Speechless in Charlotte
Speechless in Charlotte
I’m a couple days and big events behind in relating observations and experiences. I imagine most readers are pretty familiar with the major public events in the last 24 hours. The speechifying in the convention hall on Tuesday was impressive, inspiring and pretty direct. It’s clear that the President is embracing those issues that the opposition has tried to hang around his neck. Those attending are glad to hear this and I think the response to Deval Patrick’s admonishment that Democrats need to grow a spine and defend this administrations agenda and accomplishments may have been the most boisterous until we heard from The First Lady. What could I possibly say about Michelle Obama that hasn’t been said, posted, tweeted, retweeted, and quoted? The atmosphere was electric and the convention got everything it expected and so much more. I tweeted last night “Michelle rocks the house without saying a word.” But you already know that if you watched and hopefully felt the same way at home. So I’ll try to catch up on the last couple days.
Monday was the first meeting of the Maryland delegation and we were briefed on the logistics of getting to and from caucus meetings, receptions and actual convention. There were thorough and for some, disappointing explanations about credentials and what activities guests had access to. There were apologies for the bus snafus on Sunday afternoon and improvement were promised, that have largely been kept, at least by the transportation arranged by the Maryland Democratic Party (MDP). On the other hand, the DNCC transportation has been a little more problematic. The surprise guest was DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or DWS as she is referred to around here. She was effusive in her praise for our delegation and for the impact that our members of Congress have and the clear choice that this election presents. Commentator David Goodfriend entertained and educated us on campaign talking points and media bias then brought out an empty suit as a surrogate for the challenger. J. David Cox, AFGE president reminded us that working families are the heart of our country and that’s what the campaign would be about. Lots of head nodding and enthusiastic applause for each speaker and for Party Chair Yvette Lewis. We were ready to go.
Then it was off to caucus meetings at the convention center. I’ll blog about the caucus experience in a separate post.
Since it was Labor Day it was CarolinaFest in downtown Charlotte, a major street festival, with musical acts including Jeff Bridges and headliner favorite son James Taylor. A street festival normally blocks lots of streets and there is lots of security. Add to that the closures and security associated with this convention and you get a more complicated picture. Despite the complications, reports were that it was a great street festival, something Charlotte folks are rightly proud of. Then add weather to the mix. A deluge stopped the Bridges concert in which Martin O’Malley had been slated to join on guitar and vocals. We arrived after the first rain near the performance stage, which was surrounded still by happy but wet people, and small world that it is, ran into the familiar face of Jeremy Vest who was in town to report for Howsyournews.com. Then another friend, Washington Post/NPR/MSNBC pundit E.J.Dionne walked by and we were able to chat about all things convention and family. It was great to be able to introduce the two journalists to each other.
The rain stopped and the crowd built in front of the stage, and politicians appeared to introduce James Taylor. He began the singalong concert. Lots of smiling, happy, wet people and everyone knew the words and didn’t mind the light drizzle that started. By the third number, people were still singing and smiling but the umbrellas were out, then the deluge began. One thing about smartphones is you can pull up a weather radar map and there was a big orange spot covering Charlotte. Within seconds everyone was soaked and crowding into shelter anywhere it could be found, including the portajohns. We did learn that Charlotte drains well.
Quite an adventure before the next Delegation event hosted by Baltimore County Exec Kevin Kaminetz and Ike Leggett (who was stuck on the tarmac in DC), neither of who seem to be running for governor. Most folks walking in were soaked as well, but the food was hot, drinks were cold, tables were dry and conversation was friendly. There were two pool tables and I noticed immediately that Senator Jamie Raskin seemed to be the resident shark for the evening. Politicians were working the tables, but more casually than usual, highlighted by friendly banter, false modesty and self-deprecation. The highlight was the first karaoke performance of the evening, our own Yvette Lewis performed Natural Woman to perfection. The things you learn about people when they relax.