I am so very tired — physically, metaphysically, everything. Barack Obama will have a hard time impressing me here at this small group event.
“Changing political parties is not enough,” says Obama. We need to change the way Washington does business. The main thurst of his campaign stated, he opens the floor to questions.
Education comes up first. Obama says he won’t vote to reauthorize No Child Left Behind unless serious changes are made to give underprivileged students better opportunities.
Next, trade. Obama has a conventional response about how trade agreements can’t serve corporations; they have to serve American workers and the environment. He does point out that the speech he gives to environmentalists about fuel efficiency standards is the same speech he gives to auto executives in Detroit. Sometimes they don’t like it; tough.
Obama is asked about coal, and his previous support of it. He talks about how much he supports renewables (a lot), but won’t abandon coal. He says that there are coal miners in Illinois and throughout the Midwest, and he cares about their jobs. That’s an unnecessary thing to say here, but kudos, I guess. He says the biggest objective in defeating global warming is working with the Chinese and Indians.
“I’m skinny but I’m tough.” That’s funnier without context. Is he a chicken wing?
He mentions that all the criticism he’s gotten from the foreign policy establishment in the last few days. These are the same people who collectively got us into the biggest foreign policy disaster in ages, he says, and they are challenging my experience? He says he’ll take on these folks; he relishes fights like those.
Katrina is brought up — the questioner mentions the short shrift the rebuilding of New Orleans got at the group debate earlier. Will there be a WPA or Marshall Plan for the Gulf Coast? Obama says there will be someone in his administration that reports to him once a week on the progress of the rebuilding there. Also, he says, if we had a cleaner politics, less corrupted by silly contracting handouts, we could get this rebuilding going.
Other stuff, blah blah, politics, helping people, etc etc. Have I mentioned how tired I am? This conference has slayed me: three days of nonstop wonkiness is hard to take for any mortal.