The view from here

by BillG on October 29, 2004

Election notes from Columbus, OH. Last week, John Kerry was in Katzinger’s, the deli around the corner from my house. Tonight he and Bruce Springsteen are at Ohio State University (OSU).

10/28/04 2:33 PM EST. I get a robot phone call from Ken Blackwell, the (Republican) Ohio Secretary of State. Big deal: Clinton called last night. If Ohio is Florida 2004, Blackwell will be Katherine Harris. I know you are thinking, “Das eine Malals Tragödie, das andere Mal als Farce,” but Harris nailed farce, so Ken has his work cut out for him. He reminds me that I can only vote in my correct precinct and asks if I know where this is (Me: “Yes.” Ken: “Excellent. Goodbye”). Some Ohioans view this an attempt to suppress the vote by getting people to worry about where they should go. That seems paranoid.

6:25 PM. At the OSU rally (30,000 present). A large group (1K?) of students for Bush marches in. Some of them were bused here, because later I see them being bused out. They are kept behind barriers at the periphery of the crowd, but everyone can hear their chants. The girls keep doing a fainting shriek that is surprisingly difficult to ignore. Kathi (a psychiatrist – and my research partner – and wife!) asks “How can anyone with a brain vote for Bush?” Me: “Empirical question. Let me go get one of them and we’ll take him to the MRI machine.” I get The Look. “Hey, 8 Tesla. If something’s in there, we’ll find it.” Bush will speak on Friday at the Nationwide Arena, where our NHL team plays. A much more expensive and, of course, controllable venue.

6:37 PM. The local pols speak. One of them says that the issue in this election is “the arrogance of one-party rule.” The PA plays “Keep on Rockin in the Free World.” I want to believe that this is a movement to restore democracy, and that it would survive either candidate’s victory. I’m encouraged that comments about process (“Did anyone have to sign a loyalty oath to get in here?”) play as well or better than points about jobs.

7:45 PM. Columbus’s Democratic Mayor takes the stage. “I’m Mike Coleman, and I am Mayor of the epicenter of the election.” He points out that the 2000 election was decided by 500 votes in Florida, and there are 50,000 students at OSU, so right here, right now “You can change the world.” We all look at each other — we’re on the fulcrum.

8:00 PM. BRUCE! I read the other day that Bush rocks his crowds – compared to whom? Springsteen’s a terrific speaker to boot. He closes with “No retreat, baby, no surrender!” What a step up from Clinton’s Fleetwood Mac or – christ – Dukakis’s Neil Diamond.

8:15 PM. Bruce introduces Kerry. Supposedly, Kerry’s crowds lack intensity. Not this time! Kerry is brief, clear. Not as good as Bruce, and he knows it and isn’t bothered by it. I am thrilled that the line “I will be a President who believes in science” gets a huge response from the crowd. No mention of the munitions. He promises that every child in America will get health insurance. As a professor of pediatrics, I find this breathtaking. How pathetic is that? Less impressively, he promises to make America energy independent. He makes a complicated point about property tax funding and equality of educational opportunities, and to my surprise the crowd really responds. The reason, I think, is that OSU gets a lot of bright kids from farm counties who describe Columbus as “the big city.” (You can rip tendons keeping a straight face here.) They meet suburban kids who went to schools that had everything, and draw the appropriate conclusions.

9:12 PM. We are walking down High St. to our car. A bus full of students for Bush drives by with their heads out the window yelling slogans. Do they follow the Kerry campaign? This bus is all white males in white shirts and ties. Perfect. Not an OSU look, to put it mildly, so it must be how the right wing does nose rings. Hypotheses about incestuous sexual preferences are exchanged.



Duane 10.29.04 at 3:36 pm

Let me give a warm welcome from the spectator stands! Great, funny post. God knows, on this topic, I can really do with a laugh.


nolo (in lovely Cleveland, Ohio) 10.29.04 at 3:46 pm

I got the same canned call from Ken Blackwell this morning, and at first I had the same paranoid reaction. Then I wondered what would have happened if I’d answered “no” when I was asked if I knew my precinct.


John Davies 10.29.04 at 3:47 pm

If your wife wants to contact me I’ll provide my resume to prove that this Bush voter has a brain. Or we could meet in E. Cambridge, OH. It’s about half way to me in Pittsburgh. She might be suprised at how deeply the other side thinks.


InsultComicDog 10.29.04 at 3:47 pm

Sounds good. Time to get our azzes in gear.


Extinct Tory 10.29.04 at 3:49 pm

Great fun! Am sending it to my Ohio friends back home. Well, except for the one running for Clark County Commissioner on the GOP ticket.


Ramu Isagod 10.29.04 at 3:51 pm

Thanks for the post. I’m curious if these stories (links below) are being widely reported in Ohio and whether you can see any effective countermeasures being taken.


Chad Baker 10.29.04 at 4:10 pm

If Ohio suffers the fate of Florida in 2000, at least they won’t go through it alone. We here in the Sunshine State see nothing different from four years ago and it may even be worse this time.


Adi 10.29.04 at 4:23 pm

well Columbus IS a big city compared to Athens (where i currently live), and most of rural SE Ohio.

though not a citizen, i have travelled around this area, cause one of my roomies is from a nearby county and i have seen a lot of pro-dem yard signs etc on the rural highways. there still is a chance hopefully of Ohio swinging the dem way


Redshift 10.29.04 at 4:39 pm

Great post; keep the news coming!

Supposedly, Kerry’s crowds lack intensity.

This is just another one of those GOP talking points that gets circulated despite the truth, like the reporters talking about there being “several hundred” people at the Philly Kerry-Clinton appearance.

I’m so glad to hear that “I will be a President who believes in science” is getting such a response. That was the line in Kerry’s convention acceptance speech that went straight to my heart and made me think “He’s talking to *me*!” It could easily be dropped in the campaign in favor of issues like the war and the economy that have a more immediate impact, but for our long term leadership (intellectual and economic), I think it’s just as important, if not more so.


Ramu Isagod 10.29.04 at 4:50 pm

Paranoid, yet?

Wray filed a challenge against 25-year-old Barbara Jean DeWilde of Stow, but testified that he had no personal knowledge that DeWilde didn’t live at her Stow address, other than information he received from Summit County Republican Party headquarters.

DeWilde called the challenge “a mockery of America’s free election process.”


HP 10.29.04 at 7:29 pm

Here in Hamilton County, OH, I got a postcard a couple weeks ago confirming my registration and naming my precinct and polling place. Is that not SOP in all Ohio counties?

No call from Blackwell, unless that’s the prerecorded message from an out-of-state number (“Are you voting in the November 2nd Presidential Election?”). I didn’t pick up. If they call back, I’ll answer “No” and see what happens.


Dell Adams 10.29.04 at 7:38 pm

“Hey, 8 Tesla. If something’s in there, we’ll find it.”

BillG, you only thought you were kidding.

(Via Instapundit, via Editors in Pajamas)


nolo 10.29.04 at 9:07 pm

hp, I bet that was the call. My caller ID picked up the Ken Blackwell call as coming from a Virginia number.


Glen 10.29.04 at 11:25 pm


My cousin attended the same concert: she said it was amazing (and she’s ummmm-somthing). On 15 minutes’ notice, she also got to a Kerry rally in Dublin, northwest of Columbus. Again, the crowd was going nuts. I don’t know why these events are described like mildly enthusiastic chess tournaments.

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