After a short and public visit to Facebook in Silicon Valley, President Barack Obama headed up to San Francisco yesterday evening where he drove past the Golden Gate Bridge on his way to the Masonic Center in Nob Hill.
"One of the greatest views in the world," Obama says.
By 5 p.m., those who had paid their $25 to see the president speak were filling in the Masonic Center. The unusually mellow evening included music -- Black Eyed Peas -- a speech from Jerry Rice, and a mini concert by local R&B singer Goapele (which, fittingly, means to move forward in Setswana, an African language).
The president finally took the stage close to 9 p.m., delivering yet another rousing speech, laced with a lot emotional banter: "I love you Obama," and "I love you back," the president said.
He displayed a friendly and casual manner from the start, pointing out that while in Silicon Valley with Mark Zuckerberg
, he learned his Facebook page is doing "quite well."
"I have 19 million friends, which is just a half-million behind Sponge Bob," Obama said. "That's something to aspire to."
Speaking of aspiring to -- Obama
reminded the audience of why we were there. He is hoping (there is that word again) to serve another four-year term in 2012. And because he is disenchanted with the aura in Washington, D.C., Obama has decided to campaign everywhere but the nation's capitol.
"In Washington, the conversation is just different than the conversation you hear around the kitchen table or the water cooler," Obama told the crowd. "I don't want a campaign heard by pundits and cable channels."
He wants a campaign heard by "ordinary people."
"Because ordinary people can do extraordinary things -- including elect a guy named Barack Obama," he said.
He mentioned the highlights of the past three years while he's been in office -- warding off another Depression, investing in clean energy at historic levels, passing health care reform, and repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
But the president made it clear that he wasn't there to talk about the past -- he was there to talk about the future. "Progress can make us complacent," he said. "Our work is not finished -- it will take more than one term."
Specifically, he wants a government to live within its means; that's not to say he will sacrifice education or investment in clean energy, rather Obama says he will look to end tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans -- and he's putting himself in that category. "We can't tell billionaires 'go count your money, we'll take care of everything,'" Obama said.
He was emphatic about ending tax cuts after taking so much heat within his own party for extending Bush-era tax cuts
for the wealthy. But as Obama pointed out, the past few years has been a steeper hill to climb than he even thought.
Yet it's this kind of uncomfortable debate, compromise, and rancor that birthed change and made America a more equal country, he reminded us, calling up the Women's Rights Movement as well as the Civil Right's Movement.
It was with that he ended the evening, leaving us with three final words: "Yes. We. Can."
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