Barack Obama: How the mighty are fallen
Once upon a time, Barack Obama had the world at his feet. Tens of thousands of adoring people would come to see him, and often women would react to him as teens once reacted to Frank Sinatra, by fainting away in his presence. Now, though, not so much. Obama is stumping for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and the magic is gone. Nowadays, Obama is drawing crowds that number in only the tens and maybe the hundreds.
Before Trump and his mega (and MAGA) rallies, there was Barack Obama circa 2008. Back then, he was a rock star. In June 2008, when Obama knew that he was going to be the Democrats' presidential candidate, he famously announced that his nomination "was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal."
At a Portland rally in July, approximately 75,000 people came to see Obama speak. Obama got an even better reception that same July, when around 200,000 people turned up in Berlin to hear Obama speak. By October 18, 2008 (almost exactly 12 years ago), the St. Louis, Missouri police estimated that 100,000 people attended an Obama rally.
No wonder Obama and his team began to take him very seriously. At the Democrat National Convention in August 2008, Obama stood on a set with impressive Greek columns that were obviously intended to suggest the dawning of a New Age.
And then there was the fainting, so much fainting. In February 2008, when the Obama worship hadn't even peaked, James Taranto put together a list of fainting women at Obama rallies. Women were fainting in California, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Washington State. You'd think they were at a Sinatra or Beatles concert.
Why am I reminding everyone about Obama-mania? Because I like to compare that mania for Obama back then with the crowds Obama draws today.
As you know, Obama was called in to stump for Joe Biden, who is trapped in the basement and can't get out. And on the rare occasions when Biden escapes the basement, no one wants to see him. You can be sure that the Biden campaign assumed that having Obama on the campaign circuit would draw the crowds, offsetting the enthusiasm that Trump's supporters feel for him.
Trump's supporters, by the way, do not support him with reverence or awe. Instead, he's one of them, from his humor and conversational style to his evident desire to help improve their lives. In other words, it's not about some imaginary light he'll bring to the world.
But back to Obama. The following are videos showing his campaign stop in Philadelphia. Don't you love his little bullhorn as he "sneaks up" on these fifteen or so people?
.@BarackObama told community organizers the importance of their work and encouraged them to “work as hard as you can” in these final weeks. He also stressed the need to stay safe and wear a mask, joking that he wears it even though “it accentuates how big” his ears are. pic.twitter.com/3Pb1v7OVI5— Marianna Sotomayor (@MariannaNBCNews) October 21, 2020
Obama then spoke at a car rally, which seems to have all the thrill of a drive-in movie on a Wednesday night. Allegedly, there were "hundreds" of cars honking for this (ahem) magic moment:
— Marianna Sotomayor (@MariannaNBCNews) October 21, 2020
Meanwhile, here's footage from Donald Trump's rally, not in Philadelphia, but in Erie, Pennsylvania, population 95,508:
Crowd lined up in rainy Erie, PA hours ahead of President Trump’s rally tonight— Will Steakin (@wsteaks) October 20, 2020
2 weeks to go pic.twitter.com/PiW0weJ4Gy
Trump rally in Erie, Pennsylvania tonight pic.twitter.com/7h3Jo9dhtC— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) October 20, 2020
It's true that Obama draws bigger crowds than Biden. But that's not saying much when you consider that just 12 years ago, Obama was a political god. If I were a betting woman, I would bet that Obama's efforts on Biden's behalf will not change the outcome of the upcoming election.
Image: Barack Obama campaigns for Joe Biden. Twitter screen grab.