By Rachel Kottler
Last week, I learned just how truly unique and amazing the School of Media and Public Affairs is. On Wednesday, I was selected from the School of Media and Public Affairs student ticket raffle to be in the audience for President Obama’s budget speech held in our very own Jack Morton Auditorium. As a graduating senior and an avid Obama supporter, this opportunity meant a lot to me. On top of that experience, on Thursday my class "Across the White House Podium" took a trip to the White House Press Briefing Room where we spoke with White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
Watching President Obama Speak
The Media and Public Affairs building was hardly recognizable on Wednesday. Instead of students filling the halls, there were policemen, metal detectors, cameramen, reporters, and not to mention a few elected officials including Representative Paul Ryan, all the members of the Congressional Budget committee, Vice President Biden, and President Obama. Outside, White House interns checked people in and handed us tickets. I got there early and got to sit in the second row—just a few seats away from the Congressional Budget Committee.
At first, the Jack Morton Auditorium was loud with anxious chatter. After about an hour, the Presidential seal was put on the podium and the audience grew quiet after the announcement that the president would be speaking shortly. I kept checking my watch, waiting for 1:25 to come, and once it did I could not keep my eyes from the stage.
President Obama came to the podium a few minutes late, but spoke for almost an hour. At some points, I could see him looking directly at Representative Ryan and the rest of the Congressional Budget Committee. At other points, like when he referenced the students in the audience, his eyes veered around the room and I felt as though he was looking at myself and the two other students I was sitting with.
From his time on the campaign trial, Obama has been known to be a great orator. However, his cool persona is often criticized for coming off as cold in official speeches. Having had the opportunity to also hear him speak on the campaign trail as well, I must say that although his style now is different now than it was then, the way I felt being in the room was the same. His tone was more serious, but his message of doing what is right for the American people was the same. In my opinion, his harsh tone about not wanting to cut programs that America depends on and programs — like education — that are essential for America to “win the future”, showed just how much he cares. When he referenced himself, and how he personally does not need another tax break while the average American is struggling, I was moved. When he referenced upsetting people in his own party as a liberal Democrat, I even laughed. Read the rest of this entry »