Five years ago, Barack Obama stood up in Chicago and spoke out against invading Iraq.
"What I am opposed to is a dumb war,” said Obama on October 2, 2002. “ What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.”
“What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income - to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics."
Today, Obama supporters gathered in 18 cities across the United States to rally against the “conventional thinking in Washington, D.C” that led us into that war.
In San Francisco, Westly, Patterson, District Attorney Kamala Harris, Sup. Sophie Maxwell and Rev. Melinda McClain kicked off a noontime rally outside City Hall.
Standing in front of a sign that summarized Obama’s four-point plan “To turn the page in Iraq,” Harris noted that when Obama spoke out against the war in October 2002, he took any extra courageous stance since he was running for the US Senate at the time.
“He told people that what this country should really be focusing on was the real threat in Afghanistan as presented by Al Qaeda, “ Harris recalled.
Sup. Maxwell described Obama as having" his finger on the pulse of America."
“I’m supporting him because he supports what my constituents feel, which is that we need to be out of Iraq immediately,” Maxwell said.
Westly and Maxwell discuss why Obama rocks their socks
“Once in a generation there comes a leader like Obama who can bring all people together,” former State Controller Steve Westly said. “He may not have the expertise that Washington wants, but he has the experience and common sense that America needs. That’s why a recent Newsweek poll showed Senator Obama in first place. “That’s why he is going to win the primary and restore America to the greatness we should enjoy again.”
Rev. Melinda McClain, United Church of Christ, San Francisco told the crowds that “like any good preacher Senator Obama knows when it’s time to take a stand and stop being a compromiser. I hope many others of faith will find their way to him.”
Eva Jefferson Paterson, President and a founder of the Equal Justice Society, (second from left) commented that “here we are standing on the bluest spot in the bluest state, while men and women are dying in Iraq,” as she reminded the crowd that, "Barack Obama was one of the few leaders who didn’t compromise. With Bush beating the drum for a strike on Iran, it's time for a new leader to stand up. It’s an issue of life and death.”
School Board member Hydra Mendoza talked about how the cost of the Iraq war to kids' education and lives.
Pointing out that five years ago decisions were made that have led to “19, 20 and 21-year-olds being killed who have just graduated," Mendoza said, ”Barack Obama is looking at the bigger picture. How much are we spending in Iraq in a day? How many kids could we educate with that money? It’s sickening. We don’t invest in public education, but we have no problem writing a big check to a place where kids won’’t get educated but are going to get killed.”
Emphasizing that Obama supports, “people’s rights to participate in the things they want, including making decisions about their priorities and how their tax dollars are distributed,” D.A. Harris summed things up thus: “The day we elect Barack Obama, we send a loud message to the rest of the world about who we are, and Americans will undo years and years of failed Bush adminstration policies.