Friday, October 03, 2008
What I saw "at" the debate
Well, not much, really. Sundries:
This is my third debate protest at Washington University. When the school hosted presidential debates in 2000 and 2004, there were thousands of demonstrators, some real media figures (Nader spoke in 2000, for example), lines of police in riot gear, etc. In 2000, we seized an intersection, stood toe-to-toe with the cops, backed their asses down, and were at least able to say we forced a motorcade re-route.
This year, there were, at any given time, a couple of hundred demonstrators, held at bay by eight or ten cops on bicycles. And not really held at bay, either. The Instead of War group held a lame rally, marched up to the barricade, pled for a minute to have its representatives let in to "raise the real issues," and then marched off whining that they were going to hold their own forum. That left about 50 people in the area, at which point even the Falun Gong stalwarts packed their stuff, exited the fenced-in "Free Speech Zone," and went away.
Then a gaggle of firefighter unionists in Obama shirts, maybe 100 of them, marched in, stood around for a bit, took a group photo, and left too.
The "we love Sarah Palin" bloc had left long before, after standing around with sour faces for awhile. I think the last straw was the march past them by eight or ten "Sarah Palin Look-Alikes for Obama." Or maybe the couple in Palin and McCain masks walking back and forth in front of them, with "Palin" making crude jokes about "McCain's" age and fending off "his" gropes. It was pretty much the only decent street theatre except for one of our Libertarian guys who made a good show of satirically talking up the "bailout" to the R&D types. Funny, none of them wanted to talk about that.
The antiwar left is obviously dispirited this year -- they're not willing to abandon the Democratic Party, even though that party has clearly abandoned them by nominating a guy who ran against the war in 2004, voted to continue it every time the question came up from 2005 to this very day, and in mid-campaign is sabre-rattling at low volume to avoid associating himself with them. The IOW guys didn't seem to want to talk about that either.
It's kind of embarrassing, really. In the 60s, an anti-war leftist could at least take comfort in the thought that if he was a dupe, he was the dupe of a vast, deceptive Communist conspiracy -- those sly Kremlin puppet masters, he could think, at least looked like they had their world domination shit together at that point, and they were handing out good acid.
Who the hell wants to be a dupe of today's Democratic Party? It's ... well, it's degrading. If you're going to have to admit you got rooked, you want to at least be able to say the guy had an intricate, novel scam. This is like admitting that you lost your life savings to a Nigerian letter scammer. Sure, Obama is going to win and win big, but not on his merits. He's going to win because most Americans hate George W. Bush, don't quite get John McCain, and would gouge their own eyeballs out before they'd allow Caribou Barbie to park herself a heartbeat away from the presidency.
Anyway ... the Libertarian contingent at the protest was decent in size (15 people or so). We were also the loudest, happiest and most cohesive, and we were the last organized group to leave. There were probably ten frazzled stragglers still standing around when we paraded away in search of beer. In 2000, I was the only Libertarian waving a sign, and I only ran into a couple of others. In 2004, we had 30-40 people. So we lost fewer participants pro rata, anyway.
As far as I know, I was the only vice-presidential candidate on-site (or at edge-of-site, anyway) besides Biden and Palin. I got a couple of interviews, one as the BTP's vice-presidential nominee, one as an LP congressional candidate. I also had a short chat with a neat lady from HuffPo who had enjoyed watching the LP's national convention on CSPAN, but I don't think that was interview per se. I'll try to replace the blurry lo-res pic above (taken with an $8 cam) once some film gets developed. The blurry pic is me, standing behind the IOW "rally" and next to a Che-like Obama portrait, waving my BTP sign.
So, we trooped off to Krieger's for a drink or three. The debate was on the tube, but inaudible due to bar noise. Biden looked serious and together. Palin looked like a limping deer in the headlights of an 18-wheeler. I'm reading the debate transcript right now, and in black and white Biden is whipping her ass. I understand that the overall impression was different for many, however. Gotta find a tape.