Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Obama-rama in Nashville

Nashville's Obama Headquarters asked for volunteers to be a presence for the media who would be descending upon the city in advance of the presidential debate to be held at Belmont University tonight. Thinking about traffic and parking, I volunteered for the first shift: 5:30 to 8:30 a.m. We were to gather at Bongo Java, a coffeehouse across the street from the University. E-mails went out to announce a change in location but I haven't checked mine for a day.

It was after dawn when a few of us out-of-the-loop Obama volunteers got the word to move to another location. We got there in time to gather for a planned appearance by Rich of Big and Rich, the country duo, to sing his song about McCain for the CBS Morning Show. Obama supporters far outnumbered McCain people; our signs were visible in the background but we were told to keep quiet except to cheer on cue.

Most of us were astonished at the way we were being managed by the media for John McCain's benefit. Harry Smith kept mentioning the First Amendment as he admonished us to be silent while Rich sang and was being interviewed. Go figure. I was up front and kept trying to get my Obama sign into the picture but finally just moved in so close to Rich that he decided to hug me. The crowd which had been quite dissatisfied with its CBS designated role as a silent walk-on for McCain was relieved by my action.

Rich's song was "Raising McCain" and I just kept thinking about how Cain in the Bible killed his brother and when God asked him about where Abel was Cain replied to God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Later on during an impromptu interview with Ann Payne, a reporter for the Tennessean, I brought that up as an appropriate way to portray the so-called maverick who wants to tax the poor and give the rich as many tax breaks as possible: "Just look at what Cain did to his brother?"

There were so many beautiful Obama people there including a lovely couple from Brentwood who recently moved here from Japan with the Nissan corporation which moved its headquarters here. I also found a soul mate, Keren or KB, a beautiful African American woman who was wearing the best Obama shirt I've seen; it featured portraits of Rosa Parks, Madame C.J. Walker, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Coretta Scott King circling a portrait of Obama, larger in size and sort of golden hued. Later I met Tony, a young grandfather, wearing another beautiful Obama shirt. Another young man had on a T-shirt showing a muscular Obamish Kent Clark busting out as Superman. Along the way I got to meet Bob Schieffer who preceded Katie Couric as CBS anchor and now hosts a CBS news show Sunday mornings. A member of his staff even took my picture with him.

It was wonderful to be with so many beautiful, hopeful people...I'm so glad I was invited to be a part of the early morning Obama crowd.