Christian Schneider

Author, Columnist

Barack and Me

Tonight, I stood face to face with Barack Obama. 

My lefty buddies implored me to head down to the Obama rally at the Kohl Center here in Madison.  Me being the political enthusiast I am, I agreed – thinking, at the very least, I\’d get some good fodder for a blog post.

I met my buddy Barrett and his wife JJ at the coffee shop they own on Regent Street.  The plan was to walk down to the Kohl Center from there.  We had heard the line to get in was enormous, so we thought we\’d wait as long as possible to head down.  Rumor had it that speakers would begin at 8:00, so we decided to walk down at 7:30.

As we approached the corner of Park and Regent (right next to the Kohl Center), we were met by some people who said that they weren\’t letting anyone else in to the rally.  I couldn\’t believe my ears – the Kohl Center seats nearly 20,000 people.  But they said they were turned away.  One guy said he had talked to a cop who said Obama\’s caravan would be driving by that very corner soon.  The fact that the police had blocked this area off gave this guy\’s story some credibility.

Suddenly, down Regent Street, someone saw some cop cars and buses coming.  One could only guess that this was Obama\’s entourage.  I figured there would be a bunch of cars, then Obama\’s limo, with tinted windows, and the whole thing would be a lost cause.  But we waited.

A police car drove by us and took a right.  Then a large black SUV took the same right.  I looked in the passenger side back seat, and saw Obama smiling and waving.  He was ten feet from me.  He waved at me.  I waved back.

The women in our little group shrieked with delight.  Barrett\’s wife almost melted at the sight of the now-presidential frontrunner.  Previous to tonight, she had fed us a line about how she was undecided in the Democratic primary.  But it\’s pretty clear that Obama smiling at her sealed the deal.  Apparently, the leader of the free world will be chosen based not on any of his actual plans, but on the fact that he drove within ten feet of some adoring female fans.

As a counter, Barrett and I decided that we will fawn in a similar way over Hillary Clinton whenever she makes an appearance in Madison.  Imagine how ridiculous that would be – Hillary waves at me and suddenly I become putty in her hands.  Certainly the best way to pick a president.

Having been turned away from the Kohl Center, we decided to watch the speech downtown at the Old Fashioned restaurant.  It was eerie how the whole bar stopped to watch the speech – unlike anything I had seen.  I couldn\’t believe, based on the video from the speech, how many people were actually there.  I had read a press report about Obama\’s popularity that cited an attendance of 6,000 at a speech he had given in Missouri.  If he truly did fill up the Kohl Center, this speech had to triple that.  Absolutely amazing.

Barrett joked that Mike Huckabee will probably hold his first Madison campaign rally at the Old Country Buffet on East Washington.  I couldn\’t disagree.


  1. Well, I shook Bill Clinton’s hand during his first run for the White House, and I melted then, too. The rest is history, mi amigo. –J.J.

  2. It is funny reading your blog, my friend and I were on the corner with you the other night! It definitely melted some of the negative feelings we had over getting to the Kohl Center too late, having Barack give that little wave and smile.

  3. Hey – I’m one of the shrieking women! I’ll be forwarding your article along to some friends (female & otherwise.)
    That smile & wave was a great consolation prize for missing out on the speech – – my husband & I watched it online when I got home, still floating on air from my close encounter with Obama’s motorcade! – chris

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