AUSTIN, Texas — Two Austin City Council members want to put up a commemorative marker in an Austin park to honor a spot where President Barack Obama gave a campaign speech opposing the Iraq War during the early stages of his first Presidential campaign in 2007. Video of the speech, provided by Fox 7 Austin, provides an intriguing look back in recent history, and some added irony as subsequent events frame his comments in a new light after one and a half terms as President.
The proposal reads as follows:
Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to initiate a public process through the Parks Board to discuss installing a permanent marker on Auditorium Shores commemorating the first large rally of President Obama’s campaign held at Auditorium Shores on February 23, 2007, and to report recommendations to council.
This item is on the agenda for the Austin City Work Council Meeting on Tuesday, as reported by Fox 7, and comes just two weeks after Democrats were shellacked at the ballot box across Texas and nationally. The agenda item was proposed by Council Members Mike Martinez and Kathie Tovo. Austin’s city elections are ostensibly non-partisan, but reviewing Martinez and Tovo‘s campaign websites shows that they support liberal issues. Tovo also describes herself as a “Progressive Voice At City Hall,” and Martinez was endorsed in his recent mayoral campaign by liberal media outlets like the Austin Chronicle and Burnt Orange Report, as well as the South Austin Democrats, the Austin Young Democrats, and several local labor unions.
Fox 7 shared a video clip from Obama’s 2007 speech at Auditorium Shores:
In the speech, Obama attacks his primary opponent Hillary Clinton for supporting the War in Iraq. “I am proud of the fact that way back in 2002 I said that this war was a mistake,” said Obama, adding that he wanted a phased troop pull-out.
Earlier this year, Obama announced that we would begin airstrikes again in Iraq to combat the threat from ISIS, and he has authorized thousands of additional troops to be phased back into the area.
“This is not a matter of ideology. This is not a matter of us acting tough. This is a matter of understanding that when we ask our young men and women to sacrifice on our behalf that we have to make sure that it’s based on sound intelligence. We have to make sure that there’s a strategy that makes sense. We have to make absolutely sure that the strength of our military is matched with the power of our diplomacy.”
Earlier this year, Obama admitted that the power of American diplomacy was apparently insufficient to stabilize the rising unrest and growth of terrorist groups like ISIS, acknowledging that his administration had “underestimated what had been taking place in Syria” and had overestimated the ability and will of the Iraqi army, and so additional exertion of the strength of our military would be needed.
On that day Obama gave his speech in Austin in 2007, Fox 7 reported that Democrats had stood in line for hours to hear him. One young female supporter told reporters that it was “a really important event because it’s probably the only time that he’ll come to Texas because it’s a Republican state or whatever.”
Obama’s supporter was, of course, wrong about him never visiting Texas again. The President has even visited Texas several times this year, although the candidate on the top of the ticket for the Texas Democrats, Wendy Davis, was unwilling to make public appearances with him. Obama’s unpopularity in the Lone Star State and Davis’ ducking of presidential photos ops seems to ultimately have been a moot point, since the Democrat statewide candidates all ended up losing by double-digit margins.
Obama also made headlines earlier this year when he spent two days in the Lone Star State at Democratic Party fundraisers during this summer’s border crisis but rejected invitations to actually visit the border, drawing criticism from Republicans like Sen. John Cornyn and Democrats like Rep. Henry Cuellar.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.