Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Obama Candidacy More Than Sex Appeal

Last month I attended the inaugural meeting for the university organization Students for Barack Obama which won the coveted 9 p.m. time slot and was showcased deep in the bowels of ICC. Despite the 9 o’clock premier of NBC’s “Heroes” and a rainstorm, the room was filled. I was pleased by the turnout but not surprised. After all, Senator Obama is the man.

It was another sunny autumn day in Los Angeles, and my sister, a junior at the University of Southern California, invited me to USC’s Democratic rally, which was intended to get-out-the-vote for the November 2006 midterm and gubernatorial elections.

There were plenty of reasons I didn’t want to go. First, I had been a UCLA fan my entire life and had no intention of setting foot in the lion’s den for a meager political rally. Second, I did not want to waste a Friday afternoon listening to the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides – a man who could put a crowd to sleep faster than a philosophy professor. And third, I was frustrated. Frustrated that the Democrats never seemed to get anything done, frustrated that President Bush could win the 2004 election despite non-existent WMDs and chaos in Iraq, and frustrated that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) was bound to defeat Angelides by a landslide in the November election. In short, I wasn’t saving the date.

That is, until my sister told me that Obama would be speaking. I had heard good things about this up-and-coming senator from Illinois. Time magazine had labeled him “the Fresh Face” of American politics, and rumors about his possible candidacy in 2008 were swirling around the country.

The rally was a veritable who’s who of California politics. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took time out of his busy affairs to give a short but animated speech. Next up was the tranquilizer himself, Angelides. He mustered up enough enthusiasm for a semi-decent speech, but midway through, something happened. The crowd began to murmur. I couldn’t see what was going on because I was standing behind a die-hard Obama fan who obstructed my view by waving the senator’s book in the air, hoping to get an autograph. The crowd continued to exchange whispers. I asked the man, “What happened?”

His answer shocked me: “Obama took his jacket off.”

That’s all it took for Barack Obama to win the crowd. Angelides’ 15 minutes of fame were over in five. The spotlight was on Barack Obama, for the simple reason that he had removed his sports coat.

A score of women and a particularly enthusiastic male fan in front of me shouted with delight as Obama handed the jacket to a young woman on the stage behind him, who looked like she’d just caught Barry Bonds’ record-breaking baseball. I doubt Barack ever saw that girl or his jacket again.

I can’t think of any other politicians who, by simply removing his or her jacket, could gain such a response from a crowd. George Bush wouldn’t remove his jacket without Dick Cheney’s permission, and Cheney can’t remove his without a medical team to assist him. Nancy Pelosi could get a couple of glances for disrobing – but only from her AARP constituents.

But that’s no way to win popularity. If a politician gained votes based on how well they undressed, then Pamela Anderson would win by a landslide every time. Charisma is nothing without substance, I thought to myself. Then, after Angelides had finished preaching to a distracted choir, Obama took the mic and gave the crowd some substance.

His speech was simple but powerful – he talked about hope. Hope that our generation could step up and change our environment, foreign policy and country for the better. Hope that America could return to its former glory.

On a comical note, midway through the speech, Angelides tried Obama’s trick and removed his own jacket. Yet the crowd remained engrossed in the Obama’s words. Angelides handed his jacket to a girl, who looked more inconvenienced than honored. She was probably wondering how much a losing gubernatorial candidate’s jacket could sell for on eBay.

At the end of his speech, Obama asked everyone to get involved, vote for Angelides and help the Democrats sweep the midterm election. He exited the stage to a resounding cheer.

Long story short, I didn’t get involved, Angelides was terminated by the Terminator, and the Democrats swept the midterm elections but then sold their souls by failing to end the war as they’d promised. Once again, the Democrats left a sour taste in my mouth.

But I’ve decided not to lose heart and have held fast to the senator’s message of hope.

For giving me this hope, I stand by Obama and defend him from the parrots who say, “He’s too young and inexperienced.” To these critics, I respond, “Look at JFK, Macaulay Culkin and the girl from “Little Miss Sunshine”. Young people can do great things. Does Obama have to crack out a few more divorces like Giuliani before he’s experienced enough to run?”

But this campaign ad has gone on long enough. The best thing I can do is encourage you to hear him for yourselves. I hope for your sake that you get to experience Obama’s message of hope and see the crowd stir when he removes his jacket. And I hope for everyone’s sake that if Pelosi is there, she keeps all her clothes on.

Andrew Dubbins is a freshman in the College.

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