I may have missed Obama eating an armadillo

A thousand people — give or take one or two — form a line around a city block in downtown Beaumont, Texas, as they wait to see Sen. Barack Obama.

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois is probably speaking or answering questions five or six miles from where I sit as I write this. If one notes the crowd photo above that I took about one hour ago, it is obvious that quite a few folks would have been ahead of me in line had I decided to attempt to see Obama. I said attempt because there was no guarantee that those in line would actually get inside the Julie Rogers Theatre for what was billed as a town hall meeting. The Obamaistas, or volunteers, said that Barack would be holding a rally outside after the meeting took place. That would probably be a good idea because seating inside the city’s performing arts center is somewhere around 1,600 and a report filed about 2 1/2 hours ago by the local daily Beaumont Enterprise indicated police had already estimated the lines for Obama to hold around 1,000 folks.

I would have liked to have seen Barack speak, not that I particularly support him, or Hillary and certainly not John McCain. But I think it must be a rarity to see a presidential candidate in person even though you see one ten thousand times a day on TV. I have never seen a serious presidential candidate during my entire 52 years. I say “serious” because I once interviewed for a newspaper story, a lawyer and Ace hardware store owner in the small East Texas town of Center who was running for the Democratic nomination against Bill Clinton. I also have only seen three presidents of the United States and only one — my pal Gee Dubya — when he actually served in office. When I was full time in the news biz I saw Dubya and his pappy several times. And last week I saw Bill Clinton, who was in town campaigning for Billary.

No matter how you feel about a candidate for president, I think it is an honor to see someone who is or has a real shot at becoming our head of state. It’s kind of like the office of president itself. I think George W. Bush is an a**hole — in his words “big time” — but if I were to ever to meet him again (I interviewed him one-on-one before he was Texas governor)I would give him all the respect due the president of the U.S. Like, “Mr. President, it is an honor to speak with you. With all due respect you are a big-time a**hole, sir.” No, I am only joking. I would be respectful and, yes, probably a little in awe.

Speaking of Bushie, I caught a little of his press conference on the tube this morning. He said we weren’t in a recession, just a little bump in the road or something to that effect. Obama, speaking in Austin this morning, said:

“We are not standing on the brink of recession because of forces beyond our control. This was not an inevitable part of the business cycle. It was a failure of leadership in Washington — a Washington where George Bush hands out billions of tax cuts to the wealthiest few for eight long years, and John McCain promises to make those same tax cuts permanent, embracing the central principle of the Bush economic program.”

Obama then produced an armadillo — the official small mammal of Texas — and ate it whole to emphasize the dire straits of the nation’s economy. Or maybe he didn’t, but I would definitely have waited in line downtown if I knew he was going to do that.

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