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Stateside: Democratic Convention Day 3, Part One

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Democratic Convention Day 3, Part One

On Wednesday at 3 pm, the first item of business at the convention was that Hillary Clinton’s name would be placed in nomination along with Barack Obama’s for consideration to be the Democratic candidate for President in 2008. Clinton had spoken to convention delegates the night before and urged them there—and at breakfast meetings the next morning—to nominate Barack Obama instead of her.

For Tuesday’s nationally televised primetime convention speech, Clinton wore orange—the color used by the movement to impeach Bush and Cheney. Oh, okay, she just wore that color because it looked nice against the blue backdrop, but it does suit her and she might consider becoming the poster child for impeachment so she can look her best at all times. (I was remiss yesterday in saying that the DHS had issued a press release dated yesterday showing the threat level being at yellow—the press release date changes each day automatically and the threat level has been at yellow for a while.)

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Around 1pm, the regular transit bus I had taken to get within walking distance of the Pepsi Center inched its way down 15th Street amid far more than the usual number of Coach USA shuttles picking up delegates, who nonetheless were waiting in long lines to board them.

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Alongside the line of people waiting to go through the security checkpoint, the Rev. Al Sharpton was cheerfully posing for photographs with delegates passing by.

When the opening gavel fell, the Pepsi Center was way less than half full, but a steady stream of delegates continued coming in as the roll call was being taken for the nomination. As each state delegation was asked for its votes, most of their spokespeople gave a lengthy preamble enumerating the reasons for their state’s greatness—from major league sports teams, or even the college women’s hockey league winners, to Democratic officeholders and would-be 2008 election victories, to natural wonders and famous sons and daughters in history, to innovations in business and technology.

Pity the poor states whose names begin with the letter N and up who never got to sing their own praises. Here’s what was concocted in order to make the lengthy recitations of glories and numbers of votes for each candidate interesting for the media covering it.

By the time the roll call got to California, it was clear that the majority of states were casting votes for both Obama and Clinton. So far, there had been more for the former than the latter, and that trend continued, including the votes from Florida and Michigan whose delegates had initially been excluded from the convention floor because they held their primaries early.

California chose to pass, that is, give no votes at that time. Since California has the greatest number of delegates, that move opened up the possibility that Obama might not reach the required number to qualify as the nominee because states were still splitting their votes two ways.

The roll call got to Illinois, Obama’s home state. Not so fast at being a deal-maker-or-breaker, California! Illinois passes too. By 4:20pm we’re only up to Massachusetts. As the roll call continues, we learn that Minnesota has the highest voter turnout in the country, and that Montana was the home of Jeannette Rankin, first woman member of the U.S. Congress, and has perhaps the highest number of American Indian delegates, 20 percent of its delegation.

BTW, did you know that Rankin spent some time living in Wellington, NZ, working as a seamstress? It was there, in a country that gave women the vote in 1893, that she became convinced that women’s suffrage was a worthy endeavor. She was also famous and derided as a pacifist for refusing to vote for the US entry into World War One.

Nebraska’s claim to fame of having a unicameral legislature didn’t merit any applause, sadly. Then, from New Hampshire on, the delegations begin voting unanimously for Barack Obama, until New Mexico moves its pawn to block either the black king or the white queen—by this time I’m thoroughly confused--and yields to Illinois. Black knight in shining armor that it is, Illinois yields to New York.

At which point a terrific hubbub fills the center as Hillary Clinton herself enters and walks over to join the NY delegation. As you already know, she moved to suspend the convention rules and have Obama nominated by acclamation.

Here’s the audio of how this last bit went down, including the Convention Secretary, Alice Thermond, asking New York how it will vote, and the nanosecond between when Convention Chair Nancy Pelosi says, “All those opposed, say no” and when her gavel hits the podium. The audio ends with a taste of the terrific band that’s playing the breaks in the convention business agenda belting out Love Train, during which the delegates—some in tears at having all their hard work for Clinton amount to naught—shook their collective booty.

In Part Two, I set out to head for the Nader/Gonzalez Super Rally to be held that evening at the far-off University of Denver and instead get caught up in a protest march, protest cycle ride, and traffic brought to a stop by the Secret Service.



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