Friday, September 5, 2008

One more post, after having a chance to reflect

We have gotten such great feedback from friends and friends of friends about this blog. It's been an amazing experience, and thanks for reading our thoughts about this crazy process.

Since the convention, we've all of course heard from the Republicans, who believe that personal, Karl-Rovish, mean-spirited personal attacks from a woman who named her family pet for an oil pipeline are going to help bring this country together. (She also fibs a squinch about the Bridge to Nowhere money.)

To me, this seems like the best turn of events possible, because it shows how freaked out the Republicans are. They're even criticizing community organizers, like, um, me. Yeah! How dare we try to make this country better! Someone get these foolish whippersnappers off my front lawn!

But personal attacks aren't going to help close Guantanamo Bay.

They're not going to clean up the subprime mortgage mess, created by Republican deregulation mania, or the credit mess yet to come.

When all the silly, fun political theater is over, this is a contest of ideas about how to fix a country just about everyone agrees has gone off the rails. This year, we have the option of a president who actually understands that his job is to uphold our Constitution.

But, frankly, this is going to be a tough fight. They want that Supreme Court with three more Alitos on it. We need your help.

Some of us are really giving our all, including delegates who you just wouldn't have thought, based on their personal history, would be willing to fight for America any more. (And, yes, he's from the 43rd LD--same legislative district as me!)

Can you help?

If you live in Washington State, can you be a Neighborhood Leader who knocks on neighbor's doors and makes sure everyone is registered to vote? (If you want to know more about this--or if you want company knocking on doors, I'll come with you!)

If you hate the idea of knocking on doors, could you join local events like making buttons to send to swing states?

If you have $50 to help Obama fight these smear attacks, could you send it his way?

If you're cash-strapped and time-strapped, could you take 10 minutes on your lunch break and write your local paper a letter, letting them know why Barack Obama is the candidate who will get our country back on track?

And, as Howard Dean said, if you want to see Obama win, the single best thing you can do is talk to your friends and family about this election. If we each talk to 25 people, Howard said, we will win this thing.

We head back to Seattle tomorrow, and I plan to be a blur of activity for Barry from now until November 5. We're going to win this thing, but it sure would be nice to get a chance to see you all while all that hard work goes down.

Thanks again for reading.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


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The Stage

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View from the Top of Invesco

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The Big Finish

Just to be a completist, I want to add my perspective to the last day of the convention. As a guest, I had a surprising amount of access throughout the con to caucuses, process meetings, speeches, events, and meals. The public entrances to these things were managed extraordinarily well. I thought I would have to wait in long lines while J sailed in on the wings of delegate power. Not so! When we attended things together, she usually came through the public entrance with me, because it was moving as fast and efficiently as the delegate entrance. Security was tight, and I've been through more metal detectors than I care to contemplate, but no complaints...

... until the big Thursday speech. Hoo boy, was that an interesting day. J elected to take the light rail to Invesco Field with me, even though she had the option of a delegate-only bus. At the station, we jumped onto a crowded train and cheerfully exchanged stories with the rest of the pumped-up Obama fans. Gamely trudging the mile or so from the train station to the stadium, we were still feeling great (see J's post about her amusing protester placation action).

Then we hit the line. I heard later that it was 6 miles -- that's six miles -- long. Jen didn't want to leave me, but I knew she'd never make it to her floor seat on time if she waited with me. We were getting estimates of a 2-3 hour wait. So she went off to find the delegate entrance while I kept walking along the line to find the end of it. Finally found the end in a parking lot above the main stadium parking lots. So I joined the queue -- thousands of people bunched together as far as the eye could see -- and sipped my water.

Ha ha, it sure is hot, I thought. I sipped my water bottle. The line serpentined tightly through the parking lot and then wound up and around a hill before heading back toward the stadium. No cops or officials of any kind were present, so people seemed to be policing the lines themselves. The line would occasionally lurch forward about 10 feet, then stop again. After about an hour, I saw something that filled me with horror.

Another end of the line.

Then another.

Others noticed it, too, and a small panic ensued. A-types started walking the lines, trying to figure out which went where. At one point, a man behind me was repeatedly yelling "IT'S A LINE TO NOWHERE! WE'RE GOING IN CIRCLES!" which was sort of funny except not. Because he was right. The line I was in circled back on itself.

I turned to the 77-year old woman next to me and said, "When we get to the top of the parking lot, we are going to merge with that other line... I think we can do it with a lot of smiles and not make them too mad... are you with me?"

She nodded, her lips set and eyes peering out at the horizon. I checked her water bottle. It was about 1/4 full, and the sun was beating down on us, reflecting off the pavement in nausea-inducing waves. I stood on the sunny side of the line, trying to provide body shade to my elderly friend.

Lines merged, tempers flared, curses were lofted to the DNC, the mayor of Denver, the police. Some people left, but one of the ways out was blocked by the police now (no, I don't know why) and the other way involved walking several miles back to the rail station, where, we heard, the trains were no longer running. A strange, heat-induced calm fell over the crowd.

Hours passed. We circulated slowly around the parking lot, thousands of us, just shuffling at this point, trying to ration out our water. Conspiracy theories surfaced. Alliances formed and were broken. My new friend's water was gone, and I was saving the dregs of mine just in case she needed it. A reporter behind me made a call -- "Hey, I'm supposed to be at an interview with Harry Reid, I'm not going to make it."

After 3 hours, the cops showed up. I think someone must have called someone, because they arrived in force, descending on our asphalt hell in SWAT gear with huge truckfuls of water bottles. The crowd broke into a ragged cheer and people poured water all over themselves and each other.

The police sorted out the multiple lines on our end and must have done something on the stadium end, because suddenly, we were moving... running even! Shouts of "Obama! Obama!" started up, and we coursed grinning and light-headed through the metal detector tents and into the stadium.

I was in my seat in time for the generals and admirals. Just missed Al Gore.

Total wait: 4 hours. I would have done it for a new Lord of the Rings movie in a heartbeat. I have no regrets, but I have some complaints. I think someone should have made a better line-handling plan for the crowd. It all happened because parking was not allowed at the stadium and everyone had to be personally searched. Both excellent and effective security measures, but both requiring a different management plan than the one used for football games.

Still, when Obama walked onstage, and I watched 75,000 people cheer their hearts out for a better tomorrow, I was as happy as a clam at high tide. I felt a surge of compassion and well-wishing for the convention organizers, for the hard-working police and hot dog vendors, for the protesters, for the delegates, for the politicians and bureaucrats.

What a great time I had. Thank you, J, for inviting me along.

Now let's get out there and get Obama elected so we can have some dang health care. Some of us have heat stroke.

Emerging at last from the Parking Lot of Doom

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