For all of their hoopla, and even with Prince Harry as a drawing card, Barack and Michelle Obama could only fill half of the Chicago venue for their first Obama Foundation international summit

Venue for First Obama Foundation Summit Only Half Full

By —— Bio and Archives--November 3, 2017

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Venue for First Obama Foundation Summit Only Half Full
When the mighty have finally fallen you don’t get to hear it because it’s like not being anywhere near the forest when the tree comes crashing down.

In spite of all the hoopla about his $1 billion presidential center being the go-to place where civic youth will be taught how to ‘community organize’  the world, the venue kicking off Barack Obama’s First Obama Foundation international summit, was only “half full”.

“The gathering has drawn international attention. In addition to the Obamas, attendees included Prince Harry of Wales, hip-hop artists Common and Chance the Rapper and a large contingent of artists, thought leaders and residents who have started nonprofit organizations and foundations. (Chicago Tribune, Nov. 1, 2017)

“Singer-songwriter Andra Day kicked off the concert marking the end of the summit Wednesday night with her hit “Rise Up.” The show started 20 minutes late in a half-full Wintrust Arena, the new DePaul basketball arena on East Cermak Road.

“The Obamas took the stage to express hope that the summit inspires future leaders and to heap praise on Chance the Rapper, who curated the concert. Gloria Estefan also performed.”

As the conference star, Obama tried for casual and laid-back:

“Former President Barack Obama popped in on one of Wednesday morning’s breakout sessions. (Chicago Tribune)

“He sat quietly and mostly unnoticed in the back while a panel of five discussed ways to get younger and nontraditional residents interested in public service. At one point, he stood along the back wall listening intently, gripping his coffee cup.


“It wasn’t until panel moderator Caroline Kennedy, a former U.S. ambassador to Japan, asked if anyone in the back of the room would like to speak that the former South Side community activist jumped into the conversation.

“‘Politics matters,’ he said. ‘The question then becomes, ‘How do we change the culture so that people are not turned off by politics but rather turned on by being engaged in politics?’ And how do we get some of the best talent to say, at some point, this is an option for them?’”

“The former president said communities have to be engaged and ready to actively support public servants and elected officials.”

Surely some of the would-be youth leaders would have recognized that Obama’s selling the same old message and that communities “engaged and ready to actively support public servants and elected officials” have been let down.

If the 2-day conference proved anything it’s that Identity Politics is (mercifully) coming to an inglorious end.

Not even Prince Harry, advertised well ahead of the event as a Conference “breakout speaker” could not bring ‘em in.

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Jolly good fellow that he is, Prince Harry could have promised as a publicity stunt to morph himself into a frog at the event,  but half the seats still would have remained empty.

Millennials know by now that you can’t count on politicians for a better life.  They know that rubbing shoulders with royals is but only a fleeting moment; that the sun shines in many other places not touted by the momentary glare of publicity.

Folk are tired of Hollywood and the Entertainment Industry dominating the news; tired of the empty promises of politicians, even those who rhyme them off with silver tongues.

Michelle Obama sounded a lot like the embittered Hillary Rodham Clinton when she spoke at an event for the Women’s Foundation of Colorado in Denver back in July, reminding folk that breaking the glass ceiling in becoming the first black first lady left a few lasting emotional scars.

“Obama said she was hurt “knowing that after eight years of working really hard for this country, there are still people who won’t see me for what I am because of my skin color.” The Post says she referenced people calling her an ape and talking about her body. (Chicago Tribune, July 27, 2017)

“Obama says she wants the world to know women endure “small tiny cuts” every day “and we’re still getting up.”

“She reiterated she wouldn’t seek public office but she and former President Barack Obama would remain in public service.”

Obama and Hillary Clinton are behind the times. The world is changing.  For all of her whining and ‘What Happened’ book shilling, Clinton has dropped from Number 2 to Number 65 on the ‘Forbes list of the world’s most powerful women’.

It’s going to take a lot more than Obama’s digitalized omnipresence to bring Utopia about.

For all of their hoopla, and even with Prince Harry as a drawing card, Barack and Michelle Obama could only fill half of the Chicago venue for their first Obama Foundation international summit.

Michelle would say: “Hope is right in this room” while others would say: Welcome to your new reality, Hillary Clinton and Obamas.

Judi McLeod -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years’ experience in the print media. A former Toronto Sun columnist, she also worked for the Kingston Whig Standard. Her work has appeared on Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com.

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