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February 10, 2009

The Scene From Fort Myers, A Far Cry From The Beltway

Obama Henrietta Hughes.jpg
McConnell Etc.jpg

Julio2.jpg

GOP Stimulus oppo.jpg
Ft.-Myers-hands.jpg
Beyond the powerful PR for the President, yesterday’s townhall in Fort Myers was a moral victory for the people as well as an opportunity to draw a fundamental contrast between the people and the power.

If the fact has escaped anyone, these are the first presidential townhall meetings in eight years in which the participants haven’t been hand-picked by the White House. What I’ve done above is to intersperse two photos of the stonewalling GOP in Congress with three photos from yesterday’s Obama event. Any association to a “sandwich” is completely intentional, these populist scenes contrasting with those lilly-white conservatives protesting on Capitol Hill.The Fort Myers images represent the visual and emotional highlights of the event, one which offered a great deal more drama and intimacy than Obama’s gathering in Indiana the day before. In Indiana, there was only one video shot which remained fixed on the podium. Here, television provided us an intimate view of a raucous and populist affair.

The first photo shows Obama soliciting a question from Henrietta Hughes (video), a homeless woman who’s now living out of her car. The second photo offers Minority Leader McConnell kvetching after yesterday’s slim passage of the stimulus bill. The third image, a screen grab, comes from the dramatic and powerful exchange between Obama and college student Julio Osegueda (video) who has been working at McDonalds for the past four years. Osegueda, who could hardly contain his emotion, displayed a spontaneity and earnestness that would put Joe the Plumber to shame. (If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a few minutes. By the way, here’s Julio airborne in the background.) The forth image offers a group of GOP Senators detailing their opposition to the stimulus bill. That exhibition, with Senator Bennett holding his finger in the air, combined with the fact the Senate was voting on the stimulus package during Obama’s town hall, contrasts nicely with the last image, capturing members of the crowd straining to ask the President a question.
Obviously, the people, too, are interested in being heard.
(image 1: Joe Raedle/Getty Images: Harborside Event Center. February 10, 2009, Fort Myers, Florida. image 2: J. Scott Applewhite/AP. Feb. 10, 2009, Washington. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks to reporters after the final passage of the stimulus bill, Tuesday,   He is joined by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. image 4: J. Scott Applewhite/AP. Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009. Left to right are: Sen Jim Bunning, R-Ky., Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

  • jonst

    Julio seemed nuts to me. Creepy “nuts”.

  • http://www.errolmorris.com/content/interview/stopsmiling0306.html yg

    just saw on cspan a clip from an interview obama gave on abc nightline last night. the answer he gave in response to a question about why the market tanked after the geithner announcement, was so well put, succinct and insightful — i almost liked it better than the townhalls he gave. and i’m not one of those forever praising his communications skills. there have been times when i felt like he could have been tighter.

  • http://www.errolmorris.com/content/interview/stopsmiling0306.html yg

    part of it, i think, was because he was excited to be on tv. keith played “me and julio down by the school yard.” cute.

  • Ben

    The people want to be heard and the Banks want to be heard. The banks get almost two trillion and the people will get less than 800 billion in today’s stimulus agreement. Barney Frank and the bank ceos are putting on a little theater for us today. If Frank was serious about accountability he would be fighting Geitner’s plan to give another trillion to the bankers with little accountability. They’ll return to their respective corners of wealth and power and prestige; and those of us who still have jobs will go to work to pay for their wonderful life styles. It’s a Plutocracy people-it’s a plutocracy. Obama may be better than Bush in some ways, but he is continuing Bush’s policy of using the state secrets act to cover up war crimes and he is continuing to serve the same corporate masters. Note: since 2006 51% of financial industry campaign contributions have gone to the Democrats. Why is that?

  • http://www.errolmorris.com/content/interview/stopsmiling0306.html yg

    certainly the first tranche of the bailout went down a rabbit hole, but look at when happened when japan refused to address their banking crisis.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01053714e4e4970b Karen H.

    Julio’s statements and affect during the Town Hall and on Olbermann made it clear that he is an enthusiastic Christian. Maybe of the born again variety. That fact, combined with the fact that these events occurred in counties carried by McCain in the general election, must have struck fear in the hearts of the GOP. If Obama’s getting their base, they’ve got big problems. I found the interaction with Henrietta Hughes more emotionally powerful, but the character of that interaction was probably lost on the GOP anyway, since they’ll figure she’d never, if she could, vote for Republicans. Julio is a different matter. Even if he’s been an Obama supporter from the start, he carries the characteristics of the GOP base.

  • http://www.errolmorris.com/content/interview/stopsmiling0306.html yg

    i know obama can tap into state local and federal help available for ms. hughes, but my first thought upon hearing her story was why wasn’t a church helping her out?

  • Jim S.

    Notice the deliberate visual lie in the Republicans’ “Sizing up the Stimulus” graphic. The data is linear, but by making the “Proposed Stimulus” bar at least twice as thick (and brighter red), they greatly enlarge the area of that bar. That makes the Stimulus seem much larger by comparison than it actually is, since the brain compares the areas, not the lengths, of those bars. Also, the “$1.2 trillion” jumps out, but the font for the other numbers is almost illegibly small.
    Sizing it UP, indeed.

  • jtfronBC

    I’m observing the performing art of Political Theater.
    The Stagecraft of The Powerful and of The Plebeian.

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