Saturday, February 23, 2008

I just got media credentials for the Ohio primary debates! What now, punk!

The 2008 presidential primaries have been interesting and exciting so far. It's been like watching a horse race, where at first the field was all bunched up and no leading horses were clearly emerging until they entered the backstretch. But now, nearing the finish line, a few major candidates have obviously pulled ahead.

John McCain is winning the Republican primary race. Can you believe it? John McCain! Don't let me get started on that one! We'll be here all night.

McCain was involved in the Keating Five scandal, spent major time with a lobbyist for the telecom industry precisely at a point when he had the power to grant her three wishes. Perhaps she wasn't another Monica Lewinsky -- who knows? But he should never have had anything to do with her in the first place. And not to mention that McCain allegedly had an affair with another woman when he first got out of the Hanoi Hilton, cheating on his wife who had loyally stuck by him for all those years when he was in prison camp. But you just watch. All McCain's sins will be washed away by the media. No millions of dollars will be paid to Kevin Starr to investigate him!

McCain is a Republican. Republicans are allowed to do stuff like that.

The Hillary-Obama horse race has also been fun to watch. I covered their debate in South Carolina and it was totally a trip. Plus seeing the debate from inside the press filing room and the "Spin Room" was fascinating. One had access to the insights of the working press, got to meet media personalities, saw the candidates up close, watched the Secret Service in action, got caught up in the swirl of excitement, had access to various buffet tables, reveled in the ambiance and was given cute little CNN reporters' note pads and chocolate postcards of Myrtle Beach as well.

And while I'm off covering the Ohio debate, I will also have a chance to check out the story on Rep. Dennis Kucinich's hotly-contested defense of his Congressional seat. Due to his stance in favor of impeaching George W. Bush, Dennis has been under the gun a lot lately and, in an effort to eliminate a thorn in GWB's side, Bush's cronies have been funding Kucinich's opponents right and left. I could go check up on that action too.

And I could see snow for the first time in 20 years as well.

But what is most important about this trip is that I would have something interesting and exciting to write about, served up on a silver platter. And I would have a story that would be almost as good as my Kuwait airport story or the time I got to ask John McCain about his plans for attacking Iran. A good journalist lives for these moments!

So yesterday when I got my e-mail from Cleveland State University saying that they had credentialed me to report for the media, I was totally thrilled! A story! A story has just dropped down out of the sky into my lap! This debate could be a crucial rallying point for Hillary or the turning point for Obama's confirmation. And I was going to be there! At the making of history!

Or was I?


I had planned to use frequent-flyer miles to get to Cleveland and, once there, another journalist was going to pick me up and let me stay in his hotel room for free. This trip was affordable. I could do it. But then this morning I got another e-mail from the journalist. "My car just broke down and I'm not going to be able to drive to Ohio in time." There goes that story. I can't afford airfare, a hotel room and a rental car. I can't even afford to pay for dinners at Subway and breakfasts at IHOP.

Lately, all I do is worry about money. What's wrong with me? "Snap out of it, Jane!" It's not as if I'm starving and homeless or anything. It's just that I've become addicted to journalism and journalism costs money and Social Security payments just aren't enough to finance my Jones for covering the next hot story.

What to do? I've got a plan!

I'm gonna rent a motel room here in Berkeley, put on my bunny slippers, bring my own freaking buffet selection of tuna-fish sandwiches and Fritos, get out my laptop and do some top-notch on-the-scene reporting on the Ohio presidential primary debates from my Spin Room right here at the local Motel 6! Problem solved.

Sigh. Who am I kidding. I really would have loved to have gone to that debate. I would have got a really hot story -- and a media press kit and a CNN badge and everything.

PS: Does anybody know anybody in Cleveland who could pick me up at the airport and put me up for two nights? I won't be a bother. Honest.