Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Democrats Brought Their Show To My Neighborhood

Last night, three of the Democratic Party campaigns nominating their candidate for President of the United States of America sent their local representatives to the monthly meeting of my neighborhood association. I dropped in on it to see what was up and how things were going.

Now, before I go much further, I should point out that I do live in a somewhat ethnically diverse neighborhood in San Francisco, but it could stand to have more Black and Latino people. It's got a pretty decent percentage of Asians in it, but it's certainly overweight with Whites and, worse, they absolutely dominate the neighborhood association. I looked around the room, and not a single face looked even remotely non-white to me. So— to be fair— I really should be saying that I dropped in on my local neighborhood white people association to see what the Democrats were telling them.

It wasn't all bad. It could have been better. I left more disappointed in the Democratic field than when I arrived.

The Obama campaign promised to send somebody, but they never showed. I know there are Obama supporters in my neighborhood. I see the campaign signs, and he came in second in the straw poll taken at the end of the evening (behind Edwards, who took almost 45% of the vote). I couldn't help but wonder whether the reason the Obama campaign didn't get their guy to the Taraval Police Station in time was that their campaign is badly in disarray, or if they deliberately snubbed the group on the [understandable] grounds that my neighborhood association is all full up with old, rich, white bitties whose greatest worries going into the February primary are all about whether their organic dog food is laced with melanine. If I were running the Obama campaign, I might be a little slow to kow-tow to that kind of audience too. Particularly, if I'm short of hands.

The Clinton campaign sent a pimply kid who couldn't have been much older than twenty, who didn't seem to understand that I couldn't care less why he likes Hillary— I wanted to know why I should write a check. (Do not tell me to write a check because you're swooning like the star football quarterback's prom date. I don't care.) They also sent a young woman with a fairly attractive appearance, but who was equally underprepared to speak coherently about her candidate. Yes, I understand how thrilled you were to be in the same room with Warren Buffett. Tell me why I should write a goddamn check, you blithering idiot. My take is that the Clinton campaign is phoning it in from San Francisco. Not a happy-making experience.

The Edwards campaign sent a very, very white and extremely well-prepared young man who, it seemed to me, was the only one in the room with a future in politics ahead of him. He managed to figure out what I was really asking about when I posed the question for all the campaign representatives to answer about how their candidate views religion and its role in forming public policy. He slathered on some nice rhetoric about how John Edwards likes to practice his religion in private, then he remembered the last clause in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, which was pretty much the AAA answer I wanted to hear. The guy from Hillary's campaign was the most disappointing. He had nothing helpful to say. The guy from the Kucinich camp seemed thrown by the question and sputtered that people shouldn't be talking about religion in political campaigns. (My response to that: dude, it's too late to push that particular toothpaste back into the tube. We're going to have to talk about it, and I for one think it's about damned time.)

The Kucinich campaign sent an older white guy straight from central casting. He was an excellent representative for the Kucinich campaign, well-prepared, thoughtful and a good public speaker. His candidate has a few policy positions I don't like— in particular, I think his policies on free trade agreements is ill-informed and ideologically stale. He went off the rails a bit when he answered a question about "what does [the candidate] think about all the illegal immigrants." I'll be kind and just say that Kucinich's guy blamed NAFTA for all those phantoms that continually plague the slumbers of Lou Dobbs and his ilk.

The saddest moment of the evening for me came when the straw poll came in and not a single vote went to Chris Dodd. Bill Richardson got one vote, and Dennis Kucinich got another. The bulk of the votes were divided between Edwards and Obama with a not entirely bad showing for Hillary. Considering that Obama came in second without even bothering to have anyone show up and squid for him, I'd say he's doing pretty well West of Twin Peaks in San Francisco. I'm expecting the strong support for Edwards to start drying up after he gets pasted in Iowa and New Hampshire. I don't know where those people will go, but the cynic in me says they'd rather support a white woman than a black man.

At this point, I'm not sure I care much who the Democrats nominate. I'm going to hate him or her, whoever it is. It will take a monumental act of personal will for me to squelch my nausea and vote for them against whatever shrieking howler monkey the Republicans nominate. I feel the heartburn starting already.

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