Wandering Around the Spin Room
As I mentioned earlier, I was covering the Democrats' presidential debate this week. After it ended, I took off to "spin alley" where the various candidates had little areas underneath those vertical political convention signs, intent on seeing if I could find (or make) something interesting.
The three top candidates did not show, although Clinton and Obama managed to get pretty good crowds with the b-team. John Edwards, meanwhile, got little attention. More than a few times, I saw other candidates' staffers slip over into his area. Edwards really owes Ann Coulter for saving him from being a silky version of Mike Gravel.
Speaking of slipping, Maureen Dowd was off the wagon at home instead of doing her job showing up to report on something. [Yes, lawyers, that was satire. She never did show incidentally.]
While Obama, Clinton and Edwards were off enjoying whatever it is that rich liberal Democrats enjoy, their less-popular rivals were out spinning the press. Chris Dodd was there. I didn't feel like talking to the guy. He just wasn't worth the time. I mean if you're going to run a snowball's-chance-in-hell campaign, you should at least have the common decency to be a little "off" for everyone's entertainment.
Speaking of "off," Mike Gravel was there. I didn't talk to him since getting him to say something silly is like shooting fish in a barrel. He just strikes me as the scary uncle you always lie about being related to. There's a fine line between disturbed and amusingly delusional. Thank God Dennis Kucinich knows that line very well.
Yes, guys, your humble correspondent was graced by the pleasure of everyone's favorite socialist congressman. I can verify that the rumors are false. He does not have antennae or slightly pitched ears. He does, however, have a wife who appears to stage-manage him.
While I was waiting to talk to Kucinich, some earnest young liberal type was asking him about health care (something you should never do if you have ever contemplated suicide). Finally, he appeared to be winding down. But. Not. Yet.
After his last syllable, Mrs. Kucinich leaned over and whispered something in his ear. "Be sure and see Michael Moore's movie 'Sicko,'" he added, thinking he was done. But not so. Kucinich's minder wife bent down to ear level (she's about 4 inches taller) and whispered another instruction. "I already said that!" he blurted, not realizing how ridiculous he was looking.
After waiting through all that, I asked the Ohio elf why he thought government should take over the American medical system since government couldn't secure Iraq. Why would we do any better at something that actually costs a lot more?
"Well, those situations are quite different," he said. "You see, Iraq was a war based on lies whereas Medicare--"
I couldn't let that pass without interrupting. What is it about Democrats and the leadup to Iraq? "Forget why we went into Iraq," I said. "I didn't ask about that. I asked about how we haven't secured Iraq in the post-war."
"Can I answer your question?" he asked.
"Sure," I said, realizing that this was politicianspeak for "No, I will not answer it." He didn't.
After that, I went over to the Hillary Clinton section where I caught up with Sheila Jackson-Lee, one of the more rabid members of the moonbat wing of the Democratic party. Naturally, I asked her how she could get Hillary to investigate to find out the truth about 9/11. "We are investigating it," she said. "Since Democrats took over the Congress, we have had six times as many investigations into 9/11--why it happened, how it can be prevented."
"But what about the truth about how it happened?" I said.
She paused for a second, calculating what to say:
"I don't know what your definition of the truth about 9/11 is," she said. Not too bad. Obviously she's been asked enough times to have that handy canned response.
While all this was going on, my trutheresque question caused a bit of a stir around the press surrounding Jackson-Lee. Columnist Clarence Page and several others groaned when I asked it. He and a few others actually left. For my good name, I hit Page up later and clarified that I was just going for a reaction question. He seems like a pretty cool guy.
Next, someone told me they saw Bill Richardson although I never got a glimpse of the guy. I kind of wanted to ask him if he feel dirty talking about tax cuts on the same stage with a bunch of redistributionists.
After that, I spotted Tavis Smiley, the decidedly unsmiley moderator of the debate. He was busy being accosted by someone who I first mistook for some left-wing nutjob. I found out later that they guy was a Washington Post reporter. Their discussion got pretty heated before Smiley basically blew him off.
I moved in, asking him, why it was he and his panelists didn't ask a single question about immigration. Response: We wanted to ask about some topics that hadn't been covered in the other debates. A couple of candidates said they had never been asked about education before so I was glad for that.
Next, my friend La Shawn Barber asked him why it was not a single conservative or libertarian journalist was on the panel. His response was really weak, something to the effect of 'Well, I had to pick some people and those are the ones I picked. You can't satisfy everyone. Aren't you [as a black person] glad this happened at all?'
Quite a persuasive guy.
After my talk with Smiley, I happened to see Barack Obama's campaign manager, David Axelrod. Considering that his brother, Jim Axelrod, is a smug, liberal political reporter at CBS News, I wasn't sure what to expect. Turns out he's a nice, regular guy. That said, he couldn't answer my point-blank question: How is Hillary not inevitable? Made me wonder if they really think they can win. At that, I asked him the obligatory "will Obama accept the vice presidential position" question. Amazingly, he said no. I came away from the exchange hoping he'd be able to push his guy to win over Clinton (even though she'd be easier to beat). I don't think he'll be able to but we'll see.
It got kind of old after that. Sure, there were some other "famous" folks there such as Marxist stooge Cornell West. Talking with La Shawn over in his area, neither of us could think of a thing to say to him. In retrospect, I should have asked him why he always wears a scarf. He's quite a strange person.
At any rate, after that, I headed over back to the blogger section of the room. FYI no one in the media was allowed to be in the actual room. I was disappointed in a Daschlean way that I would not be able to get a glimpse of the epitome of human perfection that is Hillary Clinton.
Around my spot were Andy Carvin of NPR, Earl Dunovant of Prometheus 6 (he and I had some interesting discussions during the debate), the lovely Liza Sabater of Culture Kitchen, as well as the inimitable Oliver Willis. Yes, he does exist in the flesh. Also there were Sherrilyn Ifill of Blackprof.com and Casey Lartigue. There were several other bloggers there but I didn't catch their names and blogs.
Liza and I got to talking about someone I forgot to mention last time, Joe Biden. Now there is a Democrat. He's pretty much John Edwards – hair + no ability to restrain his limousine liberal impulses, especially when it comes to race. If only we could have more Democrats out there like him. Too bad Bush banned cloning. Oddly, Liza did not agree with me.
While we were hanging out after the fact, Dennis Kucinich and his wife stopped by, hoping to change our votes by shaking our hands. I told Earl he had to vote for him now but he disagreed. I had to leave the room to avoid going ballistic at such sacrilege.
- La Shawn Barber has a good recap plus several photos of she and I questioning Tavis Smiley
- Andy Carvin has a great clip of Al Sharpton's dirty look following another Joe Biden racial gaffe
- Liza Sabater has a slideshow (complete with strange pic of Cornell West) and a nice recap
- American Taino did not like PBS or Smiley's performance
- Laurie White adds a bit to my Tavis Smiley account noting that Smiley's virtuoso makeup person also got accosted by the Washington Post reporter. "At least you'll get good copy, baby!" she said before ditching him.
- Sherrilyn Ifill on Tavis Smiley and Michael Eric Dyson