Today, I decided to attend the Vice President Joe Biden event at the Depot in Minneapolis.
I’ve attended these kinds of events before, so I knew exactly what to expect. It took an hour out of yesterday to pick up the ticket, then four hours today to drive over, stand in line, stand inside waiting for the Vice Presidents half hour speech, then drive home afterwards. I was there for the entire event.
It was a good day. I’m tired.
(click on photos to enlarge them)
There was nothing unexpected in the vice-president’s remarks. I heard Pat Kessler of WCCO-TV report live back to the Noon News on ‘CCO that Biden was in the Cities to “fire up the troops”, or words to that effect.
Of course, motivating supporters is a totally appropriate use of time for a candidate. Kessler, who is my favorite local TV reporter on political matters, was stating the obvious.
(Like all the camera people and reporters, Kessler was “penned in” the press area, certainly not roaming the crowd. I watched Pat as he did his work, writing his notes, walking around in the ‘pen’, contemplating his thoughts.)
I wondered how much time Kessler’s piece would get on the WCCO-TV evening news. Back home I watched, and he got about three minutes, only perhaps a minute of which was about the event in which I had invested five hours of my time. This is not a criticism. He was doing his job. And he does it well. He always seems fair, and cares about getting his information right, and conveying it in as objective manner as possible.
But if TV news is where people get a lot of their political news, they certainly get no depth of coverage at all. Maybe 20 minutes of that half hour news program is advertising; the rest divided into the traditional “news, weather, sports” with perhaps some special features thrown in (the State Fair is coming up and ‘CCO will do the news from there….)
Back home, I picked up the mail which included, this day, Newsweek’s August 27 edition, with President Obama on the cover, and the cover article, “Hit the road, Barack. Why We Need a new President” by Niall Ferguson.
I’d gotten a preview of this article the previous day through two commentaries challenging Ferguson’s methodology and his interpretation of facts. You can read them here and here. UPDATE Aug 22: Another one, from Business Insider, came today and is here. And another, here.
Because Ferguson is a writer of some prominence, and because Newsweek remains a magazine of some credibility, Ferguson’s printed words get credibility that apparently they don’t deserve. Likely very few of the Newsweek readers get the benefit of a critique of Ferguson’s objectivity. The choice is to accept his opinion or not.
Back to the Depot and V.P. Biden, I think most of us felt it was time well spent. But it was tiring.
Well before the invocation opening the gathering, I struck up a conversation with a lady who was sitting on the floor near the media platform.
She was surprised that there were no chairs (it is the usual for these kinds of events).
At the same time, so far as I know she stayed till the end, and she was a supporter. It was just too tiring.
I ran into one fellow I knew and we had a good conversation about things political; and it is always interesting to just people watch at events like this. I become aware of how diverse the scrum is that goes by the name “Democrat” at such gatherings. (And you also notice people who are quite obviously not Democrat, but they are at such meetings for reasons of their own.)
In the long line before entering the old Depot, I got to thinking about the time in 1960-61 when I first came to Minneapolis, via the Soo Line, for a student union conference at the UofM Farm Campus in St. Paul. I was a college senior at the time, and I’d never been on a jaunt like this before. The bustle of the twin cities was new to me.
Where Joe Biden was speaking was where I and my fellow students had debarked from the train from Valley City ND over 50 years ago, sometime during the transition period from President Eisenhower to President Kennedy. A memory from that era is here: Politics 1960 vs 1996001
Things have really changed….
There’s about two months till the election.