Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Michelle Obama in Seattle: "What will you do when confronted with The Real Deal"?

Howie reports from today's luncheon with Michelle Obama at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle:
As I told my wife earlier today, it's harder to write up a post about Michelle Obama than most other public figures because she seems so authentic, so articulate, so grounded and so much wiser than most of us. How can I do her remarks justice? She came to talk about Barack's campaign, using her personal evaluation and life experiences with him to talk about his qualifications for the job of President of the United States. In the process, she passed the audition for First Lady with flying colors.
Michelle started out talking about how important it was for her family to remain strong and connected during this campaign. Parents need to "put their family and children first," she said, and Michelle and Barack are striving to be a role model for this. This is important for the individual family members as well as for our communities and the overall health and well-being of our nation.

Michelle talked about the values she heard in the "voice of my father"; hard work, daily diligence, strength in face of adversity. Her Dad was "The Real Thing" and family members used to tease her that she would never find a man like that to marry. She talked about the qualities that Barack showed her that finally convinced her he, too, was "for Real"; the ability to connect with people, a willingness to walk the path towards his dreams and priorities and the same capacity for hard work that she grew up with. She also said, "He's the smartest man I know."

Then she talked about how Barack sees the challenge of leading our nation to a place where more of our citizens have the opportunity to live their dreams and realize the promises our nation has made to them. Michelle sees the campaign now as an effort to engage the citizens of our nation before the next President is inaugurated, so they will be personally involved in working for an agenda for change when the next President takes office, not afterwards.

Here is how Michelle defined leadership, not "so many years in Washington:"

Barack's ability to connect with people and work along side them to initiate new solutiions to old problems.

Michelle told the audience that Barack's opponents intend to offer "shreds of doubt" to the electorate, so it will fall back into the "familiar and comfortable" ways of thinking that have gotten us where we are today. Therefore, she needs all of us to "get engaged" ourselves and be messengers for Barack. "If you don't engage, you won't get the Real Deal--you'll get what you've got now," Michelle said.

Finally, she asked the audience to be willing to give up some of what they feel they need or want to hear from Barack, to be willing to compromise, in order to win the larger victory for the greater good. She promised Barack would not pander and would talk straight with them. That's what "The Real Deal" is all about.

Michelle spent a lot of time just talking with people individually and in small groups. She seemed very comfortable doing this. Unfortunately, I didn't have the audacity to approach her myself, even though I was just a few feet away for long periods of time. I did get some photos, which I will be posting here in the next several days.
Howie P.S.: I was planning to call this post "I've Got A Crush On Obama (Michelle, that is)," but her message and persona deserve a much less trivial headline than that and, fortunately, she helped me write one with her remarks today.

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