President Obama visited Council Bluffs, Iowa today. Iowa is an important swing state in the upcoming election and both candidates have made it a priority (well, sort of). I have made a retro-diary of my experience.
06:22- Wake up freezing in my bed. I'm slightly confused as to why I'm waking up before my alarm at 7. Why is my pillow so hot? Time to flip it over.
07:00- The alarm on my phone wakes me up. It's pretty quiet. I thought I turned it on loud. Do I need to get up at this time? Maybe five more minutes of sleep.
07:19-07:31- Eating my Cocoa Puffs. Adult cereal is for suckers.
07:32-08:03- Going to Council Bluffs with my brother's girlfriend. I'm tired. I hate mornings.
08:03-08:05- I wonder how many people I'll see that I recognize. There are 25 school buses here, which one do I get on? Do we have an organized system where we're getting on buses?
08:07-08:10- No, there is no organized system. There is just a really long line. I'm standing next to a bus, #105, I remark to my brother's girlfriend, I bet that this is the bus we're on. We're just going to move in this line to the front but the buses will have to move, too. This doesn't make much sense.
08:10-08:30- I'm right. This system makes no sense. We keep walking forward, the buses keep moving.
08:30-08:45- We're on the next bus. We're told to go to the stop sign and wait. The bus stops well before the stop sign. We get on. It's bus #105. I hate being right.
08:45-08:58- We're riding along and people are talking to me. I don't want to talk. I don't like anyone at this time of day. Please turn around and face the front.
09:00- We're off the bus. We're headed towards standing in a long line. There is no end to this line that I can see. The people in front of me and behind me are still talking to me about God knows what.
09:03- There is one person holding a Romney/Ryan sign on the other side of the street. He looks strangely out of place. His wife or significant other is trying to look in people's apartments. I'm not sure if she's doing that but she keeps looking up at the building that is clearly an apartment building.
09:05-09:10- Oh, he's talking to somebody, I can't get a picture with my cameraphone. I will still endeaver to do so. People are walking up and down the sidewalk selling buttons and t-shirts. If I had any cash on me, I would probably buy one.
09:11- I sign up for voting by mail.
09:14- Looking at my phone, I realize the doors are supposed to open soon. Also, it dawns on me that this will be the first time I see a Secret Service Agent. I am stoked.
09:15-09:20- The K-9 unit Police car drives by, surprisingly, it is not one of the cars using their PA system to tell us to get back on the sidewalk. Anyway, I find out from the lady ahead of me that if there are cats in a house, they cannot use the drug sniffing dogs. Apparently, meth dealers are buying lots of cats so that the drug sniffing dogs cannot come in. You may ask how does this lady know this information? I don't know. I don't want to continue this conversation with her.
09:20-09:30- We're just standing in line. I'm wasting time by trying to determine whether or not drug sniffing dogs would go crazy if you had other dogs or other pets. Is it just pets? Why do dogs hate cats so much in the first place?
09:31-09:35- Chad Johnson got arrested for headbutting his wife. Peyton Manning looked good in his preseason debut. Eric Decker might be my fantasy sleeper. Peyton Hillis is on the Chiefs...and what's that in the distance? Is that Republican protesters?
09:35-09:55- Finally, something to entertain me. There are Republican protesters! Also, the Romney/Ryan guy has found his friends. They're chanting, "eighty-four more days!" They're chanting this over and over again. I don't know if there are 84 more days before the election, but I assume that it is correct. Worse for them, even if Obama does not get re-elected in November, the next president doesn't get inaugurated until January of next year. You know, more than 84 days before somebody else would actually be President. Another person has a sign that says "Yes, Mr. President, we did build this sign." Congratulations to that person because clearly that person taught themselves how to read and write, how to make paper out of trees, how to create poster out of paper, then created the poster, taught themselves how to create a marker, then created the marker, then taught themselves how to latch onto a Republican talking point, and then created the sign. I'm very impressed that you were able to do that all on your own. Another sign said,"I'm a small business owner standing for Mitt." Awesome. Your small business either does not have an owner there today, you're not involved in the day to day business aspects of your job, or you've taken it upon yourself to discuss your political view with strangers that have no interest in participating with your small business any longer. I don't think those are positives.
09:55-10:00- I see the Secret Service people! I'm so excited. I want them to search me. But then again, that might be a harrowing experience. There's some debate about whether or not I have to show my ID. Listen, if I don't have to show my ID to vote, I sure as hell am not going to show it to see the President.
10:00-10:15- Walking into the park, saying hello to the Obama for America state director of Nebraska and going to the place where we're going to stand for the next two hours. There's a tree over here. Just going to stand here, next to the Firefighters for Obama and Biden. This should be interesting.
10:16-10:30- Listening to music that has nothing to do with politics. I think Obama should run out to Eye of the Tiger. Also, I wonder who will introduce Obama.
10:31- I wonder, how do I get to sit behind the President?
I actually lost track of the time after that. I was starting to get hungry.
A pastor comes up to pray. Now, I have nothing against religion or anything like that. I'm just not sure that prayer has any business in a political forum. But you know what, it doesn't matter. If there was no prayer then we would hear about how Democrats hate Christianity.
Leonard Boswell comes up next. His daughter is onstage for some inexplicable reason. He makes some jokes that don't really land. People want to see Barack Obama.
Next up, the Secretary of Agriculture, who is from Iowa asks a series of rhetorical questions that are supposed to get us fired up. There's a chant of four more years. I do not join in. I do not like chanting.
Next up, a volunteer for Obama for America wants us to volunteer for Obama's campaign. She makes a series of arguments that appeal to our emotions. People cheer after she makes these arguments.
More time lapses.
Another speaker. She is going to introduce Barack Obama. Who is she? She works at the U.P. Museum in Council Bluffs. She has kind of a downer speech that is supposed to appeal to our emotions. But she introduces Barack Obama!
Finally, the reason I came.
He starts with some light-hearted banter about Iowa and how he's going to visit the state fair. He said that Michelle will not let him eat a fried twinkie. Last time he was here, he was able to do the bumper cars but he wasn't president, things like that.
Obama's main message in this stop was to argue that we need to build the economy from the middle out or the bottom up and not the top down. His argument is that tax breaks from the top will not stimulate the economy. We may have a deficit but we need to fix that with increased taxes from the wealthy and spending cuts. He talks about people like him need to pay more.
He also talks about how if you see Paul Ryan, you needto let him know that he needs to help pass the Farm Bill to help out Iowan/Nebraskan farmers. He also talks about his accomplishments, getting out of the wars, getting Osama bin Laden, passing Obamacare, etc.
He ends most of his paragraphs with this is a choice and that's why I'm running for President for a second term.
My cynical nature wants to criticize Obama's arguments that are based on appeals to emotions, which they are. He also misstates his own "facts" giving himself too much credit. For instance, he overstates how many people will be able to stay on health insurance and how much the middle class will save with his tax plan as opposed to Romney's. It also would criticize Obama for not doing more in the clean energy sector like he said he would. But, I'm reminded of something that David Foster Wallace wrote in his political essay, "Up, Simba" where he contrasts the differences between presidential candidates by lableing them as salesmen and leaders. A great salesman, he argued, could sell you on a particular idea or ideal but you know deep down that they do not really believe in what they are pitching. They are trying to give you an opinion of what they think is the best for you. Just like a great salesman in any field. A leader on the other hand, you know it when you see it. When you're with a great leader, something is different. You are inspired to help out. You are inspired to believe what is best is what they are saying. You know the difference between a great salesman and a great leader, instinctually. Of course, David Foster Wallace was writing about John McCain in 2000, when he called him a leader. I am using Wallace's explanation to describe someone who actually ran against McCain in 2008. Barack Obama is not a salesman but rather a leader. The opinion on whether or not he is a good leader is up to the individual. I think that part of the reason that Obama is so highly contested by his opponents is because he is a leader, he inspires the worst in some people. Romney is a salesman. He might be a great salesman. I haven't seen anything that would make me say that he is a leader. You can correct me if I'm wrong.