‘Let’s go, Obama’
August 28, 2008
DENVER ” Aspen delegate Blanca O’Leary said she was “bawling” as the Democratic Party leadership engineered a dramatic stratagem to permit U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton to be the one to put Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama over the top in Denver.
“No matter what I do, I’m never going to be back as a delegate, because it’s never going to be this good again,” O’Leary said after leaving the floor of the 2008 Democratic National Convention on Wednesday.
The stratagem came during the roll-call vote after both Clinton’s and Obama’s names had been entered into the nomination process, as a nod to the tough fight Clinton put up during the recent primary season.
The delegates had voted at their breakfast meetings earlier in the day, and the party leadership already knew the results before starting the roll call. But when it came time for the California delegation to declare its votes, the delegation passed. Later in roll call, several other states either passed or yielded their positions in line to other states.
The last in the process, Illinois, yielded to New York just as Clinton walked dramatically onto the convention floor and moved that Obama be selected by voice vote, interrupting the traditional, if symbolic, roll call.
Her motion was seconded by a roar coming from 6,000 throats as the delegates went along with the gambit, and Obama was nominated for the presidency.
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Although Obama accepted the nomination by proxy, as announced by party secretary Alice Travis Germond, he will give his acceptance speech Thursday at Denver’s Invesco Field.
“It was wonderful, totally wonderful. I was so happy to be in that room to see that,” said O’Leary, referring to the convention strategy.
“Julia Hicks, who knows everything, told us this was a proposal, but we didn’t think it would really happen, so when it did happen … she had to pinch me, [so I could] make sure it really was happening,” O’Leary continued.
Hicks, whom O’Leary termed the informal dean of the Colorado delegation, has been at every Democratic convention since 1968, when she was on the streets with protesters, according to O’Leary. After that, she decided she could do more as a delegate.
O’Leary also said she feels that Clinton’s speeches at the convention, including one at the Hispanic Caucus, her big address to the convention as a whole Tuesday, and a talk Wednesday morning to release her committed delegates, went a long way to bringing the party together after a divisive primary battle.
“It solidified about 97 percent of us. There are still a very loud 3 percent that the press is all over,” she said. She also noted that she had been watching reporters move in on known Hillary backers to see if they would switch to Obama.
“They are concentrating only on those people that are upset with this process, upset that Hillary didn’t win,” she said. “Most of them will come over eventually. But it’s not, you know, we never get 100 percent Democrats voting, and the Republicans usually don’t get all the Republicans voting for a Republican. This year, we’re probably going to get a much healthier share [of red voters] than we’ve ever had. I think we’re going to get a nice percentage of them. We’ll be OK.”
Her fellow Roaring Fork Valley delegate, Bryan Gonzales, said of those who might not be ready to give their support to Obama, “I think it was a little obvious that it’s over. He is the nominee.”
As for the political buzz that Clinton has positioned herself for another run at the office in 2012, Gonzales remarked, “I think it’s a little premature. I mean, Obama hasn’t won yet. If he doesn’t win in 2008, we’ll have to support someone else.”
Gonzales said the convention in general was “absolutely amazing. But I’m really quite relieved that it’s over and we can stop all this infighting,” he said. “It’s time to solidify. I mean, it took coming to this convention, to get that through the collective psyche.
“It played out the way it was supposed to, and, here we go. Let’s go, Obama.”
I guess it can be the little things that make events such as the Democratic National Convention stand out a bit.
Like the fact that, when I finally made it to my assigned writing spot next to the podium at the Pepsi Center, there was a cute little label on the table with my assigned section, row and seat numbers.
And some wag, seeing the words “Aspen Times” on the label, had remembered that the late Hunter S. Thompson was linked to Aspen, had scrawled underneath the paper’s name, “GONZO.”
Then there was the thrill of seeing old Bill Clinton pull off his usual magic act as a speaker. He spanked John McCain with a broad paddle of political demonization, after first setting the stage by praising McCain’s military service and commiserating over his imprisonment in Vietnam.
It was nice example of using a fake jab with one fist while bringing up the roundhouse punch from behind your back, and from the sea of American flags waving in unison from the convention hall floor, it certainly seemed like the crowd was his.
And Joe Biden did a creditable job of softening his image with a speech heavily laden with emotion and angst, while still laced with his trademark hard-edged pragmatism and framed in his pugilistic style.
Not to mention the surprise appearance of The Candidate himself, Barack Obama, mouthing a few platitudes of happiness and optimism.
Meanwhile, outside the fence, the demonstrators and hipsters still were facing off with the cops. As of deadline, no blood had been spilled, at least not that we heard about.
Tuesday night, I attended a taping of the independent public radio show, the highlights of which were appearances by James Taylor and the dynamic ’60s duo themselves, David Crosby and Graham Nash. They, and others on the bill, spent a good couple of hours playing some of the great songs of their halcyon era, making jokes about George Bush, predicting great things from Barack Obama, and calling for a brighter tomorrow than the recent dark yesterdays.
Yeah, I can see why people are covering these conventions. A lot goes on, you can’t get bored without trying real hard, and the sense of exhaustion that comes over you is one that holds you up rather than tearing you down.
” John Colson