Editors Note: This post was written to be posted on Tuesday, September 4th.
Greetings Y’all from soggy Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s all convention, all the time in this town…the welcome mat is out and despite the damp weather (remnants from Isaac still plaguing the south), it’s clear that folks here are excited to be hosting the convention. It’s definitely a different feel than Denver 4 years ago, but I suppose that’s to be expected. The stakes seem higher and the tone is markedly less optimistic — it’s more like manning the battle stations. I’m also not 100% sure that Charlotte is ready for all this. Traffic here is brutal and a few of my colleagues were stranded by cabbies refusing to brave the snarled streets during a torrential downpour yesterday. The hotel where the California delegation is staying just opened it’s second tower last week and I’ve heard that things aren’t going exactly as planned. Sigh.
The beauty of it all is that political conventions are great equalizers – you get to hob nob with all sorts of interesting people. The guy who’s a big deal elected official in his home state is just another guy in a suit who may or may not get recognized here. At a local eatery last evening I watched Bob Schieffer of CBS political commentary fame saunter in for a bite to eat. I chatted with Jesse Jackson at a dinner hosted by convention Chair and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. My opening line…”you’re taller than I thought you’d be.” I also met a guy who my companions said would be the next President of the Dominican Republic and hung out with a trio of Germans, including a local elected official, who were in town to hit the party circuit.
More than just political party happenings, it’s also about good old fashioned parties in convention-land. Companies from all over roll out the red carpet to entertain elected officials, executives, delegates and political consulting types. Last night I hit three – finishing up the evening with a star-studded rock fest and found myself transported back to my high school days…except that I was standing next to a former CA State Assemblyman who was also getting his high school on. Sure, there’s real work being done here too (I’m sure there is, I can’t, however, say that I’ve seen that yet) but really we’re here to rally the troops, energize the true believers, thank the big donors, and embark on that final push to November.
I’m off to get my credentials for today as a part of another time-honored convention activity – the credentials shuffle. You see someone important has a bunch of them and they decide daily who gets to have them. I, of course, cannot reveal my source otherwise a bunch of other people will be mad that I’m getting them and they are not. It’s all very “democratic”… I’ve also decided to be militantly optimistic about the rain, my shoes, however, may not have survived yesterday’s deluge.
But, most of all I’m looking forward to First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech. It’s been said that this election is a “war on women” (more on that in future posts) and I can’t say I disagree given some of the rhetoric from last week’s Republican convention. I know the First Lady will have some choice words for us on that issue and I hope the women of America are as fired up about what’s at stake as I am. It’s hard for me to imagine all that my mother’s generation fought for, like pay equity and freedom of choice in many different senses of the word being thwarted in one fell swoop by a bunch of guys with a “truthiness” problem. Double sigh.
…now where did I put that umbrella?