Obama in Ault Park

I rode my bicycle over to Ault Park today to hear Barack Obama speak. Navigating the hills and valleys of Cincinnati on a beautiful day, as it was today, is so much more preferable to huffing it to the park from a car parked a mile away. As it happened I was pretty exhausted by the time I made it up that last hill up ot the pavillion and then I had to scout around for a suitable pole for locking up my bicycle. Many folks were still arriving for the 3pm rally and to get in Obama campaign volunteers were passing out white “tickets” for attendees to fill out with their neighborhood so they could be co-opted for possible volunteer work in the next few weeks. But really, no tickets were required for attendance. At the pavillion, police had me go through a scanner and checked me for weapons.

The podium was set up in the lower yard of the park, which was pretty well filled by the time I arrived. In any case, I was on the lookout for some shade, the park goers best friend on a sunny day. I found a little nearby where the event organizers had set up a refreshments table serving water courtesy of a nearby fire hydrant and the Cincinnati Water Works. First Mayor Mallory spoke and he introduced many of the other local and state Democratic party politicians vying for office. Then Governor Strickland spoke and word of mouth spread that Obama was running late. Strickland then introduced a woman from Sharonville named Rockel Haussman (sp?). She spoke of her family’s difficulty finding work and enduring long commutes after her husband lost his job security with Ford Motor Company. A smattering of applause interrupted her story as Obama’s entourage arrived at the park. A few minutes later she introduced Obama.

I’ve heard Obama speak on television numerous times now. But here in Cincinnati I couldn’t help but be struck by his populist message. The speech was definitely oriented towards working hard on reviving the economy and he didn’t shy away from saying that we will all need to make sacrifices and take conservation seriously in order to be more frugal. I cheered when he called for promoting a public educatuion system that funded art and music classes. I remembered that critics have been calling for Obama to make an emotional connection with voters and I feel he did so when speaking about his mother arguing with insurance companies a few months before her death from ovarian cancer at the age of 53. The fight for health care against its obscene corruption by health insurance companies animated Obama.

It’s hard to estimate how many thousands of people were in attendance at the rally. At least 5,000. Possibly twice that. Later on in the day I went to Kroger’s to buy some goodies for my Yom Kippur break fast and saw an employee I had seen earlier at the rally. I said hi and asked him what he thought. He said that he missed hearing Obama speak. Because Obama was running late he said he had to leave the rally early to make sure he got to work in time. Then he told me he’s one of those undecided voters who’ll probably choose who to vote for the day of the election. I suspect that he also thought that Obama would be speaking at 3pm rather than having to endure a half hour of introductions by local pols. In any case, this rally today was a missed opportunity for him. For the rest of those assembled, most of whom were wearing some Obama merch, the rally was already preaching to the converted.

About Aharon N. Varady

Aharon's Omphalos is the hobbit hole of Aharon Varady, founding director of the Open Siddur Project. He is a community planner and environmental educator working to improve stewardship of the Public Domain, be it the physical and natural commons of urban park systems or the creative and cultural commons of libraries and museums. His advocacy for open-source strategies in the Jewish community has been written about in the Atlantic Magazine, the Yiddish Forverts, Tablet, and Haaretz. He is particularly interested in pedagogies for advancing ecological wisdom, developing creative and emotional intelligence, and realizing effective theurgical praxes . He welcomes your comments, personal messages, and kind words. If you find his work helpful to your own or you'd simply like to support him, please consider donating via his Patreon account.

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