Thursday, July 29, 2004

Thursday, 7:44 AM

At the end of the night, the vote was finally tallied: 4,255 votes for Kerry and 37 votes for Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

But before that moment, and before I went down to the hall, I was beginning to unplug my trusty laptop and getting ready to move out, when a journalist began yelling "That’s MY seat." Apparently, she had been sitting there before I was, and had left to go on the floor about an hour and a half before, expecting the empty seat to remain so in the chaos that was the press filing room.

I didn’t argue. After all, I was heading to the floor myself just then and she could have the seat, but the look in her eyes was full of contempt one who doesn’t follow orders fast enough, or doesn’t see the invisible sign saying "MINE!" That’s what markers are for.

So I got out of the Filing room and went out into the hall and up the escalator to the press area on the floor where those of us with dark green tickets were allowed to go. When I got there I was stopped.

"You can’t go in. Only those with the color tickets shown over there on the wall may enter!"
"I’ve got one of those, see?"
"We’ve just changed the rules five minutes ago."

He told me to stop blocking the hallway. I refused. We argued about my credentials and my right to be there. He sent a flunky to check me out with the Congressional press gallery people. I checked out. He reluctantly let me in. Then, milliseconds later, another guy stops me.

"Can’t you HEAR? He says…." says he.
"He’s been cleared" says his boss.

I resist the urge to stick out my tongue at them as I walked down to the press area on the floor.

I had a great view right next to the Idaho delegation. Well, of the back of everyone’s head at least. But I tried to focus my eyes at the view of the hall. This was indeed a strange sight. I’ve seen it before countless times in the last few days, hell a couple of hours earlier I’d been down there myself, but there was a strange wonder I hadn’t felt before.

A number of governors made some speeches. So did Rev. Al Sharpton, then came a parade of retired generals all three- and four-star types, and all of them spitting contempt at their former commander-in-chief. Security grabbed a vice-chairwoman of the California Green party who was trying to drown out some of the speakers.

Then came Edwards’ oldest daughter, who introduced her mother, who in tern introduced her husband, who gives a version of his standard stump speech, a jazzed up version which jazzes everybody up. My oringinal impression was right: Dan Quayle with brains.

Then came the actual voting. The traditional nominating speech for Kerry was dispensed with. Clinton’s speech for Dukakis back in ’88 is still remembered.

When I heard some votes for Kucinich, I realized my reporting was indeed on the mark and I decided to leave for home. But then something strange happened.

A beautiful girl came up to me and asked if I could by her some tickets to the Grateful Dead concert. I knew that it was time to get my ass out of the hall….

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