Do conventions make you fat? And other questions
Dear readers: It's been a pleasure conversing with you throughout this week. I've gained insight, support, some needed humbling -- although unfortunately, none of you have dug up the identity of the Mini Cooper driver from Johnson County. Throughout, you've been asking questions about the convention and what life is like at it. Here, I attempt to answer some frequently asked questions (and some that I just made up because I want to talk about them):
Q: Do conventions make you fat?
A: They could, but not if you're properly doing your job. Conventions based on American social mores inevitably involve grazing, and every function involves free food and drink. But conventions also involve a lot of walking -- especially in New York -- so it balances out somewhat. My weight-control strategy has been to eat junk food like a Garbage Pail Kid for several days, then cut back as the sight of food begins to make me nauseous. It's working so far.
Q: What about taxicabs? What do the cabbies think?
A: Readers from the Democratic convention will remember a passing fascination with the political opinions of cabdrivers. One would think New York's legendary cabbies would be a worthy topic. But this time I've found them reticent with their political opinions. My theory is that they assume I'm a Republican delegate, and don't want to say anything that's bad for business.
Q: How can you stand spending all week with REPUBLICANS!?!
A: The same way I stood spending all week with DEMOCRATS!?! in July. They're people with opinions, often quite articulate ones, and the company is usually a pleasure.
Q: Who dances better?
A: Democrats. But both parties are pretty awful.
Q: How have the protesters been?
A: Gradually less noticeable each day. That may conflict with news accounts, but that's been my observation.
Q: What about security?
A: My allergies are acting up, and every time I've sneezed within earshot of cops, at least one officer has always said "bless you."
Q: Is the reporters' area as cold as it was in Boston?
A: That's been weird. Boston started out really cold, then got better. New York started well, and yesterday evening, I started shivering.
Q: What did you think of Schwarzenegger's speech?
A: Didn't see it. I have a bone to pick with Schwarzenegger, though, as he indirectly kept me out of a party on Wednesday.
Q: So what's been better, Boston or New York?
A: Boston was fine, but New York has so many advantages. Transit's easier, everything's more compact, and the main convention site doesn't feel like a city unto itself -- it's better integrated with the city and citizens. Security's been omnipresent, but pretty unobtrusive. Nothing's more than 10 minutes away from anything else.
Boston basically shut down the Fleet Center area for the convention, making the area seem like an island. New York couldn't do that, and it's made the whole affair more cosmopolitan, protests and all. And frankly, covering Kansas, I'm just better connected. The Democratic Party loves Kathleen Sebelius and fights for Dennis Moore, but the state simply has a greater number of prominent Republicans. That makes Kansas more connected to the party, and by extension, I'm more in the loop too. The delegation alone has a track-and-field legend, the most-booked senator on the Sunday news shows, and a national leader of the religious right. Add a guy named Dole to that, and the invitations add up.
Q: Having been to both conventions, sho's going to win, Bush or Kerry?
A: We may have a better sense of that tonight, after the speech. Watching Bush's stump speech on C-SPAN in recent days, Democrats should not misunderestimate him. But this campaign won't be decided by Labor Day. We still have debates and the unknown to deal with, and that may matter this year more than ever.