Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Clinton Visit

Posted by Gerald on April 27, 2008

We found out early this week that Bill Clinton was going to visit the campus on Wednesday.  He was visiting four college campuses here in NC that day and we were the third.  I think these were billed as something else, but they were campaign stops for Hillary.  I’ve never seen a President – sitting or former – in person, so I decided to stick around for the event.

Everyone in my department stayed for the speech.  We brought out folding camp chairs (thanks for the loan, Steve!) and staked out spots at about 4pm, so I was very close to the front.  He was scheduled to get there at 6:45.  It was like we were waiting in line for concert tickets.  We were having a good time.  The crowd eventually grew to about 1100 (according to the Sheriff’s department).  They started playing white-folks political rock (“Little Pink Houses” etc…) to entertain the crowd.  The speakers were really loud up front.

Due to delays at the earlier stops, Clinton didn’t arrive until about 9 pm.  Because of the crowd, we were all on our feet for the last three hours.  Before he got there, Hillary’s NC coordinator showed up to do a pep rally.  Since I’m supporting Obama I felt like a bit of an outsider there.  On the other hand, my high school pep rallies were not that much different.  I just don’t seem to respond to the whole group emotion thing very well even at the best of times.  After finishing a hard day of work and then sitting outside for four hours, I wasn’t in a great mood anyway.

One thing that really struck me during the pep rally was watching several of the intelligent and independent-minded women I work with being reduced to whooping contestants on The Price is Right by the “cheerleader” (as I thought of him) when he said “… and nobody tells a North Carolina woman to just sit down and shut up!”  Yeah, and “this is easily the most rocking town our band will visit on this tour!”  I’m sorry, but blatant ham-fisted pandering is blatant ham-fisted pandering, no matter the cause.

Cheerleader also had everyone send a text-message (“NC”) to a campaign phone number and then picked three of those who did to come up on stage and stay to meet Clinton, get an autograph, and ask a question.  Shortly before this, Cheerleader had been – well – cheer leading.  “Gimme an ‘H'”,  Gimme an ‘I””, etc… and then “Who is going to be the next President of the United States!?!”  I used my somewhat above average lung-power to reply “Barak Obama!!!”.  People around me had a variety of reactions.  My colleagues just thought it was funny, as did the guy behind me.  He had been ribbing me in a friendly manner and asking me to give him a t-shirt if I caught one (Cheerleader was tossing them around – and deliberately snubbed the five-year-old son of one of my colleagues who was standing up front.)  When the texting was done, the guy asked me what I wanted to ask Clinton.  He was somewhat taken aback when I responded “I want to ask him if he is deliberately trying to sabotage his wife’s campaign or if he just went insane sometime around the South Carolina primary?”  Actually, I’d like to ask him how he slept at night after having his State Department dick around for three months while 900,000 Rwandans were being killed, but that would probably have been rude.

In other words, I was feeling a bit cranky by the time Clinton arrived.  I was really thinking less about what he might say than about how long he’d take to say it.

While waiting for him to come out no less than four people came up to me to ask me to squat down so they would be able to see.  I’m in my mid-40’s and my knees aren’t what they used to be, still I tried.  I was really cramping up after about 30 minutes (and i felt that for two days), so I selfishly stood back up.  I’m a bastard.

Clinton gave a pretty familiar speech – Hillary’s experience, some specific policy points, things were better back when he was President, taking credit for economic developments during his administration that he had no control over, etc…  He did it well, about a “B-” speech for him, but then it was his third of the day and he still had one to go.  I’ve been hearing forever about how magnetic he is in person and the people around me were feeling it.  There were tears, screaming, etc…  I didn’t feel it.  I just heard a decently delivered political speech from a capable politician.  When he was done he worked the line.  If I had cared to use my size to my advantage, I could have gotten a handshake, but I wasn’t that much of a bastard.  Other people around me were less restrained, though.  Four of my colleagues moved right up to the front before the speech even started, so they got pictures taken with Clinton and got him to sign a bunch of things.  I didn’t bring anything to get autographed, but I don’t really get very attached to that sort of thing.

Also, frankly, I’m kind of ambivalent about Clinton.  He was a better President than Bush the elder and far better than Bush the Younger, but that’s about it.  Also, I really feel he betrayed both the Democratic Party and the public trust in the Lewinsky thing.  Maybe personal sexual behavior shouldn’t matter, but the fact is that it does and he knew that going in.

Anyhow, I didn’t get home until about 10:30.  The next day we all sort of felt like we had been at a rock concert – leg strain, slight tinnitus, and a sort of feeling of disassociation.

This wasn’t one of those experiences that really affected me deeply, but I think I’d be kicking myself if I hadn’t gone.

I’m still supporting Obama.

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3 Responses to “Clinton Visit”

  1. bridgett said

    I saw Bill Clinton out in Iowa at Hancher. I suspect he’s better when he’s speaking on his own behalf — strikes me as a selfish guy that way.

    You might want to turn off those “possibly related posts” things when you’re writing about Hillary Clinton. The auto-linker appears to have linked your post with a lot of Freeper Hillary-hater types and I am sure you don’t want to drive traffic to their sites. My Dashboard to Design to Extras to check off the no thanks to autolinks.

  2. Gerald said

    Thanks for the advice. I hadn’t even noticed those until this time.

  3. Steve said

    I distinctly remember the 1992 election. I was a freshman in college, I had just turned eighteen, and I thought was ready to do my civic duty. Of course, I voted the way my parents did, so so much for informed electorate.

    Anyway, the eve of the election, I had my dorm room door open and one of my hall-mates– a guy that I’m sure either never finished his bachelor’s degree, or is currently making lots of money exploiting someone– was walking up and down the hall shouting, “Bush sucks! Clinton rules!”

    It was at that point that I realized both what I had done (voted for someone based on borrowed beliefs and no real understanding) and what most Americans think an election is: A football game.

    I didn’t vote again until the last presidential election.

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