Corner office

Norristown, PA, October 2008

This looks awfully convenient, I know. Three days ago I was writing about what a passive schlub I am, and the very next day I’m off campaigning for Obama in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia. Not premeditated, I assure you, but there it is.

What can I say? Thank you, Sarah Palin. She made her speech at the Republican convention. The speech ended, and within 5 minutes Duston had signed us up with the Obama campaign to go canvassing in Pennsylvania. So we went this weekend, and it was great. Inspiring. We met interesting people – both Democrats and Republicans – people who’re engaged, who’re worried sick, and who think about the issues (but reach some very different conclusions). Most interesting to me were the Republican women we met, who consistently told us that (a) they were staunch Republicans and supported McCain, and (b) they didn’t like Sarah Palin at all but “would have voted for Hillary if she’d been on the ballot” (as either the presidential OR vice-presidential candidate).

I guess the saddest person we met was a thirtyish guy walking his basset hound. “Yeah, I pretty much agree with Obama, and I think the war should end. But my business supplies the defense industry, and I have a family to feed, so I’m voting for McCain.” As I read it back, I think about how when I encounter quotes like this in the media they just seem too good to be true, that the reporter must have made this up to make a point. But I didn’t make it up, and he did say this. And I just thought – “you’re a cynical little shit, my friend”. 

On Saturday night we sat on various park benches in the historical district of downtown Philadelphia. We walked through the skeleton of Benjamin Franklin’s house, and sat behind Independence hall at twilight watching technicians fiddle with floodlights for a commercial walking tour. Three people in period costume walked  across the square and up the stairs of the hall. One of them was clearly the “Benjamin Franklin” character.  It was quiet, and for a few seconds of suspended disbelief one could almost imagine this place two hundred and fifty years ago. Stately, balanced, poised, confident. 

What on earth would they think of what’s happened?