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Home / Articles / News / Local News /  DNC Maze
Fred Harris
Former US Senator, presidential candidate, DNC Chairman and current New Mexico Obama delegate Fred Harris watches speeches on the big screen from the convention floor

DNC Maze

Navigating Denver—and Democrats

August 27, 2008, 12:00 am

So, you can’t make it to Denver for the 2008 Democratic National Convention? No worries; it’s a madhouse anyway. But, let’s see how you would have navigated the convention of the century.

  It’s Sunday night, the eve of the DNC, the hotels are booked bulging and even if you could find a room, it would cost you a kidney. You:
 
a. stay with your younger sister, a law student, who lives a dozen light-rail stops away from downtown. In exchange for the futon, you promise to defend her choice to study criminal rather than patent law to your parents. (You decide to use former New Mexico Attorney General and current Democratic Party Platform Committee Co-Chairwoman Patsy Madrid as an example of how far a prosecutorial background can get you.) Go to #2.

b. decide to crash on a hard floor in a downtown loft, within blocks of the Pepsi Center, home of the DNC. Thing is, you’re sharing that floor with a half-dozen other people. Go to #3  

2   After a night of many cigars and free drinks on Friends of Brian Colón’s tab (though, you’re told, the night is mostly coming out of Democratic Party Chairman Colón’s personal pocket), you return home to discover blogger Joe Monahan has used his confidential sources to belittle New Mexico journalists at the DNC. You:

a. stay up late blogging a razor-witted response. Go to #4

b. let it go and go to sleep. Go to #5

  You’re close enough to downtown to get to the live taping of Morning Joe on MSNBC at a downtown diner. You show up at the 7:30 am New Mexico delegate breakfast and, as a result, are invited to several swanky evening parties, including New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s poolside reception, sponsored by the firefighter’s union. You:

a. promise to attend and decide to spend the day shopping for bathing suits. Go to #9

b. explain that you’re playing it by ear. Go to #7

4   At the Denver Convention Center, where various caucuses are meeting, you run into Terri Holland, a jovial delegate who is still wearing her “Hillary for President” pin. She too is curious to know who gabbed to Monahan. Then you rendezvous with local New Mexican journalist and Obama delegate Gaye Pollitt, who is dressed like a parade float. You:

a. decide to attend the Hispanic Caucus. Go to #6

b. follow Pollitt to the First American Caucus. Go to #7

5   You wake up from a humiliating nightmare about man-eating alligators and guys typing in their underwear. You pack up and go home. Game Over.

6   The ballroom for the Hispanic Caucus is only half-full, even when Sen. Hillary Clinton arrives to rouse the crowd into Obama-fever. The applause and cheers fill the entire convention center and, when she’s done, you’re inspired to go directly to the Pepsi Center. Unfortunately, it’s completely dead. You:

a. decide to stake out a seat, which you sit on until the evening when Michelle Obama gives the keynote address. Go to #8

b. get bored, especially when you can’t connect to the Internet and head back to the 16th Street Mall for coffee and Wi-Fi. Go to #9

7   Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean speaks before the First American Caucus, committing especially to end poverty. But then you hear enormous cheers coming from down the hall. You:

a. leave the ballroom to go check out the noise. Go back to #6

b. are so inspired by the discussion of the plight of the downtrodden that you decide to go check out the protests on the 16th Street Mall. Go to #9

8   You wait and wait and wait and by the time you’ve sat through House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr, Barack Obama’s siblings and a dozen other speakers, you’re so exhausted that you sleep through Michelle Obama’s address. Afterward, you fall down the Pepsi Center stairs because of the pins and needles in your legs. Game Over.

 9   Outside one of the umpteen Starbucks on the 16th Street Mall, you’re caught in a fierce (and somewhat smelly) protest march by a coalition of anti-war, anti-government and anarchist groups organized by Re-create 68. You are arrested for standing in the street and blocking the free downtown shuttle and the police take you to the temporary warehouse detention center in Denver’s suburbs. Two days later you are released and immediately attend Ralph Nader’s “Open the Debates” rally, where you also see Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney and New Mexico-based actor Val Kilmer speak. Game Over.

10   You happen to get a temporary floor pass the moment before Michelle Obama takes the stage. You catch the ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy’s eye just as he promises to be at work in the Senate when Obama takes office. A Secret Service agent taps you on the shoulder and leads you to a private lounge party sponsored by a labor group. Kennedy asks you to be Barack Obama’s ambassador to Bali. With a speedy confirmation, you accept.

But wait, how did you get here? #10 wasn’t even an option. That’s right, because, more than anything, surviving the DNC is about luck, spontaneity and straying off the course.

What’s the next-best thing to attending the ’08 DNC? Staying online with SFR staff writer Dave Maass as he blogs it. Swingstateofmind.com for commentary, video and live chat.

 

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