Ann Arbor, Barack Obama, President Obama — April 30, 2010 at 6:51 am

What will Obama tell UMich graduates tomorrow?


Sometimes blogging has its privileges. My wife, a fabulous photographer, and I have media passes to see President Obama’s commencement address to the graduating class of the University of Michigan tomorrow.

With Michigan at the absolute bottom of the pile in terms of unemployment, home foreclosures devastating our neighborhoods and businesses hurting in every part of the state, big and small alike, what will President Obama say to these young people as they graduate and head off into the world?

I believe that his message will be directed at them but that it will also be aimed at the country as a whole. Because, although Michigan is worse off than most states, we are a microcosm of the rest of the U.S. and everyone needs to hear what the president has to say.

Tickets for the event are now gone. The lines to pick up tickets have been amazing for the past three days as this photo from shows:

Photo by Angele Cesere (

Your only hope now is to get one from someone who can’t make it or go to Craigslist where you can pick them up for $50 or so.

Streets around the stadium are already being shut down.

Media types are being asked to drop their equipment off tonight between 9 and 10 pm and doors for media open at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

A tent city of homeless people has been relocated away from the stadium area.

Yesterday, helicopters were seen flying over the Big House (Univ. of Michigan’s football stadium).

A local deli, Zingerman’s, is serving a special gelato called “Baracky Road”.

All for a single speech.

And the president can give a hell of a speech. But this one will be something a bit out of the ordinary, I think. With the U.S. on the cusp of turning the corner economically, I believe that restoring confidence and inspiring people to keep moving forward in the face of adversity is a message we all need to hear.

Beyond the obvious headlines like “Students hope President Obama avoids politics, seeks to inspire in U-M commencement speech” and “U-M grads hope Obama inspires“, I think this speech will have wider implications than just the People’s Republic of Ann Arbor.

I don’t think this is by accident. President Obama knows that inspirational, motivating speeches delivered to the right audience at the right time can make a very big difference and become part of history. Choosing a Midwestern state with a heavy manufacturing sector, one that is particularly hard-hit but also resurgent right now is no accident. He knows his place in history and that he has an opportunity have a huge impact with what he says to the students at U of M tomorrow. I, for one, am expecting great things.

I’ll be live-tweeting throughout the day Saturday if you care to follow me. You can also follow the Twitter hashtags #obamaA2 or #umgrad10. I’ll also be posting to Facebook and you can friend me there. Anne and I will have a photoblog up tomorrow night or Sunday morning.

I’m just sayin’…