. haven't been asked to sacrifice a thing. Instead, we've been urged to "keep on shopping." She said that her husband's call for change means not only that government should change but that the thinking of all of us (toward the world, toward the economy, toward the environment) should change. She emphasized her husband's background, his decision to turn away from lucrative job possibilities after graduating from Harvard law and instead to work for social causes in Chicago, his adherence to his principles from the outset. Several times she called up the phrase: "To whom much is given, much is expected." She said, "True, my husband is cute. But his ideas are even cuter."
She makes a terrific spokesman for her husband. Michelle Obama is relaxed, firm, self-assured, and gracious. I can't help but think what a wonderful first lady she'd be. In fact, after her talk, I'm about ready to vote for her. A presidential spouse/attorney with her own drive and ambition? Imagine that.
Mitt Romney will be on campus Wednesday, and John McCain will make a return visit before long. (See McCain on my posting for March 2, 2007.) We're working up to the Republican primary Saturday and the Democratic primary a week afterward. It's a good time to be a political junkie in South Carolina.

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