Saturday, April 19, 2008

Filch It Friday

New meme, which I found thanks to Well Read Hostess, and created by Meg at Simply Nutmeg.

Want to join in the fun?
Here's how it works:
Write an original copy-cat version of the filched post. Don't just copy and paste their post!
Give credit to and link to the original author in your post.
Mention and link to Filch It Friday in your post.
Post on Friday and sign the Mr. Linky at Simply Nutmeg.
Every week visit the blogs that have filched and consider filching from them on the following Friday. Thus, we'll be creating memes within a carnival!

I am filching "PA as the next IA?" from Mary at trying to figure it out.

Thanks to the convoluted voter registration histories in our house, we have been getting calls for happening politically in our county. Ok, not quite true. O'Boyfriend seems to have written us off and has not called. (But I'm not bitter.) Even when he was at the school where my taxes go, we weren't called. Hill.ary, OTOH, is calling me about as often as my best friend in high school did in sophomore year (which is to say, about three times a day, every day). Alas, they tend to call at naptime--and CALL BACK if I don't pick up the first time. We even received a call inviting us to John McC.ain's local appearance, which unfortunately I missed due to atrocious behavior by my boys. Yesterday, during dinner, we got our second invite to a Clin.ton rally. Bingo. We were on it. When it became clear that Pennsylvania would actually be relevant this year, I set a goal of taking the boys to see all three major candidates.

Let the record show, I have not decided for whom I am voting. Having met Hi.llary a zillion years ago, I found her pretty amazing in person. (It was a low-stakes meet-n-greet at the time...she was a commencement speaker where I was working; I happened to get "speaker podium" detail as staff support that day. She was super-gracious, came in knowing my name from her secret service detail, and was just so much more gracious and charming than I ever anticipated that it's been hard to see her in only the way the media portrays her since.)

So I could have wept with progressive mom joy when both boys begged me for campaign buttons (one even choosing the hot pink "Hilla.ry rocks!" version and pinning it proudly to his t-shirt). When I was babysitting in high school, I remember the pride with which the mom of the family I sat for most often told me her son had gotten in trouble at day care because when one boy had said his father was a lawyer, her son had shouted back, "Your daddy can't be a lawyer! That's a MOMMY job!" and how hard it was to discipline him for the incident (which had escalated) on one hand while wanting to pop a champagne cork with the other. And this election is like that moment for me. I should learn from the quick rise of Ob.ama that perhaps this won't be such an anomalous election but I just want to plant it in my boys' subconscious minds that this isn't unusual, to have women and people of color in the running for president. (Hence my original goal to get them to every candidate before the election.)

But with that, a few thoughts for the Cl.inton campaign.

Wow, wow, wow, this is so clearly a campaign run by boomer women, it was hard as a Gen X-er not to feel like I'd crashed a reunion of all the moms I used to babysit for. Everywhere around, women at the +/-6 years of Hi.llary age are running around, mostly grim faced and without makeup, running everything from button sales to saying who might get in. The vibe was very much, "this is our candidate, it's her turn, and it's nice of you to be here but it's really our day." It was startling. I don't know what I expected exactly but I guess something less stereotypical.

The faux broad support is a little creepy. When one of the college newspapers around here endorsed Hillary, there were over 100 comments, mostly from people posing as college students, or at least not identifying themselves as with the campaign. But the dead giveaway, beyond the sycophantic echoing of the Hilla.ry talking points, was that no other article, including the ones having to do with things like banning alcohol, had more than 17 comments...let alone 50 in a row commending the editorial board for their sound, well-reasoned judgement. It was so Stepford, it really put me off. The equivalent at the rally today: when we got to our seats in the bleachers, there was a home-made looking poster with "Veterans (heart) Hi.llary!" that I was trying not to step on. "Oh, they just passed that back for someone to hold," we were informed. It's one thing to have campaign operatives trying to get "Hil-la-ry" chants going; it's another to be trying to fake grassroots support. And I think it's all the more jarring because Obam.a doesn't need to fake it at all if the pinko commie town where I live is any indication. (And I say pinko commie with love.)

How about a hand back? Continuing with the generational rage thing, I had at least three different women in their 50s suggest that perhaps this wasn't a great place to have brought my kids. I was one of perhaps 6 moms with preschool aged kids there. All of us but one were placed in spots around the gym that were patently un-kid-friendly, like high up in bleachers off the aisle, or smack-dab in the middle of rows of folding chairs. Would it kill them to put some space aside for moms? I know, it's unfair; I know I wouldn't be thinking that about Obam.a or Mc.Cain. But they haven't been moms of small kids. Hillar.y has. And as someone who's highlighting kids' issues, it would have been nice to see her be a little more sensitive to this. I'm also sure that if she did have a seating equivalent to "mommy parking" it would be blisteringly attacked as being either a ghetto or pandering and so they probably try to avoid the whole thing. So I'm not unaware of the potential pitfalls, but it would have set her apart from the others in a big way.

The treatment of the volunteers was crappy and half-a**ed. At one point, when there were maybe only 75 of us left in line, hoping to get in the building, one of the Boomerettes came by with signs, asking, "Where's my Visibility Volunteers?" and a couple of other Boomerettes flocked to her, asking what to do. Their charge was to "hold signs in groups in prominent places to show the enthusiasm of the crowd for the news media." Ok, some political pageantry and staging is fine. Not so fine: later, as I was waiting in the overflow gym to see if we'd get seats in the main area, those "visibility volunteers" trickled in to line behind me. These women had gotten out of the line from in front of us, most of them, to volunteer for this little play for camera people who weren't even filming until they got to the gym...and then for their enthusiasm, got screwed out of seats. Booooo.

So here's the irony: she was fantastic. She seemed well-rested, and maybe on a high from her Colber.t Report appearance, and was really by far the best speaker of the day. (A close second: Connie Williams, the representative for that high school.) The men who spoke laid it on too thick about how they met as 18 year old midshipmen, pandering to the high school crowd, and the congressman was unfortunately downright creepy in his speech. (He was trying to point out that working in the Bill C.linton White House, he got to observe first-hand Hilla.ry's great qualities, but it came out as truly stalkerish to a distracting degree.) Her comments were pointed but not strident, well-reasoned, and sensible. She lacked the direct connection I heard Ob.ama was able to make with the high school kids in his visit to a neighboring school--and frankly, the number of kids with Ob.ama buttons on was fascinating to see--but worked in some references to things that are relevant to kids on the cusp of adulthood without pandering. Alas, she started so late I had to leave before Q&A because my boys weren't going to make it any longer, so I missed that part. But the speech, despite being one I'm sure she's been giving for weeks, felt fresh and solid and yes, presidential.

Today's experience left me wondering: if I hadn't been seeing so many actual hand-made signs for, would the operative-produced ones have left me so uncomfortable? How much of the territoriality of the Boomerettes has scared off other potential supporters and volunteers? (H.illary's famously remarkable loyalty has cost her dearly in many ways--yes, Ma.rk Pen.n, I'm talking to you--and it's hard not to wonder if this isn't just another.) Even the guy selling buttons had a fakeness to him that was straight out of the Slick handbook, as he told every button buyer that she was getting his favorite. (Really. It's one thing to have something good to say about every button--"Isn't that a great picture of her?" "Don't you love the hot pink?"--but to say to every person, "Oh, yeah, that's my favorite too" is insanely off-putting. Especially when you are buying three of the five designs being sold.) It just echoed the "she'll say anything to get elected" criticism that is so often leveled. I left there as deeply disturbed by the microcosm of her campaign as I was impressed by her speech. Hill.ary the candidate impresses me. Hi.llary the campaign leaves me cold. And I have until Tuesday to wrestle with where that leaves me in the voting booth. I have the feeling lines will be long as Democrats stare in angst at the two levers, hoping they're pulling the one that will help end the Republican run in the White House...whoever that is. My neighbor jokes that his support was running on odd/even days, like the old gas rationing, but getting to be more rapid-cycling as the election got closer. He's not the only one.


nutmeg said...

What a fair and fascinating commentary of the event. Hats off to you for being there with your boys. I so wanted to go to the Obama rally in Philadelphia last night but my husband had to work and I was afraid to do it with four little ones. I should have gone!

R said...

I am so with you on going back and forth like that!