I went to the Obama rally at the Pavilion tonight with around 7000 other people. There were a lot of legislators and electeds in the crowd.
Instead of a rally, Barack had more of a wonky discussion as is his style.
There were two important themes that came out from his discussion and one tactical shift.
The first political tactic: he's getting tougher on Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. The phrase about the Iraq War is now "a war that should never have been authorized." That's a clear dig at the U.S. Senators who did not share his foresight about the predictable results of invading Iraq and that's a challenge that Senator Clinton has not responded to well. I don't think she ever will. Senator Edwards, to his credit, has come clean by admitting he was wrong to vote to authorize the invasion.
One of the themes of his conversation was a point Senator Paul Simon was fond of making: the policy solutions to our big problems (a dumb health care financing system, a dumb reliance on foreign oil that funds the bad guys and a dumb public education system that still runs on the agricultural calendar) are (a) not particularly technical, (b) fairly well-known and (c) generally opposed by special interests. They are nuts-and-bolts solutions.
That's important to recall, because otherwise it's easy to think that the problems are intractable and investing in solutions is not only pointless but dangerously naive. That's certainly what the special interests like the peddle.
The other theme of his conversation was that he is an imperfect vessel for a movement to ensure that the solutions discussed earlier are put at the heart of the D.C. agenda. Because today, it isn't our agenda that's discussed. For health care, it's the agenda of the drug companies, the insurance companies and, to a lesser extent, the hospitals at the center of the discussion. For that to change, we'll have to have millions of people become better citizens to force the non-special interest agenda on to D.C. That's how we'll win that next battle. And that's one of the core purposes of the Obama presidential campaign.