By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
And yet, I keep trying. Edwards’ final rally in New Hampshire was at the Palace, an old-time vaudeville proscenium where the Marx Brothers and George Burns used to take the stage. The place was mostly full, even up in the balcony. There was a chance for real fireworks again, since it was a perfect setting for Edwards: dramatic, gold-filigreed, designed for performance. It was the day before the primary, the last push. But it was still not quite satisfying. Edwards shows no fatigue, but he can’t muster up enough energy to fill the entire room. The audience claps and hollers again, and maybe it’s my jaded ears, but the magic of the night before the caucuses is missing. Still, I do feel a twinge when he hits those notes about this democracy being our democracy, about fixing what’s wrong in Washington, and I find myself hoping that he gets a bigger bounce than some are predicting in New Hampshire, so I can keep trying to chase that Edwards high to keep me warm through the winter.
RUDY IN 2008?
Ex–New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s parachute drop into New Hampshire’s Democratic fray last Saturday was well-timed, but poorly choreographed. The bus pulled up to a place called Nacho’s Taqueria, where Bush volunteers had gathered. The watering hole is stuffed in the back of a basement restaurant in this tight, indoor mall sort of building that was not really conducive to accommodating a large crowd. Giuliani’s descent into Nacho’s required three tough pushes: through a crowded entrance, down a crowded stairway, and then across a crowded restaurant floor to a little media setup where he made some very quick remarks.
Also inopportune was Nacho’s main-drag location on Elm, not far from the Dean, Edwards and Kerry headquarters. And Nacho’s happens to sit just between the Gourmet Café, where there’s free wireless, and therefore a constant ad hoc Kucinich field office, and the Dunkin’ Donuts, which is sort of the Jezreel Valley of Democratic activity in downtown Manchester, since all the armies of campaign staffers and volunteers pass through daily. So when the bus pulled up, Giuliani and his supporters were surrounded by a confederation of Democratic foes from each camp. The usual chants— “EDWARDS — Oh yes — ’cause John is the best”; “JK All the Way”; “We want Dean!” — gave way to a unified chorus of No Bush! No Bush! No Bush!
I saw it all from inside Dunkin’ Donuts, where I was sitting with John Hlinko. He’s the technologically inclined political consultant who began the Draft Clark movement, which means he, and he alone, is the reason why Clark is running around New Hampshire talking about family values and trying to defend Michael Moore on Meet the Press. We had seen the crush of Giuliani’s arrival right up close, but decided to ditch Nacho’s when it got too hot. “I like Giuliani,” Hlinko said as we sat down with a couple French Krullers. “I would vote for him.” I asked if he would have started a Draft Giuliani movement, and he said yes. Which makes Hlinko something unusual: the originator of what seems to be a sudden, small, but extraordinarily passionate, grassroots centrism.
But it’s an open centrism, rather than the narrow bandwidth where you can only tune in Lieberman. That’s why Clark is on the cover of The Advocatethis month, and why Hlinko chatted easily with a small Kucinich crew who came in from the cold. “Kucinich is pretty cool,” Hlinko said. “I think he has a lot of good ideas. Tell you what, I’ll take a look at Kucinich if you take a look at Clark. He’s a good man.” They left Hlinko with a copy of Kucinich’s well-designed newspaper foldout with the bold-type pronouncement: “Fear Ends. Hope Begins.”
It’s a great slogan, actually — the basic theme that the Democrats will have to drive home against the Republicans in November. Which, it happened, was just then being foreshadowed again outside by the Bush-Cheney bus. Giuliani and company had debouched back onto the street into the mass of waiting Democrats. Placards up again: Clark; Edwards; Kerry; Lieberman; Dean. And the chants too. It was an encouraging chaos. “Ever read The Hobbit?” I asked Hlinko. “Yes, why?” he asked. “The Battle of the Five Armies,” I said. “The Elves, Dwarves, Men, even the Eagles — they all unite at the end to defeat the evil Smaug circling overhead.”
“Hey, there he is!” one Kucinich supporter said. “Let’s go out there.” And they lifted their signs and stepped back out into the cold.
Hanging at JD’s
The best hotel in Manchester is the Holiday Inn on Elm and Granite. It’s not a great hotel, but it’s been full for weeks, since the press and campaigns book there early so as to not wind up in the many less desirable lodgings around town. On the ground floor is JD’s Tavern, the bar and restaurant that is the closest thing to a primary power hangout in New Hampshire. On any given night these days, the place is filled with writers, correspondents, TV producers, campaign strategists, press secretaries, and floating among them are the luminaries: George Stephanopolous, Chris Mathews, Peter Jennings, and my favorite sighting, Garry Trudeau.