John Kerry's rally in the Metrodome parking lot yesterday is being hailed as one of the largest in state history. The Kerry campaign's estimate was 30,000. Inflated as that might be by spin, the pictures attest it was an impressively proportioned seething mob.
Big attendance and the pictures provided are the real point of these events. If you can portray an outpouring of genuine support and revved up excitement for a candidate, the independent swing voter might just be swayed. Because deep in his heart, all he really wants to do is support a winner. It's the bandwagon effect and this is partly why polls taken days after an election asking voters "who did you vote for?" typically result in the margin of victory for the winner far exceeding the actual vote tally.
Believe it or not, sometimes the press even helps out in creating the impression of a chosen candidate as Mr. Excitement. For example, the Star Tribune's breathless headline today "Kerry Ignites Dome Crowd" and the objective description provided by the professional journalist on hand was:
Tens of thousands of fans roared their way through an amped-up 34-minute version of the Massachusetts senator's stump speech.
This Kerry fellow does sound like he's some sort of Magic Man. From that description, even I may have to consider voting for him. But I hope his chances aren't hurt by voters confusing him with that other John Kerry. You know, that aristocratic, moribund Democrat we've seen on TV for the past 20 years.
Perhaps the Democratic partisans were really as fired up as the press reports. By their own "Anybody But Bush" philosophy, their standards for excitement are remarkably low. They'd probably be just as jazzed for an appearance by someone as coma inspiring as Walter Mondale. (Oh. Never mind.)
This is the point that is missed in the press reports. The crowd was almost exclusively comprised of rabid partisans. No one was there with an open mind or drawn there on the basis of Kerry's magnetism. The crowd is there to play the game as much as the candidate is. He pretends he's the fresh new voice of optimism and excitement and progress, they pretend they're reasonable, intelligent voters who've conscientiously weighed the issues and realized this man is what the country needs. And it all looks good on TV and in the quotes provided to the newspaper. Things like:
Kerry ignited thousands of supporters, many of whom waited outside the Metrodome in a light drizzle and steady winds for more than two hours. "We need change and we need help and I think he brought that to us tonight," said Marlys Fox, 43, of Columbia Heights.
Getting back to the alleged record crowd for Kerry, I wonder how much of the turn out was due to another event, conveniently being held at the same time. The teacher's union convention started yesterday in St. Paul. These days they call themselves Education Minnesota and their convention is their annual gratuitous demonstration of power to the people of Minnesota. Instead of holding their meetings sometime over their three month break during the summer, they shut down the entire public school system in the middle of the school year. By their own estimates (which again should be looked on with suspicion) 10,000 - 12,000 professional educators attend. This out of their entire membership of 70,000. So the education system grinds to a halt so 17% of the membership can attend a union meeting, while the rest enjoy a nice four day weekend at taxpayer's expense. Showing once again, being a monopoly is good work if you can get it.
I wonder how many in the crowd yesterday were teachers, fresh from their Excel Center meetings and seminars. Or simply teachers who had the day off, and no work the next day either, thus allowing them the luxury of taking hours to participate in a political rally on what is a work night for everyone else.
There's no direct evidence to support this speculation (the local press sure isn't on it), but the teacher's union unyielding support for the Democrats is well established. According to George Will:
one in 10 delegates to the Democratic [National] convention was a member of a teachers union
According to Free Republic (via the AP), the 2.7 million member national teacher's union (NEA):
... has never endorsed a Republican for president and typically spends $9 out of every $10 it raises on Democrats.
All of that money, by the way, provided by YOU. From your property taxes to teachers' salaries to the union to the campaign of John Kerry. Yet another reason to demand school choice - defund the Left!
For these reasons, I think it's entirely reasonable to assume the Metrodome parking lot last night was lousy with teachers. But in actuality, they didn't even need to go to Minneapolis to participate in a partisan political rally. There was plenty of that going on at their convention. Flash from Centrisity was there:
Bob Woodward was the keynote speaker at the Education Minnesota convention. I was fortunate enough to make it in time to get a nice center aisle seat, 5 rows from the front. He opened to a standing ovation, receiving a warm greeting from a crowd who wasn't really sure what he was going to share. He waved us down stating "Please sit down, it's not that good", which was greeted with a room full of chuckles.
Giving a newspaper reporter a standing ovation is a bit much (which even Woodward seemed to realize). But never underestimate the love of this crowd toward those who helped bring down a Republican. The Education Minnesota promotion of the Woodward appearance tends to support this:
Woodward first gained national attention when, as a young investigative reporter for the Washington Post, he teamed up with Carl Bernstein to investigate the burglary at the Watergate office building that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
Bravo! Bravo! Sure, maybe they were only applauding that whole 'speaking truth to power' thing. If so, I expect Matt Drudge to get a standing ovation for instigating the Clinton impeachment, next time he's invited to address Education Minnesota.
More from the Flash at the convention:
This spiel was no rah rah speech like those that preceded his keynote. Prior to him, both Senator Mark Dayton and Garrison Keillor pumped up the crowd in a 'Political Forum'
While it's good to see Mark Dayton has crawled out from his concrete bunker to make a public appearance, the whole idea of a "Political Forum" during a public employee union meeting, featuring a shameless hack like Garrison Keillor, is a little depressing.
Remember, these are the people taking your tax dollars, demanding more and more every year, so they can turn around and give millions to John Kerry's campaign. Who knows how much more of your money they spent on Bob Woodward's and Garrison Keillor's speaking fees. Good citizens, these are the people teaching your kids!
At least they will be on Monday. Remember, they have today off too.