More from RBC meeting
Photo taken at the 1920 Republican Convention (the woman on the right is Alice Paul). The full quote reads: "No self respecting woman would wish or work for the success of a party that ignores her self." - Susan B. Anthony, 1872
I found this photo a few weeks ago and printed copies of it on postcard paper with the intention of sending it to members of the RBC. I had a difficult time finding all of their addresses, so that didn't happen -- now I plan to send it to SDs and Democratic "leaders" such as Pelosi and Reid with the message "See you in Denver!" on the back.
Anyway, I took a bunch of the postcards with me in case I met anyone who might appreciate a copy. I should have brought a lot more. (Instead I came home with a list of email addresses to send people electronic copies.) I did manage, however, to give a copy to both Lanny Davis and Howard Wolfson.
Realizing how many Obama supporters were there, I tried to identify someone who was either a Clinton supporter or neutral to sit next to -- it was going to be a long day and I thought I might be a little more comfortable with that arrangement. It was almost an hour before the meeting was scheduled to start and I ended up holding court in the ladies room and sussing out my cohorts there. It wasn't that difficult -- I just struck up conversations with women who weren't covered in Obama paraphernalia.
After the meeting began I was sitting in a small cluster of Clinton supporters with the OFB on three sides and the press on the fourth. As I said in my earlier post, things started out politely enough. Supporters for each side were clearly expressing greater approval for the statements they agreed with, but for the most part were not being openly hostile or antagonistic to the other side.
The four witnesses who spoke about the FL case were Jon Ausman -- a FL Dem. Party official, Senator Bill Nelson, State Senator Arthenia Joyner (for Clinton) and Congressman Robert Wexler (for Obama). Ausman was requesting that the committee agree to seat 50% of the delegation. He didn't even try to argue for a 100% solution. His position is obviously not the preferred solution for Clinton, but the room remained calm -- there was no booing or any other outward expression of disagreement from the crowd.
Senator Nelson spoke next and responded to a question from the committee about the voters who stayed home on election day, those who were not politically "savvy" enough to ignore the voices telling them that the election wouldn't matter and thus didn't vote. This is clearly an argument the Obama campaign thinks is a winner because it was echoed not only by Brazile, but by lots of the supporters in the room. This is an astonishing argument to me not because I don't understand the seriousness of voter suppression, but because the solution to this problem isn't usually to completely disregard those who did manage to vote. A logical solution, if possible, would be a re-vote, but we know how Obama feels about those. Senator Nelson clearly wasn't buying the argument either, his response was "I would buy this argument if turnout had been poor."
Next up was Senator Joyner, she was great -- I wrote about her a little on the previous post -- not only was her initial statement very good, but her responses during questioning were spot-on. She's funny, she's direct and she's very positive -- it would have been very difficult for the Obamatrons to boo or jeer at her, so they didn't; many of them simply ignored her and carried on conversations amongst themselves while she was speaking. There were three men sitting behind me carrying on a conversation so loudly that at times it was difficult to hear the amplified proceedings. They were denigrating Hillary, talking about what a joke she was and how this whole meeting was a desperate attempt by her to have some sort of relevance. I ignored them. I was not going to be baited.
As I maintained focus on the conversation in front of me, I realized that the three behind me could very well have been taking their cues from Donna Brazile. Her body language was fascinating to behold. With the exception of the moment when DB asked Senator Joyner a direct question, she ignored the Senator the entire time that Joyner was speaking. All of the members of the RBC had large binders on the desk in front of them. When Sen. Joyner was speaking DB was flipping through hers the whole time -- completely impassive to the rousing speech that was being given. Not only was she not paying attention, she seemed bent on demonstrating her disinterest in Joyner's words. At first I thought that perhaps she was just bored with the entire thing, that she was disinterested in following any of it (which, obviously would be a problem all on its own), but no, when Rep. Wexler got up to speak next, she was actively engaged with what he was saying. This was the pattern that followed for most of the day. She simply ignored those arguments she wasn't interested in entertaining.
More about Sen. Joyner. When arguing that the Dems chances in November would be hurt by ignoring the votes already cast, she quoted Howard Dean and his 50 state strategy: "You don't win a state if you don't show up." Heh.
When asked what exactly it was that she wanted from the committee, she replied to huge applause "I want it all." She elaborated "I was taught in life that you don't get what you don't ask for."
Next up was Wexler -- as I noted before, this is when the mood in the room changed. I was interviewed at one point by a reporter from Congressional Quarterly. She asked me about the booing that she heard from Clinton supporters. I explained to her that the first time booing was heard in the room was in response to Wexler's antagonistic and combative statements that included direct shots at Senator Clinton. I pointed out that his performance came directly after Sen. Joyner's, who not once said anything even remotely negative about Obama or his campaign's efforts to disregard the will of the voters in her state. I said that Joyner's entire argument was based on the historical struggles for the franchise and the meaning of democracy. Wexler on the other hand didn't even bother to address such issues, but instead was immediately on the attack.
Again, following their leaders, Wexler's position and tone gave the Obamabots in the room license to vent their hostility.
It's one thing to see the vile, bullying behavior of the OFB in print or on TV. It is another thing altogether to experience it in person directed at you by another human being less than a foot away.
After the FL case was presented and before MI began, I took the opportunity to leave the room and take a break. I had already gotten into a little bit of a back and forth with the three guys sitting behind me, and I did not want to allow myself to be drawn any further down that road, so I left the room to cool off for a moment. On my way out of the room, I ran into Lanny Davis. I was really angry, and only managed to sputter "I know you hear this all the time, but you have to tell her she cannot quit. She must keep fighting." He looked a little bit shaken up as well and probably reacting to the look on my face, and my general demeanor said "Well, you saw my face in there. I couldn't believe it." As we were walking out of the room, he was pulled away by a reporter, and I went to the ladies room and commiserated with a few Clinton supporters. They were becoming easier to identify -- they were the ones not only not covered in Obama gear, but now they were visibly irate.
It was on my way back into the meeting room that I ran into the reporter from CQ. There was press everywhere and I spotted Greta Van Susteren who is a tiny person. Just tiny!
Back in the meeting room, the MI arguments are following a similar pattern in terms of the reactions of the crowd, although there was no one who presented an argument anywhere near as inflammatory as Congressman Wexler's.
At a number of points, members of the committee would say that they didn't have a question, but would like to make a statement or point of clarification. Each time, co-chair Jim Roosevelt would either cut them off or tell them no, the reason being that this portion of the day was reserved for questioning and that there would be plenty of time for statements and clarifications during deliberations taking place after the lunch break this afternoon. Well, he cut off committee members making statements with the exception of Donna Brazile, who never asked for permission, but rather just launched into her statements. At one point responding to a speaker who talked about the lessons his mother taught him about fairness, Donna interjected something to the effect of "Well, you just talked about your mama, so now I get to tell you what my mama taught me." (Really, that's how this system works? Anytime anyone else talks about their mama, you have the right to respond with a story about yours?) "My mama taught me about following the rules." Big response from the rules-loving OFB.
Shortly before 3:00, they wrapped up the MI arguments and we broke for lunch. Alexis Hermann (the other co-chair) told us to be back in the room by 4:15 when the meeting would resume with deliberations and votes on competing resolutions.
Back in my seat at 4:15 on the dot, we waited and waited for the committee members to take their seats. We waited for over two hours. During this time it became clear that deliberations were already underway, only we weren't going to be allowed to witness them. The committee members didn't return until after 6:15, giving them a break from the public meeting of almost 3 1/2 hours. Sometime around 5:30 or so, some Obama supporters began receiving messages on their phones about a compromise resolution having been decided. They huddled together to discuss the news while the rest of us continued to wonder and wait.
Finally, the committee began to file in. Alexis Hermann informed us that it was time for the introduction of resolutions with 10 minutes being allocated for discussion of each followed by a vote.
Remember the deliberations that Jim Roosevelt promised us would be the time when we would hear the RBC members objections and clarifications about the cases presented in the morning? They never mentioned them again and no explanation was given about why we weren't hearing them or for the two hour delay.
So they began the sham of introducing resolutions and voting on them. The first resolution to be introduced was one to fully seat the entire FL delegation. The votes were taken by a show of hands, and when the members who voted for the resolution raised theirs I stood up to applaud and cheer them along with just about every other Hillary supporter in the room.
I noticed that someone mentioned on another thread how much louder the OFB was on TV. There were certainly more of them at the meeting in general, but that became even more pronounced in the afternoon as a number of Hillary supporters who had come by the busload from other places had to leave at a predetermined departure time. A large percentage of the OFB was from the DC area -- this was the result of one of the ways they gamed the ticket registration process; they showed up at the DNC headquarters directly, knowing you could register in person. The possibility of registering in person was about as well known amongst Clinton supporters as the ability to register by fax was.
Next came the show of hands of those who opposed the resolution to seat 100% of the FL delegation. At this point, we were standing so we could actually look at the people who were voting no. We were booing. The OFB tried to drown us out by cheering and applauding louder than we were. Before the chants of "Denver! Denver! began, there were shouts of "Shame! Shame!" that may not have been loud enough to hear on TV. That one was started by Yours Truly. It was at this point that some of the Obamabots around me tried to physically intimidate me into silence. No joke, the woman sitting next to me stood up, moved closer to me and started shouting into my ear that I was despicable. A woman who was sitting in the row in front of me stood up, pushed her chair back and tried to step in front of me and block me. These movements toward me were made in a very small space -- we're talking about rows of chairs and the space in between them that is enough for a person to walk through.
When they finally managed to regain order in the room and we were again seated, I took a moment to notice how angry and upset I was -- I was visibly shaking. I noticed that the man on my left who is also a Clinton supporter was also shaking. It wasn't just the process unfolding before us, but the implied threat of physical violence that was displayed by the people around me.
Meanwhile the woman to my right who had just been telling me how despicable I was (and who had also called me a bitch at another point) is now having a loud conversation about how rude Clinton supporters are and how little respect for the Democratic process we have. I wanted to vomit. I still do.
I stayed until the first vote on MI had begun and then I left. It was just about 7:00 and I was hoping to make it to Union Station in time for the 7:20 train back to New York. And I couldn't stay in that room any longer.
I talked to a pretty amazing array of people there. Many of them say that they won't vote for Obama and with every event like this or the RFK ridiculousness, their resolve hardens. I spent a lot of the day with a woman who plans on making bumper stickers, pins and t-shirts that say "McCain or Abstain." She wasn't exactly your typical McCain swing-voter. She was a young, urbane Puerto Rican lawyer and she, like me, is tired of being abused by the OFB and taken for granted by the DNC. I meet a number of people who honestly believe that Obama will be worse than McCain because at least McCain will face congressional opposition and clearly Obama will not. I completely agree that he will be a disaster if given unfettered power, which is exactly what he will have with a congress comprised of people who are used to being lead around by the nose by him. One person yesterday called him a "false-progressive," which I like as it sounds like false prophet and carries with it the religious undertones that are so apt given his deification by the Obamanation. I will not vote for him.