Saturday, August 30, 2008

Day 4

"No you won't be naming no buildings after me..."

We flew to Philly yesterday, where we joined T's brother, my mom, and our great friends Pat and Linda for a laughter- and politics-filled conversation about the week T and I have had. It was a great ending to an incredible week.

I'll recap some of the things that happened on Thursday before they flit away. I'll be glad to discuss any of this any time with anyone. I can't imagine getting tired to discussing what it was like to be a part of history.

The Thursday breakfast included an unscheduled speaker, General Merrill McPeak, who ran the organization "Vets for Bush" in Oregon. He attended war college with McCain, and as Chief of Staff for the Air Force, worked closely with him for years. 

He spoke with that kind of quiet authority that guys like that have. When he talked about mobilizing the vet vote for Bush, he said, "So I'm the guy who's fault it is." When he talked about Obama, he described him as "scary smart." He also mentioned being on the receiving end of McCain's famous hothead temper many times, with conversations he had to "hold the phone out here to listen."

He evidently coined the "No Drama Obama" label, too, and talked about how he wants to see someone with that disposition in the role of Commander-in-Chief. He talked about the famous 3 a.m. phone call, and how Obama will figure out all the elements of what's going on before making a big decision--and that's exactly what we need in the world right now, with our military stretched to the brink. He compared the reaction of the two men in the Georgia situation, and how quickly McCain used a Cold War strategy of enemies vs. allies: "We are all Georgian." "Who's we?" the general said. Because, he said, we don't have troops or the European allies to enter into a fight with Russia at this point in our history.

I wished everyone could be there for his talk, because it was so thought-provoking. Here's an article about him, at least.

When it comes to the Mile High stadium event, first of all: While Obama's speech was amazing (I cried with emotion at one point), the mechanics of getting 80,000 people into an event like that was un-fun.

We took the train in because only delegates were allowed on the buses, and I didn't want to abandon T to the chaos. The train was a riot, because all these Denver folks were decked out and ready for the big show. It's amazing the diversity (and by that, I mean the pro-Pentagon white woman who was also pro-Obama next to me on the train) of his support. The announcer came on and explained that they were stopping the train one stop before Invesco...we would have to walk an entire train stop's distance to get there.

So we all piled out, and thousands of people were in every direction with no real idea of where was the right way to go. T and I headed up over the bridge just to have some sense of forward motion, and we ran into a protest that was part pot legalization but mostly the no-war-with-Iran and no-torture folks. They all looked like the WTO people--same bike-messenger look to the young people, who had "counter-delegate" stickers on. 

We were walking on this bridge with a low concrete divider between us (heading to see Obama) and the protesters. The protesters were sort of bored, and started shouting "off of the sidewalk, into the streets." T got sort of nervous at this point, since these kids were directing all this at us. I started shouting back (smiling), "I agree with you! No war with Iran!" 

That made them shout louder.

So I hopped over the division, and flashed them all the peace sign. A huge cheer went up. 

I mean, really--who wants a war with Iran?! So, yeah, hippies, I'm on your side--that's WHY I'm a delegate! I'm thinking they didn't know that our delegation included an Obama delegate who had actually been a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay.

T will post pictures of the lines to get in, but basically, that's where we separated. She wound up waiting 3 hours to get in, and it took me about 90 minutes, even with the delegate entrance, which was obviously a lot shorter. Other delegates weren't as aggressive about asking everyone who looked official about the delegate line, so they got stuck too, and missed a lot of it.

On the floor, lots of people snuck in their partners, which sort of bummed me out. The previous day's badge had a silver star on it, and Thursday's had a gold. In the sun, the people scanning the tickets couldn't really make it out that well, and people used that to their advantage. There was jockeying over seats. It wasn't everyone's best few hours, let's put it that way. I actually didn't want to blog from the floor because it got so crowded as to be scary, and there was a point where when we left to use the media porta-potties (where we saw the entire cast of the Today show, pretty much, include Campbell Brown who was behind me in line), the cops kept us off the floor. I wasn't sure I'd get back to my seat.

But in the end, by about 6:30, both T and I were in the stadium and in our seats. Luckily, I happened to have a protein bar with me (that has pretty much been my dinner every night). 

When Stevie Wonder took the stage, most of the Washington delegation (who has been prone to dance in the aisles in general) had a huge dance party. (I mean, if you can't get down on the night that Barack Obama accepts the presidential nomination--while Stevie Wonder is like 75' away playing "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," you are seriously too uptight for your own good.)

As a hilarious and unexpected side note: Governor Chris Gregoire joined in. My contribution: I started a chant of "Go Gregoire! Go Gregoire!" that everyone picked up. Not to get too philosophical, but I feel like this is the kind of thing that a new generation and Barack Obama are bringing into politics at all levels: that you don't have to be an uptight politician all the damn time. That you can be an actual person, and not get skewered for it. (Annie from the Slog has photos here.)

By the time Obama's life story video came on, there was a hush over the stadium. The enormity of it is something I can't really write about with any eloquence, so I won't really try. I'm sure everyone who watched it had a similar experience. The best way I can sum it up is with that Erykah Badu quote that started this post.

When I was at Mount Holyoke, there was a really unpleasant woman who's great-grandfather had donated the money for one of the dorms. So her last name was literally on her dorm. As a child of a single mother--just like Barack Obama, which was one of the first things that drew me to him--I knew I'd never have my name on a building, that there are the kind of people in America who do, and then there are the rest of us, who basically don't count. 

But with Barack Obama, we have for the first time someone like that, who no one would have ever thought would have their name on a building. At the end of the speech, after it was all over and Michelle and his girls were on the stage with him, it looked like the enormity of what he had done had hit him, too.

Here is someone willing to get beyond the partisanship that has ripped America apart, who can reframe things like gay rights in a way that everyone can understand (and when he included us--me and T--by mentioning that we should be able to visit each other in the hospital, it was a moment I have waited for my entire life). He will get us out of these holes we have created for ourselves, because he is, as that general said, scary smart. He's been an outsider (black in a white world, but raised by white people who love him), and he knows how that feels. In every way that counts, he's one of us, and that will inform every decision he ever makes, and every policy he helps create.

Some people who are reading this blog voted for me as a delegate, and that's why I was able to go, and why I worked so hard while I was there to gather up all the info I could, treating it like a political boot camp to help us win on November 4. 

T will post some more photos (she has great ones from being up that high). But the last thing I want to say in this blog is to those people whose caucus vote gave me the honor of casting a vote in the roll call for all of  us for Obama: Thank you. 

Thank you so much.

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