Monday, September 1, 2008
I witnessed some really interesting episodes in intraparty politics. The divisions between Clinton and Obama delegates were real, if somewhat overhyped by the press, at least in Colorado. I saw some occasional ugliness along these lines, some of it bordering on physical confrontation. I also saw delegates overcoming these divisions. I believe Hillary's speech on Tuesday did much to help this (hopefully the surveys we collected will bear this out). And the Wednesday roll call, culminating with Hillary's motion to suspend the vote and nominate Obama by acclamation, during which Hillary went beyond mensch-like behavior to approach a state of grace, was particularly cathartic. I witnessed her delegates applauding and crying and being embraced by magnanimous Obama delegates. That didn't completely heal the rift -- I believe a few Clinton delegates are still not sure how or whether they'll vote in November -- but it took care of most of it.
The emotions continued on Thursday night. It was a great day at Invesco, and would have been an exciting enough event without Obama's speech. Besides, we'd already heard such incredible speeches from Bill and Hillary, and from Gore. I was frankly very proud to see the pool of talent in the Democratic Party. But Obama was just amazing that night, even if everyone predicted he would be anyway. My Blackberry, usually buzzing all day long with new e-mails, fell silent, and I realized that just about every human being I knew was watching the same thing I was watching. Being in the midst of 80,000 people, participating in something that felt like part speech, part U2 concert, part megachurch revival, was just astonishing. It felt like what politics is supposed to be. It had both substance and spectacle.
Great politicians have their own hooks. Reagan, as Peggy Noonan described him, could make you feel like he felt lucky to be with you. Bill Clinton can make you feel like he completely understands what you're going through. Obama makes you feel like you're part of a movement. I fully recognize that it's not a movement -- it's a candidacy. But it's a rare politician that can convey that feeling. Sometimes we support politicians for purely instrumental reasons -- we want lower taxes or particular favors or policies from government and figure we can get it from a particular politician. Sometimes we support politicians simply because they suck somewhat less than the people they're running against. But people actually enjoy the act of supporting Obama. You feel like you're part of something important and historical. That is rare.
To be a delegate, particularly in a caucus state, is to be, at least for a short time, a local politician. I have to say I enjoyed the perks that came with the job: the media attention, the VIP treatment, the camaraderie with other state politicians, etc. It was good for me to quickly detox at an academic conference. My grad school advisor expressed concern that he might lose me to politics. I don't think there's much danger of that, but I do see the allure.
Anyway, I'm trying to get back to some measure of objectivity here. I'll keep this blog on-line as a repository of my thoughts as they were happening, although I'm not likely to add to it beyond this. I do need to write down more of my experiences at the convention, and maybe I'll attempt to get something published along these lines.
For now, I should just thank all the people who made this possible. In particular, I want to thank the six students -- Evan Corzine, Chris Fettig, Jeffrey Graves, Jeremy Montano, M.J. O'Malley, and Kelsey Yamasaki -- and one faculty member -- Steven Fisher -- who helped get me elected as a delegate. I'd also like to thank Meredith Bennett for her advice on my campaign flier. Thanks also to Emily Pierce, who apparently is responsible for my appearing on TV, and to all the thoughtful readers of this blog, who provided entertaining and informative comments all through the week. I am grateful to my co-authors Michael Heaney, Joanne Miller, and Dara Strolovitch for suggesting such an interesting convention research project, which is what led to my long journey to become a delegate in the first place. I should also thank the Obama delegates to the 1st Congressional District convention who were kind enough to pick me as their representative. A big shout out to the Denver Democratic Party, which somehow scraped together some funds to pay for its delegates' hotel rooms. And a hearty salute to Pat Waak, chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, for providing leadership and advice in what looked like a pretty frantic time.
I will continue to write political and pop-cultural postings over at my regular blog, Enik Rising, so feel free to read and comment over there when the mood strikes you. But for now, adieu, and thank you for visiting.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
probably exposed to more religion in that week than I was in the
previous 10 years. Every convention session started with a prayer
and ended with a benediction. Same thing with every delegation
breakfast. So I attended three or four prayers a day for four days.
The party made a point of inviting a range of religious leaders to
deliver these prayers, so we heard from pastors, rabbis, imams, and a
Buddhist priestess. It was actually quite nice to hear so many
different types of prayers, with so many different areas of emphasis.
Probably due to familiarity, the prayers of the rabbis resonated the
most with me. The emphasis on social justice and righteousness,
combined with a self-effacing form of humor, just really appeals to me.
But yes, I was exposed to faith through my participation in a
Democratic convention. Whoda thunkit?
We delegates have the nicest accommodations...
Rep. Diana DeGette and former Denver Mayor Federico Peña
Gray Davis? Hanging with the Coloradans?
Delegates staying on message...
The Montana delegation enjoys the spoils of war
Friday, August 29, 2008
Still, is this a wise choice for the campaign running on experience?
McCain thinks Obama is risky, but he, a man in his 70s who has fought
multiple bouts with cancer, picks someone younger and less experienced than
Obama for his veep?
"Man kann die Bedeutung von Obamas Antrittsrede kaum überbewerten", folgert Professor Seth Masket, Politologe an der Universität von Denver.According to Google's translator, this is roughly what I said, translated from English to French to German to English: "You can see the importance of Obamas inaugural hardly overestimate."
That sounds about right.
-Hunger -- We were fed breakfast every day, but you had to really work the reception scene to get free lunches. I sometimes missed dinner since it's so hard to get on or off the convention floor after 6pm. I ate very few vegetables.
-Sobriety -- There were drinks to be had, but I was exhausted and dehydrated by the end of every day and had to be up for a 7AM delegate breakfast every morning. I really just wanted water. I'm old.
-It's good to be a gangsta -- Delegates are accorded a good deal of deference throughout the convention week, and we do lots of media interviews. Many are representing pretty sparsely populated areas and get a lot of press from their home town papers and tv stations. We get our own buses, we get lots of cool swag, members of Congress treat us as colleagues, etc. I'll miss that.
-Lots of foreign press -- I did interviews with French and Italian tv reporters as well as print journalists from Spain, China, and India. I'm guessing not too many American reporters are assigned to cover European party conventions.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
brilliant). I'm on a bus waiting to leave the stadium. The bus departure
is complete chaos. Dozens of buses are sitting here with their engines
running, burning off untold quantities of $3.80/gallon gas.
I keep hearing that the GOP is criticizing this as a rock concert. Damned
straight. What was the secret of Schwarzenegger's 2003 campaign? He made
politics fun. People who didn't closely follow politics wanted to get
I look around and I see people having fun. Sweating profusely, but having
Many alert readers wrote in to say that they saw me not once, but twice, during last night's speeches. I'm hoping the folks at the Klugie happy hour at APSA get to see me doing my Courtney Cox dance with the Boss tonight on live TV.
A closeup. I was tired, but it looks like I'm about to vote the right way.
Big Bill speaks.
Sen. Ken Salazar and state party chair Pat Waak get ready to announce Colorado's vote totals. (55 Obama, 15 Clinton)
The big screen, as Hillary moves to suspend the roll call vote and nominate Obama by acclamation. Awesome moment.
Shutterbug Pat Leahy making the rounds.
Sen. Mark Udall at our delegation breakfast.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Blackberry. Anyway, there are still some serious divisions, although I
think HRC's speech mollified them somewhat.
The HRC folks, at least in Colorado, are much more organized and informed
than the Obama folks. The breakfast vote caught some of us by surprise,
and we figured the HRCers would hit the roof. But they knew it was coming
and at least some had been in on the negotiations. One said to me, "We
lost. There's nothing left to complain about." I don't know how universal
that feeling is among the HRCers.
I have no idea how the vote will be announced or recorded tonight, or
whether there will be objections to the format of the vote. I've heard
rumors that the NY delegation will move to nominate by acclamation, but
It's weird being so close to the news without time to read a paper or watch
Fellow delegate Jonathan Singer.
Me and my college buddy John Perez, who's becoming a member of the California Assembly next year.
This is what we see in front of us every night.
Elizabeth Kucinich, again. (I swear she's following me.)
Me, Gov. Bill Ritter, and fellow delegate Susie McMahon.
Me and Willie Brown!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
than she is.
Schweitzer's energetic petrol-bashing.
Kucinich's awesome impression of a populist frog being electocuted.
Whoever said that Bush started his presidency on third base and then stole
Oh, and Jen Victor in Pittsburgh reports that she saw me on MSNBC right as Hillary's speech ended. I'm apparently right behind the dancing father-daughter delegate team of Bob and Sara Khim.
Correction: I was standing behind Bob Kihm and Wendy Wilson.
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), in a panel discussion Monday sponsored by The Denver Post, Politico and Yahoo News, agreed that significant healing is necessary over the next three days.
“Yes, there’s some wounds,” he said. “Yes, there’s some scabs. But sometimes, underneath a scab, there’s a little bit of pus, but we have to put some disinfectant on it so we that can heal the wound and move forward. That’s what the convention is about.”
Monday, August 25, 2008
I also got to meet former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, who was just in prison until a few months ago. He's a real life political prisoner.
And here I am being interviewed by 9News (click on "delegates gather.") Watch for the money shot of me chewing.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Pedometer. From Astra ZenecaI think I'll also be getting a Colorado Democrats goody bag. I'm guessing it contains buffalo jerky. Or maybe elk jerky! We'll see.
Sanitizing gel with clip. Sponsored by Hogan & Hartson lawfirm
Joint Juice. Sponsored by Joint Juice.
Mints by UPS.
Mints by ProLogis real estate.
Chapstick by FedEx.
AT&T lapel pin and free ring tone card
Bunch of pens, one of which is made from recycled materials
Friday, August 22, 2008
I received an email today from someone very, very close to me who works in an important position for a company that is working directly with Invesco Field at Mile High. They had a meeting at the convention center with a couple of (company name) political consultants, one of whom is the daughter of a very well known concert promoter here in Denver. She told my brother that her father has signed Bruce Springsteen to play at the Obama acceptance speech!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
On a conference call last night for her 1800 national delegates, Hillary explained that she is 100% committed to taking back the White House and working hard to elect Sen. Obama as the Democratic Party nominee.A conference call with 1,800 people? Wow.
Hillary encouraged her delegates to be focused on the goal to defeat McCain and the republicans this fall. Sounding very upbeat and excited, Hillary spoke of campaigning for Sen. Obama in New Mexico and remarked that she has explained to voters that she has so much more in common with Sen. Obama than McCain.
Hillary commented that she was pleased that her delegates reflect the strength and diversity of the party and thanked everyone for their hard work. She looks forward to seeing everyone in Denver and mentioned a convention reception and other operational items that her remaining staff are working on. The mechanics of when and how delegates would be released was not discussed.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I'm really hoping the DNC equips each delegate with a PDA, a headset, and a personal assistant, or this thing is going to be unnavigable.
Friday, August 15, 2008
The Denver Post's analysis of yesterday's announcement that Hillary Clinton's name will be submitted for nomination at the convention suggested that this decision will be good for intraparty politics, but could hurt Obama against McCain. According to the article,
This is true, but misleading. In the cases of 1976 and 1980, it confuses the cause and the effect. Gerald Ford ('76) and Jimmy Carter ('80) were challenged from within their party precisely because they were weak incumbents who looked likely to lose in the fall. Conversely, Reagan was highly popular in 1984 and had a strong economy backing him up. Does anyone seriously think that Mondale would have beat Reagan if Gary Hart hadn't challenged him for the nomination?
In three similar scenarios at national conventions in the past 35 years, when there have been large splits within one party during the convention itself, the candidate ultimately didn't win the general election.
In 1976, Ronald Reagan challenged Gerald Ford's nomination at the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Mo. Jimmy Carter won that year.
In 1980, Sen. Edward Kennedy challenged Carter's nomination — and Reagan won. And in 1984, 1,200 delegates voted for Sen. Gary Hart on the convention floor rather than Walter Mondale. Reagan won again.
It is certainly possible that appearances at the convention could hurt Obama. If a bunch of Clinton delegates are photographed scowling after the vote and sitting on their hands during Obama's speech, that would hurt. But this event could also work to the Democrats' advantage if it shows delegates literally in the act of overcoming their differences and rallying behind the nominee.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The Hillary and Obama campaigns have finally reached an official deal on how to handle her role at the convention -- her name will be placed in nomination, as a way to assuage her embittered supporters and minimize the possibility of strife at the Denver gathering, according to two sources familiar with the deal.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Matt seems to think a vote could work out for everyone, painting the following scenario:
Time it to end at 10:05 - just after the networks come on the air. Obama goes over the top - everyone celebrates - great visuals. Then, the NY delegation asks to be recognized. A certain former president, and superdelegate, asks that the nomination of Obama be made unanimous. The motion passes, and a great celebration of party unity follows. Five minutes of that, and a voice comes on the loudspeaker, saying, ladies and gentlemen, the next vice president of the United States, and the VP nominee comes to the podium.I tend to agree. Something like that could work nicely.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The big cause among Clinton supporters right now seems to be that her name is formally submitted for nomination at the convention and that a full vote is held. See this press release by Clinton Democrats for more. Some of the comments there are very telling. For example:
If Hillary’s name is not on the ballot in Denver, I will make sure that I am no longer a registered Democrat and will support the Republican nominee.I am really curious how or whether this gets resolved in the next two weeks.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
I fully recognize that there are challenges to studying a phenomenon while being a part of it. Larry Bartels is probably at the extreme end of this measure of concern -- word has it that he refuses to vote because he thinks it's improper for him to influence, even in a small way, his field of study. Other political scientists aren't quite so doctrinaire -- Daron Shaw and John Petrocik are quite up front about their occasional work for political candidates but also manage to do top notch scholarly analysis. The risk, of course, is that you end up seriously affecting what you're allegedly studying, as Jane Goodall may have done when she fed Gombe chimpanzees and possibly started a war between them. Or, one could become like "Buckaroo Banzai's" Emilio Lizardo (whose face graces the top of this blog as a reminder to me), who used himself as a subject in an experiment and eventually became a bipolar genocidal maniac.
I have no doubt that it's harder to do unbiased scholarship if you have a dog in the race. You have to constantly check yourself for bias. On the other hand, Jonas Salk probably wanted his vaccine to work before he discovered that it did. Many American scientists doing work for the government during WWII did excellent work but were also motivated by a desire to see their country win and to keep their findings/atomic power/the Ark of the Covenant from falling into the hands of the Nazis.
Great, now I've compared myself to Jonas Salk, Robert Oppenheimer, and Indiana Jones. I'm just going to a freakin' convention.
Anyway, my intent in maintaining this blog is to provide all of you with lots of accounts, pictures, and analysis that you might not get from just watching the convention on TV. I still need a Blackberry or an iPhone to help me do that, but I'm working on that. Meanwhile, feel free to submit comments or suggestions for anything I can do to improve this blog.