Monday, July 26, 2004

Convention Diary – Sunday, July 25

From the Faithful Correspondent:

Today was a day of figuring it all out. We first needed to figure out how to access the second floor of the building where the Ohio Democratic Party’s information and registration desk is located and where all the daytime meetings and caucuses will take place. We’re on the 20th floor and the elevators will go from the lobby to there, but access to the the second and third floors has been blocked out, you can’t get there from here, perhaps for security reasons – no one tells us. Sandy Isenberg, chair of the Lucas County Democratic Party, is on our elevator with Frank Szollosi, councilman, and she explains the drill to us: we must go down to the lobby and ride an escalator to the second floor. OK, got that, do it. We register at the Ohio desk, giving the names of person to be notified in case of catastrophe to me, the delegate, with address, phone, relationship, cell # of same. We head for breakfast at the cafe off the lobby, pausing to buy a handful of buttons, stickers, a bag for me, a polo shirt for Dad, a bumper sticker. Four buttons for $10, money going to the DNC. Collectors items, I assure myself. An investment. We have schmoozed with Dennis White, Ohio Democratic Party Chair and Todd Rensi, the convention coordinator for Ohio. The hotel is filling up as more delegates arrive and now the lobby is swarming with all sorts, sizes, colors and shapes of happy and excited human beings wearing Kerry buttons and the t-shirts of their respective loyalties. Bottles of water and cookies decorated like political buttons are on offer free thanks to the Sheraton hotel. It’s like a huge cocktail party but at 11:00 in the morning.

Dad takes himself off to go to see where Vermont is couched so he can talk up Robin Weirauch to the Dean Foundation in hopes of getting a grant for Robin’s campaign. The Vermont delegation is a tiny cluster of people housed in the Hilton, who are lonely and happy to talk to the guy from the big importat Swing State across the street. No Howard Dean, but Dad left him a message. Worth a try. Dad also stops at the Sheraton concierge desk and makes a dinner reservation. Then we head to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts by cab, but not before we nearly knock down Dennis Kucinich who’s standing by the revolving door. A tiny little guy with an appealing, open face.

At the Museum we spend a couple of hours wandering through this treasurehouse of Americana – there are all the famous Copleys, Peales and Sargents, and wonderful American furniture. There’s also a superb special exhibit of Greek art and artifacts depicting athletes performing some of the same games as are now acted out in our modern day Olympic games, all tracing the ancient sources and sites. Modern photography of great athletes and Muybridge’s experimental “action” photography hang beside amphora showing wrestlers and chariots. It’s a beautifully conceived exhibit.

We’ve been invited to attend a cocktail reception given by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Action Fund, the IRS category 501-C5 (political arm) of the PPFA. It’s held at the law offices of Foley Hoag in a building at the Seaport Trade Center, the new development on the docks out in the harbor. The firm has given pro bono legal service to Massachusetts Planned Parenthood for over 26 years . . . .many thousand of dollars worth and they were duly honored by the current board chairperson of the Advocacy Fund. The party was packed in expectation of hearing Gloria Steinem, who is now involved with Voters For Choice Action Fund, and Gloria Feldt, President of Planned Parenthood. The Glorias didn’t disappoint. Steinem is a dynamic speaker who filled us with dread and a sense of urgency about the importance of this election. “Nothing in the 30 years I’ve been involved with women’s issues has filled me with such a sense of crisis as we face now . . .” And Gloria Feldt told us that if Planned Parenthood volunteers and clients can get out the vote we will move 3% of the electorate to Kerry and to victory. It all sounded so possible and so important. We came away inspired. Dianne Luby, the President of the affiliate introduced John Kerry’s sister, who has been a friend of Steinem’s for years and has attended the conferences in Cairo and Beijing with her. She spoke of the immediate actions Kerry would take to reverse the Bush executive orders with regard to women’s choice here and abroad. Also in the room was Teresa Heinz Kerry’s sister, a pretty little plump woman much resembling her sister.

Our evening ended at Jimmy’s Harborside Restaurant, a short walk away from the law offices. We had a table overlooking the water and next to the table of 18 people where Jerry Brown (Governor Moonbeam) held court in his distinctive tenor whine. He reminds me of the former Mayor of Toledo, Carty Finkbeiner, who controls any conversation because his voice is the loudest. Madeleine Albright stopped by to pay her respects to Jerry’s group before moving off to her own table. She looks younger and thinner than her photographs. And behind us in the corner was a table of eight which featured Joe Biden and some others we didn’t recognize. The two of us were as star struck as teenagers, I confess, but I’m sure by the time the week is out we’ll have become completely blase.

Time to turn in . . .morning and the daily caucus comes early. Both Clintons tomorrow night at the Fleet Center.