Big Name Comes, Small Town Fawns

Well, it finally happened. The Democratic primary has grown so rampantly out of control that they've gotten desperate, so desperate that they're even campaigning on the Oregon Coast.

But we haven't reached the level of the actual candidates yet. We're only on "spouse level."

Still, it was pretty exciting to hear that Bill Clinton was coming. Has a president current or ex ever visited the coast before? Not in my lifetime. The closest thing was when JFK campaigned here 40 years ago, a fact a learned from the woman standing in front of me in line as we waited to see Clinton. She had also seen JFK. She had been in high school.

The rally, or whatever you want to call it, was a mellow event. A week of raining had finally given way to mild and breezy spring weather, so we coastal type folks were in a merry mood, chatting to each other as we stood in a line that stretched for blocks. Everyone knew everyone. I had driven down from my hometown, but amazingly even I came across a few people that I knew. After about an hour and a half of waiting, they opened up the doors to the middle school gym, and we packed right on in. Amazingly, there was no security check of any kind. Most folks opted for the bleachers, but I choose the floor, so that when Clinton finally came out (on time!!) I was standing only 20 feet from him.

Bill Clinton is remarkably charismatic in person, very easy and relaxed as he speaks. But our crowd was judicious, and there was definitely rationing of applause for only the agreeable points of his speech. I, for my part, was very clappy about the part where Clinton promised more wilderness area designations for Oregon - we fall far short of the acreage of neighboring states - but this is not a welcomed idea for a community build on timber dollars, and so the rest of the gym stayed awkwardly silent. Other clunkers included his proposition that the future of transportation lies with lithium - I think - battery powered cars, ("They're too expensive!!" shouted one woman behind me) and that the lithium -or whatever it was - lies in great abundance in the ground of South America. (And so we are supposed to go dig up the rainforest? Hello?)

Also lacking was his understanding of our Northwest salmon situation, a problem he summed up in a way that very much implied he had been briefed on the plane ride over. "More salmon for everyone!" he said, or something close to it. His analysis of the issue was based along the premise that there are so many salmon just a'swimming on out there in the Pacific, and it's a fight between Alaskan fisherman and Northwestern fisherman to see who can go haul them in, as in, "stop letting Alaska get all the salmon and give them back to Oregon."

Which might work if salmon were whales, or if salmon were oil reserves, or if salmon were stock options. But salmon are salmon, and with a very few exceptions (i.e. ocean dead zones) if you find your local fishery depleted, you can only point the finger at yourself. So when Clinton started with his garbled notion of problem/solution, I wanted to yell, "Get a job!" Or, no, what would the phrase be? "Get a fisheries education or at least a rudimentary grasp on things that every third grader in Oregon already knows!"

Oh well. I suppose it's too much to ask for our local problems to go on the national scene anyway.

Clinton's best moment of the night was the announcement that Hillary would end No Child Left Behind, a line that filled the gym with wild cheering and applause. He followed this by saying, "That's a sure fire winner. I could be in the middle of Idaho 400 miles from the nearest Democrat and get applause from a herd of elk with that one."

After the speech, he came down into the crowd for hand-shaking and signature-signing, and the gym turned into a gigantic mosh pit. With me in the middle. So I got to know some of my South Coast neighbors a little bit more on that day, and isn't that what democracy is all about? Coming together?

Here is a picture of da man:

And here is proof that I was actually there. Or my eye was there, anyway. You have no idea how awkward it was to turn around to take a picture of myself when everyone behind me was so fixated on that big ol' flag. They thought I was a wee bit odd... because I broke eye contact with Clinton - aaaAAAAA!

And I had a warm and fuzzy video to upload, but since Blogger is being dumb about it, I'll have to try to post it later.

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