Man in the middle - Page 5

From Burning Man to Denver, there's a new politics emerging in America, maybe even a new American Dream -- and it's not all about Barack Obama
Photo by Mirissa Neff

"The speeches are OK, but this is what it's about."

And pretty soon, this kid in the candy shop was losing his mind as we watched a series of genuinely newsworthy developments in an otherwise scripted convention: California Democratic Party Chair Art Torres was saying "California passes" rather than reporting our votes, states like New Jersey and Arkansas were awarding all their votes to Obama and causing the room to go nuts, and a series of states were yielding to others.

As the chair worked alphabetically through the states, Obama's home state of Illinois became the second state to pass. Very interesting. Indiana gave 75 of its 85 votes to Obama. Minnesota gave 78 of its 88 votes to Obama, then erupted in a spirited cheer of "Yes we can." Daly and San Francisco delegate London Breed were on their feet, cheering, chanting, and pumped.

With Obama getting close to the number of delegates he needed to win the nomination (there was no tally on the floor and I later learned Obama had 1,550 of the 2,210 votes he needed), New Mexico's representative announced that the state was "yielding to the land of Lincoln." Anticipation built that Illinois would be the state to put its junior senator over the top.

Then Illinois yielded to New York, and the screens showed Clinton entering the hall and joining the New York delegation. "In the spirit of unity and with the goal of victory," Clinton said, "let us declare right now that Barack Obama is our candidate."

She made the motion to suspend the vote count and have the whole hall nominate Barack Obama by acclamation. Pelosi took the podium and asked the crowd, "Is there a second?" And the room erupted in thousands of seconds to the motion on the floor. She asked all in favor to say "aye," and the room rumbled with ayes. To complete the process, Pelosi said those opposed could say no, but simultaneously gaveled the motion to completion, causing the room to erupt with cheers. I heard not a single nay.

The band broke out into "Love Train" and everyone danced.


Mayor Gavin Newsom threw a big party Aug. 27, drawing a mix of young hipsters, youngish politicos, and a smattering of corporate types in suits and ties. Although he didn't get a speaking slot at the convention, Newsom is widely seen as a rising star in the party, far cooler than most elected officials, and maybe even too cool for his own good.

Comedian Sarah Silverman did a funny bit to open the program at the Manifest Hope Gallery (which showcased artwork featuring Obama), then introduced Newsom by saying, "I'm honored to introduce a great public servant and a man I would like to discipline sexually, Gavin Newsom."

Apparently Newsom liked it because he grabbed Silverman and started to grope and nuzzle into her like they were making out, then acted surprised to see the crowd there and took the microphone. It was a strange and uncomfortable moment for those who know about his past sex scandal and recent marriage to Jennifer Siebel, who was watching the spectacle from the wings.

But it clearly showed that Newsom is his own biggest fan, someone who thinks he's adorable and can do no wrong, which is a dangerous mindset in politics.

Another slightly shameless aspect of the event was how overtly Newsom is trying associate himself with Obama (the party was a salute to the "Obama Generation") after strongly backing Clinton in the primaries. And then, of course, there's the fact that his party was sponsored by PG&E (a corrupting influence in San Francisco politics) and AT&T (facilitators of the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping policy).

I was able to interview Newsom about Clinton before the party. "People can criticize her, but I do think that you've never seen a runner-up do so much to support the party's nominee," Newsom told me.