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I don't want to step on Mitch Berg's toes here, so I won't deliver a full-out fisking of Nick Coleman's column today. However, Coleman's description of the John Kerry rally yesterday in Minneapolis sounds so odd that it bears a closer look.
Coleman's subject matter for his column is an oddball named "Mr. Fun" who apparently shows up at serious events to provide some comic relief, but his efforts went for naught at the Kerry rally:
I saw him walking past the police department bomb-squad truck outside the Dome, humming "Hail to the Chief." The bomb squad is not usually a spot that makes me laugh, but Mr. Fun was wearing white gloves and glitter on his face and a porkpie hat that said, naturally, "Mr. Fun." He was also wearing a shaggy red-and-black bumblebee shirt, sporting a green cape and carrying a white flag.
I hadn't seen anybody dressed this amusingly since the late Charlie McCarty was mayor of St. Paul.
The security guys wouldn't let Mr. Fun bring in the flag (which symbolized peace and purity) but after they had run him through the metal detector and gone through his fanny pack (which was full of chocolates) they couldn't find a reason to keep him out.
Okay, I can't help myself on this point. The white flag symbolizes "peace and purity"? No wonder the Democrats are so confused on national security! To most of us, Nick, it symbolizes "surrender." In fact, I have trouble understanding why the security guards would question Mr. Fun's brandishing of the flag, as it perfectly matches the rhetoric coming from the Kerry campaign, but perhaps they didn't want the visual association to be so clear.
As it turns out, though, the campaign needn't worry, as most of the crowd couldn't be bothered to stick out the rally to the end, even though John Kerry himself was on hand:
John Kerry came to Minneapolis and dropped in on the backside parking lot of the Metrodome and droned on for half an hour to a crowd of supporters who had been waiting for two hours in the cold before he was introduced by Walter Mondale and delivered his canned stump speech.
Thursday night's rally produced a nice campaign turnout, but it also was proof we have reached campaign burnout: Thousands of Kerry supporters left before their man finished talking, scramming like Twins fans in the sixth inning of a blowout, going home glad to have seen their champion but feeling no need for another inning of stale lines about how Bush should've killed Osama in Tora Bora.
Hey, LA fans leave in the sixth inning of tie games, so I think Coleman needs to give Twins fans a break. And that's exactly what happened yesterday at the Dome: Kerry fans left in a tie game. When I went to the George Bush rally in St. Paul two months ago, everyone was pumped up for the President's appearance; no one left early, and when he came to the stage, the crowd drowned him out for two or three minutes at the start of his speech. The Xcel Energy Center burst with enthusiasm, and even after he left, people continued milling about for a while, talking about the great crowd and the series of inspiring speeches given.
It says volumes about Kerry and his campaign that people who took the time and trouble to come down to the Metrodome -- no easy drive, and even tougher parking -- could not sit through the speech by their candidate. This is the man they want to be the next president of the United States, and they've already become bored and/or fatigued by his droning and redundant rants. Coleman stopped a young Bush-hater with an obscene T-shirt, the kind of voter from whom you'd expect a high level of enthusiasm, to ask why she bailed out early:
As the crowd streamed toward an early exit, I stopped 22-year-old Amber Martin, a barrista, from Fridley, who was wearing a funny T-shirt about Bush that I cannot repeat here.
"I wanted to see Kerry," she said, "but I already know everything he'll say. "Besides, I have a date."
She had a hot date on a Thursday night? Sure. It certainly wasn't Kerry. The enthusiasm has gone out of Minnesota's Kerry support like a slow leak from a balloon, and now that support looks like a chore rather than desire. It's a harbinger of November 2nd. When Democrats have better things to do than to stay through an appearance of their presidential candidate in the heart of Minneapolis, you can bet your last dollar enough of them will have better things to do on Election Day than vote for him. Minneapolis will go GOP for the first time in 32 years, thanks to a relentlessly uninspiring candidate.
Or, as Nick Coleman might put it: Senator, I know Mr. Fun, I've met with Mr. Fun, and I've worked with Mr. Fun -- and you, sir, are no Mr. Fun.
UPDATE: Oliver Willis thinks that I've crashed head-on into the spin, and links back to this Star Tribune report on the rousing success of the rally. I'll give Oliver a break, as he may not be aware of Nick Coleman's track record. However, for his edification and yours, Coleman is no GOP spinmeister; Coleman is a bitter partisan hack whose only complaint about the Democrats is that they're not leftist enough.
When a columnist like Nick Coleman tells you that "thousands" of people are heading for the exits at a John Kerry rally before the candidate is done speaking, that's not spin. Spin is what Bob Van Sternburg and Terry Collins provided when they described the event as a rousing success despite the large number of walkouts, something they should have known if they bothered to check with their senior colleague before filing their report.
I've attended these rallies, and it's not just like going to a ball game. You have to go through a complicated and lengthy security check, you have to wait in line for hours to get in, and once inside, you have to wait a couple of hours before you get to the main event. To go through all of that just to walk out when the candidate is still speaking demonstrates a lack of enthusiasm from which Oliver wants to avert his eyes. When thousands of people decide to do that, it's serious trouble.Sphere It View blog reactions
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