Black & White Observations

By Mel Black & Mark White

Observations from the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

By Mark White

There is a caucus for almost everyone: Hispanic Caucus, AAPI Caucus, LGBT Caucus, Rural Council, Disability Caucus, etc.

If the attendees would ignore the protestors, the protestors would go home.

Every politician wants his picture taken.

Every politician says the same thing, they just word it differently.

There were over 3,800 police officers from all over the United States.

Any kind of attire can be seen at the convention.

Both young and old attend.

All the major news groups have to have something to talk about 24/7.

Old politicians don’t fade away, they just keep coming back even if they are deceased, ie Ted Kennedy.

Politics runs in families, ie the Kennedy’s/Biden’s, ect.

It is unknown exactly what Delegates do for 4 days except eat, drink, and be merry.

Everyone uses teleprompters. My dog, Bobo, could make as good of a speech as anyone using a teleprompter.

There are way too many makeup stations.

The media is more important to the convention than Delegates. We were told there were over 2 times as many media reps as delegates.

After all these years, I understand how Jim Jones convinced those folks to drink his lemonade.

After a hard rain in Charlotte, the ground is very slippery.

Undoubtedly, all the speeches are written by the same writers. Some of the catch phrases this year are “Let me make it clear” and “Make no mistake”.

It costs way too much money to put on a convention of this size.

When Bill Clinton speaks, everyone at the convention listens.

There was only one “great” speech.

If I heard “from the middle class out not from the top down” once, I heard it 10,000 times.

The middle class goes to church, works hard, and believes in God.

The folks in charge did a great job in preparation for the convention except for the Bank of America Stadium Fiasco. I think that change was made because they could not fill it.

Going to any convention of this magnitude is a once in a lifetime experience.

The dogs (canines) that work for the Secret Service, etc, work way too hard.

A great debt of gratitude is owed to all the law enforcement, secret service, fire and rescue personell, security forces of all kinds.

The heavy hitters speak later on the program.

If the chairman of the party says it’s a 2/3 majority, it is a 2/3 majority.

I sure am glad to be home!

There is gold in them there hills around Charlotte, NC.

Observations from the 2012 Democratic National Convention

By Mel Black-

The event was very well organized. From the City of Charlotte to the Secret Service to Law Enforcement to the Fire Marshall to the staff and volunteers at the Convention Center and Time Warner Area, things seemed in control.

Police officers were on duty from many states and across North Carolina. I saw officers from Boone, Belmont, Raleigh, Fayetteville, other towns I can’t recall and of course Charlotte. The Chicago Police Department was in charge of Convention Center. Every single one asked preferred the White Sox over the Cubs.

Jesse Jackson was very gracious and cordial. He had just finished a television interview and was about to take a break and have a snack provided by an assistant, but he took the time to talk with us about election strategy.

Paul Begala is a very enthusiastic in person. The upbeat political commentator thrived on interviews and making the case for reelecting the President.

Madeleine Albright is much revered. The 75 year old former Secretary of State was a big hit on the floor, with delegates lined up to meet her. As she was nearly to an exit, a man ran to meet her, shook her hand and explained why he named his daughter “Madeleine.”

Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ, is a rising political star. At 43 years old, he can deliver an old time political speech with the best of them. I missed his address to the full convention, but covered his speech at a caucus meeting. He can connect with the crowd, drive home a point, and show his detailed understanding and convictions on a topic.

Downtown was cut in half. The Secret Service manned a 10 foot or so high black metal fence that split downtown Charlotte mostly around the Brevard Street area.

Umbrellas and other rain gear. What happens to the huge stack of rain gear left outside Time Warner Arena when folks left?

The right to free speech is alive and well. Protestors held signs and pictures and made speeches (sometimes for hours at a time) on wide variety of issues. Some would attract groups who would crowd around to see and hear, while others stood silently in a corner as the world passed by. Most noticeable were the large anti-abortion signs (several feet high and several feet wide) that were very graphic in nature. There was one street preacher who literally wore sack cloth.

Walking is a must. I wish I would have measured the miles walked each day and for the entire convention. With parking some distance away from the venue and with streets closed and fences up, waking was the way to travel. Some folks took taxis, hotel shuttles, or private cars, but the best way to go was walking. There were guys transporting a few people on bike taxis or pedicabs, but there were much too few of those to make an impact.

What the Chair says goes. Democratic National Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa took a voice vote on an amendment of the platform. With a rowdy group of “No” votes he nearly read the teleprompter and announced a two-third vote. After taking two more voice votes and have someone from behind the stage come out whisper to him, he took a third vote and called it two-thirds for the “Ayes.” It didn’t sound like two-thirds.

It is nearly impossible for me to see and hear Minnesota Senator Al Franken without thinking of a Saturday Night Live character.

Dee Dee Williams, Council Member from Winston Salem, in explaining that people have to work together and not everybody will always get what they want said, “This ain’t Burger King. You can’t always have it your way.”

Hawaii, Illinois, Delaware, and North Carolina had prime front row spots for the entire convention.

The North Carolina delegates on the first few rows were very enthusiastic and just happened to be a few feet away from an area designated for media. Delegates were in photographs and video news coverage worldwide. One NC delegate received an email from a friend in Germany showing his photograph in a German newspaper.

North Carolina used a trick to weed out interlopers. With folks trying to sneak into seats in North Carolina’s prime location, David Parker, the party Chairman, announced a plan at the delegates’ breakfast Thursday morning. He instructed delegates who saw anyone they weren’t sure of to ask the person to name their County and County seat. In taking a seat in the nearly empty NC section early afternoon on Thursday to organize my notes and change my camera battery, I was promptly asked my County and County seat.

Hawaii representatives interviewed were especially proud to have their native son be the President of the United States and were glad to make the long trip to Charlotte.

“Fired up and ready to go” chants started about 4:30 Thursday, about six hours before the President was scheduled to speak.

Live performances at the convention ranged from James Taylor to Mary J. Blige to the Foo Fighters.

Jennifer Granholm, former Governor of Michigan, was a ball of fire. If you missed her speech, go find it on the internet. She was excited, gave a strong delivery of clever analogies, and whipped the crowd into frenzy.

Brian Schweitzer, Governor of Montana, seemed to enjoy his speech. Some speakers looked nervous. Some, like Caroline Kennedy, seemed to just lifelessly read the words from the teleprompter. It looked like Governor Schweitzer was legitimately having a good time up there and could have gone on for longer.

Our troops were honored on multiple occasions. The most moving was a video tribute to troops and their families followed by an address by Admiral John B. Nathman, United States Navy, Retired. Nearly the entire convention hall was covered with blue signs that read, “Thank You.”

Charlie Crist, Former Governor of Florida, must love his fan. Just before he spoke, stage personnel placed a small battery operated fan behind the podium. It was angled up so that it would blow air on him as he spoke. After his address, the fan was quickly whisked away. Strange.

The regular line up did what they were asked to do. John Kerry took shots at the opponents, Joe Biden gave us a look at the courage and backbone of steel of his boss, and all the others played their roles.

President Obama’s speech was well received by the choir. He was comfortable, confident, and made it clear, that unlike four years ago, he was addressing the convention not as a candidate, but as President of the United States.

When the Leader of the Free World speaks, people take note. Even seasoned reporters, many of whom do not agree politically with this administration, whipped out their phone and took pictures of the President or had a colleague take their picture with the President in the background. It is nice to see the Office of the President respected.

Bill Clinton is still Bill Clinton. The former President gave a speech that dominated the three days and that will not be soon forgotten. During almost every other speech, people kept about their business. Delegates chatted, huddled or moved about the floor. Media carried in equipment, conducted interviews, or moved about getting photographs. Vendors vended. People walked around in the corridors, eating, talking on their mobile phone or looking for a place to charge their phones. Not with Bill Clinton. Things came to a standstill and an eerie hush fell on the arena as Clinton captivated the entire place. He has the unique ability to command the attention of all present and folks hung on his every word. It was remarkable and unlike anything I have seen before.

This was certainly an interesting convention but I do not think I need to go to another one.

Share this story
Show More

Related Articles