What a difference two years makes.
“He hit all the right notes,” raved Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), about Obama’s talk at the CBC’s annual Phoenix Awards Dinner, which caps off the organization’s annual legislative conference.
“Best speech I’ve ever heard him give,” said Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.)
Even before the president took the stage, the crowd seemed prepared to be wowed. Pre-dinner, the VIP crowd mingled — Members of Congress comprised most of the boldfacers with a few surprises, like Dikembe Mutombo, retired NBA great, who towered over the other guests — anticipating the speech.
“He could stop by and say ‘hi, it’s nice to be here,’ and he’d be a hit,” said former New York Gov. David Paterson. “We’re an easy crowd.”
Apparently, the love-fest was mutual. Twice during his speech, the president told the audience how good they looked. Sure, it was a bit of your standard so-glad-to-be-here patter, but it also had the advantage of being true — from the silver smoking jacket sported by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), to the dazzling rhinestone-encrusted cowboy hat that accessorized the outfit of Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) (chapeaus happen to be her signature, but this one was extra-special).
First Lady Michelle Obama wore a strapless, full skirted gown in white and black plaid with a jeweled belt for her brief turn on the stage as the president was introduced.
But one of the best looks of the night belonged to Rep.Cedric Richmond (D-La.) who, after the program in which he introduced several guests onstage, slipped into a pair of glossy black Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers. He had wanted to wear the kicks, which are designed for black-tie ensembles, during the event, but they were vetoed by CBC Chair Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio).
“What she says goes,” he said.