!! I saw Howard Dean last night !!

and as much as I am creeped out by really devoted followers of political candidates and as much as I hate chanting someone’s name in a group setting, I have to admit I felt a little moved. When Bennett and I first got there, Anthony Rapp was on stage singing “Seasons of Love” and I couldn’t think of anything worse that I could be subjected to on a Tuesday night. After eating a little Ben and Jerry’s and finding a spot in the crowd, we waited for the speakers to start, and I’ll say they were a mixed bag: a mixture of totally inexperienced public speakers, one total spaz (that guy deserves a blog posting devoted to him. Maybe I will do it later), one MC who was barely holding it all together, and a couple seasoned politicians. I would rate the preshow as altogether lackluster.
However, when Howard Dean came on the stage, aside from the fact that

he was the only one so far who knew how to hold the microphone so we could hear him, he commanded attention, at least mine. He started on his talking points: the war in Iraq, universal health care for children, school funding, disability funding, and some very carefully worded statements about gay rights. Then he talked about race, and he said that was how he was going to win the Presidency: by talking about race. Among some choice phrases was the one “when white, brown, and black people come together, that is when true progress is made” or something like that. At that precise moment, the camera cut strategically to this Indian girl in the front row who looked a little dismayed/pissed/bewildered (her expression was sort of hard to read). I guess they had to do that since there were more people of color on the stage than in the crowd. Dean keeps saying he needs to work on diversity among his supporters, and I would have to agree with him.
Despite the flaws, I’m going to parrot all those people who call him “magnetic” and say that even though he is speaking rhetoric, for some reason it sounds like the truth. Both of these things are true, and he had my rapt attention the entire time. He also gave me hope for the future, even if it’s a tenuous hope that A. he might win the nomination, B. he might beat Bush, C. he might not be completely lying about everything, and D. he will actually be a competent enough administrator to follow through on his promises. I think the likelihood of any one of these things being true is about 50%, but we need hope, and Howard Dean is the best that I have found.
Also of note: the Bryant Park rally was on the front page of the NY Times today. Read their article here.

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