Wow! What can I say about President Clinton’s fabulous speech last night? Fox News, of course, proclaims it too long and wonders why Clinton spent so much time talking about himself and so little time touting the accomplishments of the current POTUS. Which only begs the question: What speech were they actually listening to? To my mind, Clinton knocked it outta the ballpark. He methodically addressed every single issue facing voters as they enter the polls next month, while the RNC never even uttered the word “Afghanistan” once during their entire convention. And even though Clinton spoke for 20 minutes longer than scheduled, I enjoyed every second. He’s an engaging and substantive speaker, and I always hate to hear him close . . . no matter how long he’s gone on. He’s got just that much to say and I want to hear it.
Before I get too far into actual Convention activities, though, I want to share a little of the action on the periphery. In an earlier post, I mentioned the Huffington Post Oasis located just a couple of blocks from the convention center where all the caucus meetings have been held. The Oasis operated during the RNC, as well, but I must admit I had never heard about it until someone pressed a flyer on me this past Monday while I was walking into the Charlotte Convention Center for the first time. That afternoon, and Tuesday and Wednesday, too, my colleague and I made our way to the Oasis. First of all, it’s beautiful. Clean and spare, the Oasis oozes zen – which is a very welcome thing to ooze during Convention week. Nobody is getting any sleep, passions are running high, adrenaline is spiking, and pretty soon you’re feeling all that in some part of your body. It’s different for all of us, but I feel it in my back and shoulders. The Oasis has an app for that. Massage therapists and reflexologists volunteer their time to help work out the kinks engendered by those symptoms, as well as by sitting in arena seats for six hours per night. (That’s my colleague, Carol Leblanc, waiting for her table massage, above.) The Oasis is a beautiful thing . . . on all kinds of levels. Also, healthy food, sleep counseling, books and pamphlets. And did I mention that it is all free? At least to the end user, but paid for by the sponsors (Huffington Post and Off the Mat, Into the World). Arianna Huffington was running around on Tuesday, but she was too busy to stop for pics. So I got a photo with her right-hand lady, Catherine, who demonstrated the soon-to-be-released app called “GPS for the Soul.”
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. The morning started off with the usual hearty breakfast in the big tent behind the hotel. Our guest speaker was Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota, one of the wonderful women who represent the Democrats in the U.S. Senate. She told a charming story about a football bet she lost to our own Mary Landrieu in which she had to cook a pot of gumbo while wearing a Drew Brees jersey. Mary said it was too bland and proceeded to dump a “Sam’s-size bottle of Tabasco” into it.
After breakfast Carol and I rode the shuttle downtown to visit the temporary studio that MSNBC had set up near the convention center.
Walking back across downtown Charlotte, on the way to Oasis, we fell into a conversation about my upcoming trip to Ireland. A very tall, white-haired gentleman walking in front of us overheard, stopped and turned to us. He asked whether he’d heard we were going to Ireland and I said yes, he had. He proceeded to introduce himself as the Irish Ambassador to the United States, at which point I blurted out: “So are you Sean Donlon?” He started and said that Sean Donlon had not served as ambassador for more than 20 years. Oops! Then, he asked me why I’d asked about the former ambassador and I told him that someone had recently asked me if I were related to Sean Donlon. As she put it: “Now, would you be related to Sean Donlon, the Irish Ambassador?” Not knowing one Irish Ambassador from another, I took him to be the current one. (Foolish American mistake.) I was slightly embarrassed, but I got a good story out of it, anyway.
Now we come to the Convention, itself. What can I say? It was the most exciting and engaging event I’ve ever had a part in. Gotta rush through here because I’m running behind and must make the shuttle for the big day — Thursday — when Obama and Biden speak. So, let me just say that an unexpected highlight is the roll call of the states, when party chairs announce the delegate votes for the candidate. Louisiana has 72 delegates, but could only announce 65. Seven of us did not attend the Convention because of problems with Hurricane Isaac and there are no proxy votes in this game. Only real signatures count. (I intend to frame the copy of the page on which I signed, which the party provided to each delegate.) One fun note is that celebrities are told they can sit wherever they want in any delegate section where seats are available. Mr. Monk, of course, found a home in our delegation!
Can’t close without including a few pics from the Irish American Dems party I attended at Ri Ra Irish Pub in downtown Charlotte after the Roll Call Vote. Will post details later, but you’ve got to see who showed up as the guest of honor: my friend, Michael Collins, the good Ambassador!
Here’s the band, who — of course — provided a rousing round of “Nobody so Irish as Barack O’bama.”
Here’s Henry Healy, Barack’s cousin from Moneygall.