Fear and Loathing in the Mother of All Swing States...From the Land that Hope Forgot…Making a List and Checking it Twice…Every Spark of Friendship and Love Will Die Without a Home…
Of the first ten houses on my walk lists, two buildings had been demolished, five were boarded up, and one was a homeless shelter. Things picked up for me a little bit as the day went on- I found a some stray Obama supporters here and there, though even they had a forlorn look about the whole thing, definitely not Obamamania. One cracked out resident asked me who I was supporting. Keep in mind that I had just handed him Obama literature, and was wearing an Obama headband and two Obama buttons on my jacket. I told him I was supporting the good Senator. He flashed a gold toothed smile. “Oh, good! I thought you were supporting George Bush! Go Obama!” Other members of my team actually had worse days than I did, reporting that between a third and half of the houses on their walk lists were boarded up, a most intense personalizing of the home foreclosure crisis. I had always assumed things in
The highlight of the canvassing experience belonged to Britt, who stumbled across a vagrant named Stony in an alleyway. After she asked him for directions, he insisted on accompanying her for the rest of the canvass, explaining that God had been telling him to look for a sign. “Maybe this is the sign,” Britt offered. Stony agreed, noting that he had only been on the way to the tobacco store to trade his cd for three dollars anyway, something he could do later. Stony canvassed all day, and after it was all over, pledged to volunteer for Obama for the remaining days until the primary.
While we were listening to Stony’s exploits at the
Looking back, the influence of Strickland and perhaps the last functional machinery operating in the state of
Saturday night we attended a rally with Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who some consider a possible Obama VP. She is the two-term Governor of Kansas, no small feat for a Democrat, and her approval ratings are among the highest in the country. What we saw at the podium that night was someone who could be the first female president. She wasn’t a firebrand, and didn’t demand incessant rounds of applause in her stump speech. But she was precise, in command, and most importantly, soothing in much the same way Obama is. When she speaks of bleak times in the present, it’s only in the context of hope for the future. No one will ever call her shrill. Sebelius would make an excellent Vice Presidential nominee, and I’ll place her in the same boat as Ray Mabus and Jim Webb for that slot. Mark Shields, of Jim Lehrer New Hour fame, was on hand for the event- in fact, Timmy gave him directions to the event when he wandered into the Obama office. He was the most disarmingly friendly person of fame that I’ve ever come across, and I invited him to check out the RovingStorm Dispatches. If you’re reading this, Mark, welcome to the site!
Earlier in the weekend I had run into my Vegas co-worker Kevin Griffith, who after serving as Obama’s communications director in
Thing’s were a little cooler here on the Obama campaign though, Kevin assured me. “Arcade Fire is coming to do four free shows in the state. If you stick around you’ll probably get to see them.” Timmy almost had a heart attack. The choice was clear. We finished a more routine day of canvassing in the Obama friendly
Live from Nelsonville
Nelsonville is an odd little town, full of hipsters, the scene of one of the great late 19th century mining strikes. Our crew of five was among the last people let in to a 450 person opera house. The mood was electrifying, and the band fantastic. Win, the lead singer, opened, “We drove 13 hours to be here, and every second was worth it!” He explained that the following song was written right before the 2004 election, when they knew Bush was going to win. “Hopefully our next album will be more optimistic…”
Second Song (footage from
At one point, Win stepped up to the mic, transparently as giddy to be there as we were. “You know, I don’t if it’s making any difference us being here…but we’re just so excited to be a part of it all…imagine, finally someone we can believe in! Thank you so much for having us!”
Third Song: http://youtube.com/watch?v=8GkIH74E-BI&feature=related
“This is a song Sam Cooke wrote about segregation. We recognize that it’s being sung by a rich white guy, but it still inspires us…”
Fifth Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNfWC4Sgkcs&feature=related
Sixth Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqGiCXtvokM
“I know it’s lame when celebrities tell you what do with your life. Not that we’re celebrities…But just please vote for Obama!”
As an encore, an old Lennon classic…
Eighth Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybysPwL4iLU&feature=related
The energy, the humility, the magic meeting the moment- Arcade Fire is the perfect band to stump for Obama, and the perfect way for us to end our weekend. We drove through the night, arriving in
So why did
Now main streets whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more
They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back to
Your hometown… your hometown… your hometown…
Of course, that was in 1984, and things have gotten worse, not better. Hope doesn’t resonate in these parts, not like fear of the other and the machinations of local party hacks working for Lord Strickland.
Some say that the two-front attack of personally smearing Obama and promoting herself as more likeable worked for Hillary this round. As usual in Clintonian politics, the short sightedness of her strategy is breathtaking. As far as I’m concerned, the trifecta of rabid fear mongering, racism and praising John McCain over her Democratic rival keep her in the solidly ‘despicable’, let alone ‘unlikable’ camp. First, there was the “3am” ad, in which
I have included two clips below. In the first, she touts her and McCain’s experience, disparaging Obama’s experience as “a speech he gave in 2002.” Thanks Hillary, I’m sure that will play well in the general. The second is evidence that Hillary campaign darkened Obama’s face and widened his face and nose in an image, in an attempt to make him look menacing. As the site explains, there is no way to prove this with complete certainty, but the image alteration could not have been an accident, the image was on the Clinton campaign site, and the campaign originally denied knowing about the image’s existence, even though it was on their website as they claimed that!
All this leads me to making the second major distinction between Obama and Clinton, and that is class, as in classiness and dignity. Everyone knows what ugly skeletons lay in the
So, what next? As most of you know, the pledged delegate count still significantly favors Obama, and according to rumors, the Superdelegate totals between the candidates may equalize as soon as tomorrow. Obama is expected to do well in many of the states remaining, such as
These are ugly times, folks, but no one said dismantling the machine would be easy or pretty. As for me, my next trip is to New Orleans, where I’ll lead a crew of law students in helping Katrina victims navigate the horrendous laws designed by Bush and Congress to ‘rebuild’ the Gulf Coast. I don’t when the next political Dispatch will come. This isn’t CNN, after all, and I don’t have to waste your time when I have nothing to say. But to beleaguered supporters in Obamaville, keep your head up. We won Texas, after all, and some say his ground organization there is the most impressive one since LBJ. A poll today shows McCain beating him there by one point in the general election! Hillary is not the worst nemesis Obama will have to deal with as Leader of the Free World. This is a test for him that will build character. This is a test he will pass, a battle he will win, a longer war for change that has only just begun. And so, like rough riders we roll…