Sunday, January 20, 2008
Meeting the House whip & CNN's DC bureau chief: The SC debate, episode 3
My friend Stewart arrived at my hotel this morning in his red van and drove me over to the Palace Theatre for a press conference and tour of the debate venue that had been organized for us media reps by the Congressional Black Caucus and CNN. Rep James Clyburn spoke. "He's the House of Representatives majority whip," someone said. I put on my "www.ImpeachBush.org" truckers cap and sat down to listen.
This press conference took place in the foyer of the theater. There were lots of sound trucks parked outside and lots of cameramen and reporters within. Good grief. Those are REAL reporters here! It was just like playing dress-up. I loved it. I was BORN to do this! Me and Mary Tyler Moore!
Then Rep. Clyburn introduced Rep. Benny Thompson and Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, also of the Congressional Black Caucus. "Barbara Lee is MY Congressperson," I proudly whispered to the guy next to me. "She's in the Black Caucus too!" Then I pulled off my sweater and showed him my "Maudelle Sherik" T-shirt. Was he impressed? No. But I was. This was truly a special day for me. It was like walking into Black History Month. These three Congressional representatives are legendary heroes in Congress.
"I bring you greetings from 41 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, representing over 40 million Americans," said Rep. Clyburn. And then he introduced David Borman, the CNN Washington DC bureau chief, who talked about Martin Luther King Jr. "The Martin Luther King holiday is not to be forgotten." Hear, hear. "At this debate, there will be no rules and no time limits. People will be able to call in and e-mail questions from all over the world. And it is going to set the tone for the rest of the primary season. Any questions?"
"Yes," I replied. "Will Rep. Dennis Kucinich be in the debate?"
"No. He didn't meet the criteria." Oh. But at least Edwards will be allowed to debate. Whew. That's a relief. And then we were given a list of names of who had been invited to be in the debate's audience. Hmmm. Howard Dean. Al Sharpton. Martin Luther King III. Dave Chapell. I felt like a kid in a candy store. So much hot gossip. So much news.
Then everyone at the press conference in the foyer trooped off to tour the stage set and I cornered poor David Borman and asked him if he would help me get back into Iraq. "I've been to Iraq," he jokingly replied. "And I like Myrtle Beach much better."
"Ah, but have you been to the dining facility at Camp Al Asad!" We both laughed. And then I pointed to my "Impeach Bush" truckers cap and we both laughed again.
Then Borman totally surprised me by giving me a ten-minute exclusive interview onstage at the debate venue. Stewart had asked me to ask Borman who had been responsible for setting the criteria for who would be allowed to debate.
"This will be a big issue for the future," Stewart said. "Allowing media organizations the power to to determine who will be in the presidential debates is not a good idea. The debates establish who are the legitimate candidates and who are not. And that essentially says who will be our next president. Sure I don't want a thousand morons up on the stage; we would never find out anything about the candidates. There has to be a criteria for who are allowed in the debates. But my question is, 'Who is making that criteria'?"
During my interview with him, Borman's basic message was, "In the beginning, CNN had as many candidates as possible at the debates because the field was wide open. But now the voters have spoken and we are following their lead."
"But do you think that you are following their lead or creating it?" And remember that during the debates, Hillary and Obama were asked the meaty questions and candidates like Kucinich got questions thrown at him like, "Do you believe in space aliens?" I mean, really. Give me a break.
"No, we really do try to not influence the process and we listen to what the voters have to say."
Borman seemed to really want to talk to me after I had asked the question about Dennis Kucinich and to clear this all up. But I hadn't had anything to eat since that KFC I bought the night before while researching hookers, except for another bag of Fritos (my favorite) given to me by an extremely helpful member of Rep. Clyburn's staff and I was totally starving at the time and can't remember word-for-word how our conversation went but here's what I think I remember that he and I said.
"I liked Kucinich," said Borman. "I also liked Gravel. He was serving in Congress during the Vietnam war and he brought a sense of history to the debates. Also he's a very intelligent man. But he was eliminated at the beginning. I myself was sorry to see him go. And as for Edwards, he ran on a strong union platform and expected to do well in Nevada which is a strong union state, so we were keeping our eyes on that primary to see how he did. But despite Nevada's strong union stance, Edwards got his ass kicked."
"But but but but..." I said.
"But the Democrat voters seem to be focused on just three candidates whereas the Republican voters are less certain." Yeah. And here's why. They got nothing but war-mongers and cretins to chose from! But McCain just won the SC Republican primary so maybe the choice is gonna be "warmonger" instead of "cretin". But if the Repubs play their cards right, they will get to have both. Again. For another eight years.
But back to the Democrats. I wonder which candidate will win the final nomination? Which reminds me of a rumor that Obama may chose Edwards for a running mate if he wins. That would be good -- if Edwards would actually go along with running for VP again. And my friend Nancy from Iowa just e-mailed me that Hillary wasn't half as bad as I think. But whatever. From past experience I have learned the hard way that no matter who the Dems put up for President, somehow or other America will still end up with a Republican warmongering cretin in the White House. Mark my words. But maybe I should try to be more objective and stop being so mean. Nah.
Back to David Borman. I was really impressed with him. He not only seemed to know what he was talking about but also to be a real person too. Not a fake. Not just a talking head. He knew his issues and had his answers down cold. Maybe HE should run for President.
Then I shamed some other reporter into taking a photo of me sitting on stage in one of the candidate chairs -- the one in the middle -- and then Stewart and I went to Denny's for dinner. Stewart had the meatloaf. I had the turkey senior citizen special. With salad and fries. And we talked about the Iraq "war."
"I think that when we pull our troops out of Iraq -- and the sooner the better works for me -- then my guess is Iraq will be okay," said Stewart, a Marine. "After our troops withdraw, Iraq will probably form into three loosely connected 'soft' states. The Kurds should have an area of their own. And then the Saudis and the Sunnis will have a second area and the Shia and the Iranians will have the third one." Sounds like a plan. Then America will be able to avoid going bankrupt from all the pork that goes toward keeping our military contractors happy . Oops. That's already happened. Too late.