Sunday, February 24, 2008

"a band plays 'Obama-alujah' and thousands stand in the chill night ready to be rapturous"

Mr. Obama is on an electoral roll, polls show him pulling closer in Ohio and Texas, crowds show him the Big Celebrity Love, what’s not to like? A touch of cockiness is discernable in his manner now; he is like a gambler convinced his every dice roll will come up double sixes.

His rally in Austin, Tex., on Friday evening fitted his hoped-for-narrative. Fifteen-thousand people, maybe 20,000, jam into the streets in front of the soaring State Capitol, with the usual Obama-as-electoral-rave giddiness. University of Texas guys with painted faces flash the longhorn symbol with their fingers, red-white-and-blue beach balls bounce through the crowd, a band plays “Obama-alujah” and thousands stand in the chill night ready to be rapturous. . . .

On Center Stage, a Candidate Letting His Confidence Show New York Times February 24, 2008.
Dawn had not broken, and yet the television images showed Dallas' Reunion Arena and a long line of silhouetted people already gathering for an event not scheduled until noon.

They were awaiting the messianic figure of a presidential candidate who had just added two more wins to his victory column and who the night before had ignited a crowd of about 20,000 in Houston.

Barack Obama was coming to town. . . .

Inside the arena, the unprompted crowd was yelling, "O-BAM-A! O-BAM-A! O-BAM-A!" a full 90 minutes before the candidate would appear. And just like at sporting events there in days gone by, one section spontaneously led the others in the "wave."

"Old" warriors such as longtime community leader Rene Martinez and activist Roy Williams marveled at the enthusiasm among the diverse audience and said they had never seen anything quite like this.

"If I died today, it would be all right," Williams told me, indicating he was witnessing something he never expected he would live to see.

Parents had taken their children out of school because they were keenly aware this was a special moment in history. Some high school kids from Fort Worth had skipped classes and taken the early train to Dallas.

When finally taking the stage, Obama basked in the outpouring of affection as his followers stood in awe of the man whom they had waited so long to behold. He was well into his speech when he thought to remind the crowd that it was all right for them to sit down as he delivered the rest of his comments.

Some have made fun of his charismatic nature, inspirational tone and continual reference to hope. Many wonder if that wonderment and glorified exuberance can last through the rest of the campaign.

Well, based on what I saw, this movement won't peak until November.

Bob Ray Sanders, Star Telegram February 24, 2008.