President Obama visited Baton Rouge this past Thursday for a brief speech and a town-hall type meeting at McKinley High School, the first high school established in East Baton Rouge Parish (in the early 1900s) for African-American students. TV news programs showed videos of people camping out overnight to be first in line to get tickets to the event. I would have loved to have been among them, but not enough to camp out on the street.
Instead, I watched live coverage from home. I was moved by the faces of the people who did get tickets, mostly black people, all of them beaming with joy. Hundreds of people who didn't have tickets showed up and milled around peacefully outside the school, hoping to catch a glimpse of Barack Obama--their president even more than mine. When he spoke to the estimated one thousand people assembled in the auditorium, the folks outside gathered around news vans and listened attentively to his every word.
I don't recall another president in my lifetime who has faced as many obstacles as this one in terms of opposition from the other side of the aisle, yet he has maintained his dignity and even his sense of humor through all of it. He appeared light-hearted and relaxed during his exchanges with the Baton Rouge audience the other day, and I hope that the kind of love exuded by hometown crowds like that one will tide him over when he gets back to business as usual in Washington.
I'll bet he's counting the days until his term is over. You know Michelle is.