Iowa Candidates Dinner
by Jeff Dinelli
Last week I noticed locals inviting people to sign up for a November 10th bus trip to Iowa. It was a puzzling idea, since the University of Illinois football team wasn't playing in Iowa yesterday (they actually played at number one ranked Ohio State, a game in which they somehow won). Someone told me it was "some kind of a political trip," so I called around to a couple of Democratic offices and found out it was a Barack Obama supporter trip to the Jefferson Jackson fundraiser in Des Moines. The busses were coming from Chicago, and I live on I-80, so they were hoping to fill up seats on the way. I probably should have jumped on board, but the price was a little steep, and truthfully I'd rather hang with my kids than a bunch of Chicago political insiders.
So when the esteemed David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register declared Obama the winner in part for a speech that "inspired the crowd like no other," it was no suprise, really. Joe Biden called it what it was when he hit the stage, saying "Hello, Iowa" and then waving at the section of Veterans Memorial Auditorium packed with the Obama supporters and shouting, "Hello, Chicago!"
In fact, Obama's speech wasn't any different than any other he has offered over the past couple of years. "I was against the Iraq war from the start," "There is no Blue State and no Red State," etc. Anyway, one gets the feeling that Obama could stand in front of a mic and read the Des Moines phone book and Yepsen would be tripping over himself trying to find his thesaurus to best describe how inspiring a speech the senator had delivered.
Headlines across the nation speak only of Obama and Hillary Clinton, who took her share of shots on this night, but attempted to turn the discussion toward Republicans and the White House. "I'm not interested in attacking my opponents, I'm interested in attacking the problems of America," Clinton said. "And I believe we should be turning up the heat on the Republicans. They deserve all the heat we can give them."
Indeed. We really can't afford to lose this one. Four more years of these vengeful half-bright rich boys in the White House will drive a whole generation out of politics. It's time to win, and the hell with heroes on white horses, they can ride mules or Harley-Davidsons for all I care. We're talking about winning.
Bill Richardson sought to distance himself from the rest of the field by talking about bringing the boys back home. "The leading candidates are talking about keeping troops until 2013," Richardson said as some boos filtered through the crowd. "I will bring troops back within one year."
8 months longer than what Dennis Kucinich has promised, but you'd never know it on this night, since DK was banned from the Auditorium. A protest raged outside throughout the evening.
Reading reports about the gala, it appears it was fairly uneventful, though there is apparently a CNN debate scheduled for this week. My favorite report by far is this one filed by John McCormick:
For the record, dinner was over hours ago, and it's mostly now just drinking. The crowd is still paying attention, sort of.
Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa just took the stage, so don't look for Clinton or Obama until after 11 p.m. A few in the crowd may be nodding off by then.
UPDATE: I'd like to blame this on lack of sleep after last night's marathon, but for some reason Obama insisted yet again, to Tim Russert this morning, that there is a Social Security crisis. What the hell is this guy thinking?