04 May 2010

Hail to the Chief

So, Saturday, I went to see the President.

Obama's speech at University of Michigan Commencement

Rather than trying to recap the experience now in some kind of coherent textural fashion, I'm going to paste in my stream-of-consciousness tweets from the day, with commentary.

6:40 am
It's pouring rain, thunder and lightning. Oh yay.

(My alarm went off at 6:30, but I'd woken up already to the incredibly loud thunder. Debating whether to go sit in a giant metal box in the middle of an electrical storm was worth the chance of seeing the President. Maybe not.)

6:45 am
If I were a narrow-minded conservative religious nut, I'd say that God doesn't approve of Obama giving the U-M commencement speech.
(As thunder and lightning continue, and the rain comes pouring down, and I haven't showered yet because when I was a kid my mom made me terrified of taking a shower during a thunderstorm.)

7:18 am
Ok, i know it's pouring and all, but why are there actual DUCKS in my front yard?

 (This has nothing to do with commencement, but there were, and I thought it was funny. I do NOT live near a pond.)

8:19 am
Waiting for shuttle bus from commuter lot to stadium. Not crazy enough to try to find parking around there.


This is the sign that was at the shuttle stop. Someone had discarded a camera case near it.

8:57 am (As we were getting off the shuttle at the stadium)
Hey, it stopped raining!

8:59 am
No umbrellas allowed! 

 (This no-umbrella policy is not new for the stadium, and it had been posted on the commencement website, but obviously many people were still unware, as the area outside security was littered with discarded umbrellas, as well as bottles, snacks, and bags.)

9:32 am
Will have an excellent view of the back of the President's head

9:50 am
We have entertainment. Not sure if it's the glee club, choir, or what. They're pretty good.

(This was just before they broke into an acapella version of "Here I Go Again." Really. They WERE good, however -- and as I later discovered, apparently members of the theater department -- and other song choices weren't quite so ... disturbing.)

9:57 am
Helicopters over the stadium.

10:19 am
Now BIG, official looking helicopters.

10:21 am
Decided am hungry. In line for overpriced coke and bagel.
(I was in line for a good 20 minutes, during which time they ran out of a)breakfast sandwiches b) fruit cups and c) creamer, and by the time I got back to my seat commencement had started.)

11:06 am
Jumbotron showing clips of various presidents speaking at U-M. big cheers for Ford and Clinton. Not so much for Bush the 1st.

(I spent some time actually listening to the speeches and being impressed by them. The student speaker in particular was fantastic.)

11:48 am
I can't even believe I am sitting here listening to the freaking PRESIDENT.

11:53 am

11:57 am
He's down there somewhere...

11:58 am
Obama: historical perspective. Lincoln, TR, Johnson. Social programs not historically partisan.
(This is about 15 minutes into the speech, when I shook myself out of dazed stupor to remember I was supposed to be live-tweeting. Politics aside, it's remarkable how the guy can hold a crowd of 90,000 people spellbound.)

12:01 pm
Maintain basic level of civility in public debate -- much applause.

(Apparently the President doesn't want me to call them crazy right-wing nutballs. Oops.)

12:07 pm
If you only read NYT, try Wall St Jrn. If you're a fan of Glenn Beck, try reading HuffPo. Expose yourself to variety of opinions.
(Preaching to the choir in this setting, unfortunately. The people who need to hear this message most likely aren't going to listen to this speech.)

12:09 pm
Poisonous political atmosphere discourages people from getting involved. Need fresh blood in D.C.

12:10 pm
Quoting Kennedy's peace corps speech in AA 50 years ago.
(Link added upon reposting here, obviously.)

12:14 pm
Bunch of people leaving now. Rude!

12:39 pm.
"Please stay in your seat. We will let you know when the President has left and you can leave." Hah!

(And this is how well people listened to the announcements)
12:49 pm
Lots of people left as soon as Obama finished his speech. Seriously seriously obnoxious.

(Come on, people, even if you came to hear Obama: it's a GRADUATION. You should at least stay until people, ya know, GRADUATE.)

12:54 pm
And NOW the sun comes out.
Occurred to me this is more fodder for my crazy-right-wing "God doesn't want Obama to speak at U-M" theory: this was almost literally the minute after Marine One and Two flew over the stadium and away.)

And that was my morning with the President. Me and approximately 92,000 other people.