Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Report from UCLA

This is a couple of days old, and a tad outdated, now that California has had its primary, but I am still inspired by this.

I went to UCLA on Sunday to hear Michelle Obama speak. The first thing I would like to point out is that this is an example of the power of Barack Obama's message of unity: he doesn't just bring people of different races, classes and backgrounds together. He brings USC people to UCLA. That's powerful.

But about Michelle. Very impressive. You can see why they're married - she's just about as good of a speaker as he is. The other speakers were Caroline Kennedy, who was solid, and Elena Maria Druza, head of the LA County Federation of Labor, who was good, and then Oprah, was superb. No wonder that woman is a billionaire because of her ability to talk. I have seen few people as comfortable with a microphone as that woman - it's like the black plastic becomes an extension of her arm. Turn the thing on, and boom! she's off.

But as good as Oprah was, Michelle was even better. Tough, competent, and yet classy. A man married to this woman is a man who is not afraid of powerful women. A man married to this woman is a man who enjoys being in the presence of a powerful, brilliant woman. You can see why, when they met, she was his boss. In a close race to the Democratic nomination, Michelle Obama will make a difference. I can almost imagine her following Hillary's example and, in 2016, running as the Senator from Illinois (or whenever that opens up).

And then, as a surprise, Maria Shriver showed up. I've never heard her speak, but damn if she wasn't impressive too. She had decided to come to this event, she told us, just that morning. So she hadn't spent any time preparing. She hadn't, she also told us, even brushed her hair or put any makeup on (you could've fooled me, I thot she looked great). But, speaking without any preparation or any notes, she spoke as if she had been preparing for weeks. As if she had been on the campaign trail for months. She knew exactly what she wanted to say. She had the applause lines down. She didn't pause. And, interestingly, she had a good personal relationship with all of the other women: she is Caroline Kennedy's cousin, and she started out her work life at the same station as Oprah, so they have known each other for something like 30 years. And she knows Maria Elena Druza from being in politics in California. And she knows Michelle Obama from being involved in Democratic politics. It was one big party.


Gwennegaia said...

I too, am very impressed with Michelle Obama......bright, forthright, personable.

I am still riveted by the Obama campaign.......and have shared with friends that if he does not get the nomination, I will lose most of my interest in the campaign. Of course I would vote, as we desperately need to get the republicans out of Washington, but with much less enthusiasm.

I heard Shelby Steele (sp?) speak on NPR today (Chautauqua Club session), and his premise is that Obama is a 'bound man'.......that African American's learn to repress themselves to meld into white society.......and he wants Obama to speak more personally, from the heart, about what he thinks and feels. Interesting premise - Steele, as a black man, states that he had to go through this process of awareness himself.

His premise is valid.......and what he speaks of is a process all of us go through - repressing self to gain acceptance. I wonder how much a politician can ever get truly honest about himself, at least in public.......sounds like Michelle would demand personal honesty in their marriage.

As a black child with a white mother and grandparents, one of Obama's life themes would be transcending race - a deep drive to know and prove that we are all alike and equal. Bi-racial clients I have worked with had tough childhoods, not feeling accepted by either race, struggling for self acceptance. Obama seems to me to have resolved this issue for himself very admirably - and I like the deep drive to transcend and strive for equality for all - if this is his 'issue', it's a good one to have. He seems to have dug deep inside himself to become a strong, self directed man with a deep concern for others......In Ken Wilbur's framework, his is the most evolved personality - a universal awareness of the equality and oneness of all people in a person who is strongly rooted in self.

JohnTEQP said...

Ah, issues of identity. Perfect for an old philosophy major! My guess is that a lot of these answers can be found in Obama's book, Dreams from my Father. It's supposed to be great. I think he addresses these issues.

I think one thing that makes Obama unusual as a politician is that he has managed to be honest with himself. I think that's part of his appeal. So he ends up forcing other people to be honest with themselves, particularly his opponents.

Great question.