Visit from the POTUS

Yesterday was the busiest day I’ve seen at The Times thus far. Not only was it the day all the state primary votes would be counted, but it was also the day a certain U.S. president was coming to visit.

And in the middle of it all was a surprise sonic boom heard ’round the Sound.

It’s an understatement to say we all kept busy. Even I, a lowly intern, wasn’t bored for a second. The minute I got to the newsroom that morning, I was immediately whisked off to the Westin Hotel downtown, where Obama was expected to visit for a private fundraiser for current U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, the incumbent in the primary race. Hours before he arrived, mobs of protesters surrounded the hotel. Some of them wanted to open the U.S.-Mexico border and let all immigrants in. Some of them wanted the government to stop spending money on stimulus bills and bailouts. Some of them wanted the president to resign.

And some of them just wanted to sneak a peek of Barack, known in the newsroom as the POTUS (President of the United States).

Alas, even I didn’t get to see the guy, save for a glimpse of his silhouette in the back seat of a black SUV with tinted windows.

I did, however, get to see my name tacked onto the end of the front page story in the next day’s paper for contributed reporting. Plus, I got to see a photo I took on my cellphone on the newspaper’s home page!

And later at night, as the entire Metro staff was busy with election coverage, I went to Rainier Valley to cover a shooting that made it on the top 10 most read list today.

How can it get any better than this?

An epic American night…in Italy

It’s now 2:30 p.m. in what will probably pass as one of the most important political days in my young adult life, but there’s a good chance I won’t remember a minute of it.

Last night, I stayed up without sleeping until 6:30 a.m. (9 p.m. on the West Coast) to watch all the states’ returns come in and to see what everyone already knew was coming–Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. I’ll remember the excitement I felt every time a new state flashed on the MSNBC virtual map, leading us closer to a conclusion to the stat-packed night, and I’ll remember watching the interesting patterns developing in the form of blue and red clumps in the counties of battleground states. And I’ll most certainly remember the first address of the first black president, one delivered with such determined fervor that I could tell Obama knew the serious trouble he was getting himself into and knew he could conquer it all.

It seemed like as good a time as any to #ThrowYourO.

But my memory will probably go fuzzy after the time that I fell into bed at 6:30, especially considering that I had to wake up a mere three hours later. All the more reason, then, to document my findings from newspapers from all over the world in this blog.

I looked up the online translated version of Il Messaggero, the most widely read newspaper in Rome, and my beliefs were instantly confirmed: that most of Italy was overjoyed by Obama’s victory. The paper proclaimed Obama won “by an avalanche of votes”; a reader in support of the outcome wrote in a comment “long live REAL democracy.” European leaders hailed the new president’s election as “a turning point” that made the year a very strong one for democracy in the U.S. and the world (EU president Jose Barroso), a “wonderful example of democracy given from the United States to the world” (Nicolas Sarkozy), and a testament to new “progressive values and a vision for the future” (Britain’s PM Gordon Brown). Even Russia welcomed Obama with open arms, assuring him a “full partership of trust.”

It’s a shame I couldn’t have been right in the middle of the action–say, celebrating on campus with fellow U of O students or dancing on tops of cars with other Santa Cruzans (yes, they really did do that)–but in a way, being in a foreign country for these elections has made me see the importance of the perspective of the world, not just that of the U.S., in these elections. I think the American media focus so much on Americans’ reactions to the election results that they don’t immediately take into account what foreign leaders–and foreign equivalents of the average joe–are saying. Thus, had I been in the U.S. while this was happening, I wouldn’t have thought to read up on foreign perspective.

Thank goodness for the Internet–and thank goodness for study abroad!