Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lunch with Michelle Obama and a couple governors

Last week, Michelle Obama came to Seattle to stump for Governor Christine Gregoire at Qwest Field's WaMu theater. The cavernous space was filled with a who's who of local Democratic politics, and hundreds of folks who wanted to see Mrs. Obama.

Governor Gregoire has hitched her wagon to theirs as the local paper writes, and did it early on, which has so far been a big coup for her.

But come on: suggested $200 donation to the Governor's campaign for lunch? Sorry: the economy being what it is, I suggested a smaller amount on my check. And I get that it's a fundraiser, but what about the Obama national campaign model of give $25 or whatever you can? That would go a lot farther in building the broad coalition statewide the governor needs to return for a second term.
That said, it was a great lunch with an amazing acappella rendition of the national anthem (see, Democrats are patriotic too!), followed by some good points from Governor Gregoire (the GWB countdown timer bit got lots of laughs), and an inspiring, pragmatic, common sense speech by Mrs. Obama about what's at stake in both Washingtons this November.

Afterwards, Mrs. Obama worked the handshake line and I got close enough to snap these shots.
Whee! She's as tall, gorgeous, smart and welcoming from this distance as she appears on TV.

Former Governor Gary Locke was there too.

And the lunch capped off my second, up close Obama sighting in the past two weeks. Well, sorta. In Portland recently, someone at the Mississippi Street Festival set up this life size Obama cut out for pictures. I hope Ava will get a chuckle when she comes across this years from now.

I already had an affinity for Michelle Obama. But the more I see and hear her, the more I like her. Over at BlogHer, she's blogging too and talking about topics that obviously resonate for me and most women in the country, regardless of political affiliation or whether they have children: the challenges of juggling work and family and how it's getting tougher for everyone, especially those who already struggle to make ends meet each month. Her talk at the luncheon and in interviews I've seen convey her understanding of that struggle that so many working-class folks, and women in particular, are facing.

Despite the financially comfortable life she and her husband have been blessed to create, she grew up on Chicago's Southside in a working class family and thus I think she "gets" what's happening for working class folks more intimately than the photo-op understanding McCain seems to have. He looked like he hadn't been in a grocery store in ages.

Why do politicians even do those? I think a more telling photo op would be to give the candidates (or their wives) a single, working mom's family food budget for the month and have them buy groceries and live off of it to see if it was actually enough. I think Michelle would do swimmingly, because Black women in particular have a rich history of making a way out of no way.

If you're interested, there are also some videos of Michelle's recent interviews on YouTube. I can't wait to see and hear more as this campaign progresses.

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