Saturday, August 30, 2008

Anecdotes, swollen legs and feet, heat rash from Denver

The Democratic National Convention yielded lifelong memories for me, wonderful new friends, and swollen legs and feet from walking the greater downtown Denver area for 14-16 hours every day!


Some anecdotes: on Wednesday, during the Roll Call of the States, California passed when called upon for its delegate votes for Clinton and Obama. Illinois did the same, presumably to be the last to report its votes for Obama, its hometown hero. Something big was in the works, and convention staff told Montana that Hillary Clinton would be on the floor for when New York was called upon, but she was running late, and the convention staff needed Montana to stretch its speech and vote report! Dennis McDonald and Carol Williams spoke, and said that Montana is the home of distinguished US Senator Mike Mansfield; Carol mentioned that Montana was home to Norman MacLean, author of A River Runs Through It; she introduced herself as the first woman majority leader in the Montana Legislature. Basically, she and Dennis were brainstorming all the wonderful things to report about Montana while a convention staffer stood in front of them, out of camera view, indicating that they should keep talking!

When the staffer got word that Montana could give its vote total and the other states before New York would also stretch, Carol and Dennis reported Montana's vote total. Soon after, when New Mexico's vote came up, New Mexico yielded its votes to Illinois. Richard Daley, mayor of Chicago, accepted New Mexico's votes along with Illinois' 185. Then Daley yielded those votes to New York!

All of a sudden, Hillary Clinton, with many security personnel, strode down the aisle to the New York delegation and read for New York its 282 votes. She moved that the rules of the Roll Call proceedings be suspended, and that the delegates adopt by acclimation the nomination of Barack Obama for president! It was a very gracious thing to do, and by Obama's opponent in the primary. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, chair of the proceedings, asked for a voice vote, and the motion to adopt passed overwhelmingly.

Another anecdote: the Pepsi Center, presumably to counter all the body heat that thousands of delegates, guests, and press would generate, cranked up the air conditioning so high that sitting in the club level and higher was COLD! The first day, I discovered this and so bought a sweater the next day at Ann Taylor Loft (or, as I fondly refer to it, The Mother Ship). I was shivering so much that my camera shots were blurred the next day, with sleeves down and sweater on! The lady sitting next to me said, "Kinda cold in here, huh?" to which I responded, "You know, I brought a sweater today, and I keep all this extra body fat on for situations just such as this, but crikey, it's cold!"



Another anecdote: this was a "green" convention, and delegations could pay to offset their impact on the environment and be green (Montana and others did, and were recognized with green symbols on their vertical state signs.) But every night, thousands of campaign signs were handed out down every aisle, to every convention-goer, and not recycled!!! You'd think, wouldn't you, that there could be big cardboard boxes by the exits so that people could deposit signs as they left the venue, or staff could collect signs left behind, but no! Tree after tree sacrificed at the altar of the national convention! (I kept my signs as memorabilia, as did others, but wow, what a lot of printing and paper.)

Last anecdote: Every night after the convention, I was approached by a reporter asking for a reaction or comment of the night's speaker or convention happenings. After Hillary Clinton's speech, I was asked by a reporter if I'm a Clinton or Obama pledged delegate. Clinton, I replied. How did I feel about the night's speech? he asked. Proud, I said. Clinton hit all the right notes and said everything she needed to say; it was perfect. She strongly and enthusiastically endorsed Obama, and there was no tone of "it should have been me" anytime in her speech. She was gracious and committed to supporting Obama in the November election. The reporter asked if I was bitter that Hillary wasn't the nominee, or the VP choice. No, I said. Clinton was my choice in the primary election, but she didn't win that election. And that election's over. In the upcoming election, there are two candidates, and Obama is my choice of those two candidates. I don't think there's room for bitterness now; it's counterproductive. Too much to do to dwell on what might have been. And besides, Clinton is strong and serves well in the US Senate. I'm excited to see how she'll serve next.

After Obama's speech Thursday night, a reporter from Ireland asked what I thought. I'm inspired, and motivated, and heard more specifics tonight than before, I said. It's been a campaign about change, and about hope, both honorable goals, but the topics of discussion--jobs, health care, the economy, education, taxes--are what Americans and Montanans talk about and worry about. I was glad to hear some of the hot-button issues addressed head-on. But, I said, as inspired and motivated and proud as I am, I'm fearful for Obama. When this country has had inspiring and charismatic and progressive leaders, they've been assassinated. They're threatening to people who don't want those same things, or changes from those leaders. I'm hopeful, but concerned. We're a great nation; I hope we're brave enough to make the changes to improve ourselves and our standing in the world.

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