Before yesterday's "Straight Talk Express" town hall meeting with John McCain in Lakeville, my spirits were at a low ebb. It had been a disastrous week on Wall Street and it seemed as if an Obama victory in November was all but assured. I wanted to attend for the experience, but wasn't expecting much of an uplift.
Like most such events, you were required to arrive early. This time, I ended up having to sit in an uncomfortable plastic folding chair for nearly ninety minutes before the action commenced. During the wait, we were bombarded with cheesy music, chiefly from the '80s. Like a modern sporting event, the audience is apparently never allowed a moment of peace during political rallies. It really got bad when I heard Scandal's "The Warrior" kick in again and I realized we were replaying the loop.
Since I was flying solo, I had a lot of time to take in the atmosphere and study the crowd (which included among other notables Kevin McHale and his wife). Unlike some observers, I didn't sense that there was a great deal of rage or hostility among the attendees. Rather, I was struck by how happy most appeared. Despite the gloomy news of late, people were laughing and smiling. They seemed to be genuinely happy to be there and they were looking forward to hearing from the man they hoped would be president. I think that deep in their hearts, most know that the deck is stacked against him and his chances are slim, but they were there anyway to stand beside him and offer their support and encouragement.
Their attitude and enthusiasm was infectious and I was pleasantly surprised to discover my spirits buoyed. If all these fine folks are going to hang tough and fight to the end, then I could do no less.
In fact, rather than rage and hostility I think that what the crowd expressed on a few occasions on Friday was frustration. They want McCain to fight this campaign with everything he's got and there is a feeling that he hasn't so far. They respect McCain's character and experience and are a bit put off because it seems as if he's going to lose to a man who doesn't come close to measuring up to him.
I was also moved by seeing and hearing McCain up close and in person (three rows back) talk about his feelings for the country. You may not agree with everything that McCain supports (God knows I don't), but when you hear him talk about his love for America and his ideal of serving something greater than yourself, it's hard not feel a chill in your spine (as opposed to a thrill up your leg). His feelings are so obviously authentic and heart felt that you recognize that you're in the presence of good and honorable man. A man who frankly deserves better than the fate which now seems to await him.
The bottom line is that I was damn glad I went. A few pics to share.
You can actually see Rudy Boschwitz's button from space:
Congressman John Klein, Rudy (love the shirt!), Rich Stanek (Hennepin County Sheriff), and Tim Penny (independent):
Passed over veep Pawlenty introduces McCain:
McCain in his element: