Frieda Wallison: Conventional wisdom
September 6, 2008
MINNEAPOLIS ” Minneapolis. Sept. 5. Ever heard of a two-one punch?
That’s when the vice presidential candidate of a party gives an electrifying speech on one night and the presidential candidate gives a speech much different in tone, but packing an emotional and tactical punch, the next night.
The crowd in the Xcel Center, where the 2008 Republican National Convention took place, responded to both with roaring appreciation and enthusiasm. Long past the obligatory confetti and balloon drops yesterday, delegates lingered, savoring the moment. As a member of the Colorado delegation, I felt privileged to have this experience.
Thursday was the culmination of a five-day marathon for my husband and me, starting Sunday night when the first of the convention-related events in which we participated occurred. Every day was packed with meetings, receptions, briefings and the evening sessions of the convention. As I write this, I’m barely functioning on about three hours of sleep, due largely to late-night festivities on the final evening and an early plane today.
One of the many fascinating events of this week was the lunch I attended yesterday honoring Cindy McCain. This was emceed by Elizabeth Hasselback of “The View.”
She introduced the husband of the candidate ” Todd Palin, husband of Sarah Palin.
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The fact that he was there ” in the midst of a mostly female audience of Women for
McCain ” was an unexpected surprise, and he handled his responsibility of introducing Cindy McCain with humor and aplomb.
Among other things, he noted that he could not have imagined ten days earlier that he would be at the Republican National Convention introducing the possible next
First Lady of the United States, and he quipped that he probably should have put up more of an argument when his wife spoke with him about joining the PTA. In her turn,
Cindy McCain expressed relief that her counterpart on the ticket is a man, because she would not have to coordinate outfit colors with him.
Cindy McCain then spoke at length about her humanitarian activities, which she has pursued for many years. She is a very articulate and warm person, and we learned that she also is a drift race car driver (not sure what that is), has built her own race cars, and also is a licensed airplane pilot. Wow! Between Cindy McCain and Sarah
Palin, there’s impressive female power on the Republican ticket. And let’s not forget
Roberta McCain, John McCain’s 96-year-old mother, resplendent in a stylish white suit yesterday evening, who watched much of the proceedings from the VIP box, climbed up and down stairs in the arena very much on her own steam (I was able to see the comings and goings in the VIP box from my seat), and had a starring role in her son’s videotaped biography, referring to him affectionately as a “Mama’s boy.”
Some of the other impressions I am taking with me from this past week are the phenomenal organization involved in putting on the convention and related events and the kind spirit of the people from the Twin Cities, who volunteered their assistance at the convention and at various venues around town. Every day we were whisked to and from the convention venue in one of what must have been a fleet of hundreds of shuttle buses, so even though there were an estimated 20,000 people in the arena, most of whom left the arena at the same time when each of the convention’s evening sessions concluded, we spent little time waiting for transportation.
And once we were on the buses, there were few traffic delays because designated routes (several miles long) had been established for the convention buses, with traffic control people stationed at strategic locations to guide the buses. The only real glitch in transportation was that our bus driver on the first day of the convention lost his way taking us to the Xcel Center. Luckily, he had a walkie-talkie with him to ask directions or we might still be roaming around the streets of Minneapolis.
We first heard the expression “Minnesota nice” on the night Michele Bachmann, a Republican Congresswoman from Minnesota, used it in her remarks at the convention. Apparently, this is a term which is part of the Minnesota lexicography and an apt description of the attitude of folks from Minnesota. We encountered Minnesota nice everywhere we went, including the federal TSA people at the airport, undoubtedly Minnesota natives.
In the small world department, by chance we ran into the Nahigian brothers from Virginia, political strategists and one a former McCain aide, who, when they heard that we were from Colorado, mentioned that their uncle owns the Village Smithy Restaurant in Carbondale. They suggested we invoke their names for a free meal.
All in all, an exhilarating and inspiring week despite the exhaustion, and one we were lucky to have been able to enjoy.