First cut: I went to the Obama rally here in PDX today. Got up at O’Dark to get in line early enough to get a good seat. Ate cheese sandwiches in the car on the drive down. It turned out we didn’t really know where the Memorial Coliseum was, but we spotted a man walking with a sense of purpose in the general direction and he was headed there so we followed. We were about the 1000th persons to arrive and got in line. (In a sweet irony, I realized that in 1965 I had followed my older sister to our first Beatles concert in this arena.) Our seats were a couple of rows from the stage. The crowd was psyched. From the very young to senior citizens; Asians, blacks, caucasians; the well and shabbily dressed, a good cross section of PDX was present. (I just detest the TV commentators’ query on whether or not Obama has the white vote; clearly he has a lot of it, at least as much as does Hillary or McCain.) Two hours later the photogs with their stylish hair cuts and huge cameras showed up, TV and other media got on their observation desks and eventually the DipDive video of Obama’s speech set to song was broadcast. That was the cue. The photogs ran over to the corridor near an exit, crouched and pointed their cameras, so everyone in the crowd in the general area titled in that direction, hanging over the barricade in the direction of the doorway, cameras ready, too. As the DipDive video ended, the doorway coughed up some of the Obama entourage and then the man was there shaking hands, Bill Richardson in his shadow but gamely joining in.
Obama did his usual stump speech without betraying any of the fatigue he must be experiencing. I was reminded again how serious and almost tragic an expression he sometimes carries. It goes beyond a Lincoln-esque melancholy, but something like what I’ve noticed in the face of a Michelangelo Madonna and child, that ineffable sense of grave portent.