I wasn't expecting to write about the Darfur rally in Washington Sunday, but a few state-related things struck me while I was there.
Among the long list of speakers New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D). The governor, who had worked on trying to stop the killing of thousands in the western region of Sudan when he was a member of the U.S. Senate, touted New Jersey's efforts to divest itself of all assets tied to the Sudanese government and business.
Three states -- Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon -- have voted to rid themselves of Sudanese assets, according to a report here. While similar efforts proved popular in the fight against Apartheid in South Africa, a 2000 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court involving a Massachusetts divestment law for Burma has cast doubt on states' authority to meddle in foreign affairs that way. An analysis in the wake of that ruling by the National Conference of State Legislatures suggests states may have some wiggle room under the decision. But as Stateline.org reports, states aren't shying away from the foreign arena; in fact, they're charging right ahead into it.
In any event, Corzine's speech steered clear of those thorny issues, as you might expect. And, despite following U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Corzine managed to get the crowd going. I don't have a transcript, but, relying just on memory, he told the crowd something close to: "People say politicians are leaders. We're not leaders, we're followers. If you lead us, we will follow. And then (people around the world) will follow us."
Obama, by the way, got the second-loudest ovation of the speakers I saw, eclipsed only by George Clooney and his father. The celebrity senator started off with a few verses from Proverbs that seemed particularly on-point (I didn't take them down, though). His build up was pretty slow, but he did eventually hit some pretty forceful notes. I think the crowd was pretty satisfied. (I covered Obama as a state senator in Springfield before he became the superstar he is now, so it's always interesting for me to watch him now).
UPDATED: Obama quoted Proverbs 24:11-12, which go something like this:
11 Deliver those who are drawn toward death,
And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.12 If you say, "Surely we did not know this,"Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it?He who keeps your soul, does He not know it?And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?