Learned about the Clinton-Pederson-Mitchell rally on Hayden Lawn at ASU at the last minute today and sped like a Tasmanian devil down to Tempe to catch the action. Hayden Lawn was PACKED, and the highpoint of the late-afternoon rally -- the appearance of President Bill Clinton, did not disappoint. Eat your heart out Republicans, the guy's basically an effin' rock star, with all the charisma of JFK. They played him on with Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop," and played him off with U2's "It's a Beautiful Day." In between, he spoke about the importance of this election, and how the Republican Party was now ruled by ideology over pragmatism. How they had compromised the future of America with a national debt that forces us to borrow from the Chinese and others to finance tax cuts for the rich. How they took their eyes off the ball in Afghanistan, diverted resources for the Iraq morass, and are now in a state of complete denial, vilifying Democrats as scapegoats for Republican failures while in power. He then appealed to all assembled to represent the best that the Democratic Party has to offer.
I tell you, I really felt all of my stucco-encrusted cynicism melting for a moment as I listened. I really miss the guy. Too bad his wife lacks the kind of mass appeal that seems to be genetic for him. Maybe we should clone him. After his speech, he dove into the crowd, shook hands and basically let people love him for what seemed like a half-hour after the event. If we could run Bill again, he'd blow anything the Republicans have out of the water. Maybe Barack Obama is the next Bill Clinton. I don't know. But I know Hillary isn't it.
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Terry Goddard and Phil Gordon warmed up the crowd -- badly, with Pipsqueak Gordon goofing around the stage, talking about how he met his wife during Goddard's first campaign. (Yawn.) But once Clinton, accompanied by Harry Mitchell and Jim Pederson, arrived, people went nuts. Annoying, though, were Goddard and Gordon's statements beforehand that the crowd in front couldn't wave their signs because the TV cameras on a rise behind the audience wouldn't be able to get good shots of the podium. I almost felt like shouting "Fuck those goddamn reporters!" But then I remembered I was one of them. (Oops!) Fortunately, I'd staked out a spot to the right of the stage, and didn't have to hang out with the "drive-by media" as Rush "OxyContin" Limbaugh rightly calls them (us?).
I was impressed by Pederson. He's much better in person than on TV, funny on the stump, and seems tall and broad-shouldered. Weird. On TV, he always reminds me of that old comedian Foster Brooks for some reason, though bald and minus Brooks' beard. However, Mitchell seemed the weak link, more like the schoolteacher he used to be than a politician of any stripe. Instead of speaking extemporaneously, for instance, as did Pederson and Clinton, Mitchell carried his speech in a manila envelope. He doesn't come across as a jerk like Goddard and Goober Gordon. I'm sure he's a nice enough fella. But he needs help.
At one point, Clinton talked about how being on campus at ASU made him want to be 20 years old and in college again. I feel his pain. Walking from the parking lot at the ASU Foundation to Hayden Lawn, I noticed more coed hotties than you can shake a press pass at -- amazing. Are there more chicks at ASU than dudes? Sure seems like it.
PS: I know this sounds gay, but I got to shake his hand...