Headed for the bar.
At the bar, Ruthy Palmer, who lives on Greenville, was ordering a Shiner on draft and I joined her. She wore two rhinestone elephant pins and was fussing with her wallet. The story she tells contains a none-too sub rosa meme that’s circulating among the Republicans everywhere.
“I wasn’t real excited about McCain. I wasn’t planning to come out. And I thought two days ago that little girl from Alaska was going to end up resigning from the ticket. Then I heard her (Wednesday). Woo-boy,” she said.
She also insisted on paying for her beer with plastic to save her cash since some cab drivers could be nasty if you didn’t have cash, “especially if they’re foreigners.”
On that John Rockeresque note, I headed back to suffer O’Reilly.
The Alaska governor was the star of conversations I eavesdropped on. She’s what had everyone most fired up after her grand slam speech and after the ugly Democrat attacks on the woman. (Mirand Zapeda put on her Palin glasses for a picture. Naughty librarian hawwt may be the next big thing.)
As I predicted last week Obama’s lackluster acceptance speech in Denver didn’t produce much bounce and what little good it did receded fast.
Polls have McCain and Obama tied even, and Palin is viewed more popularly than Obama or McCain, according to Rasmussen this morning.
Atticus Hornsby is working to try to get Bill Keffer his seat back. Keffer got kicked out of his 107th district seat in 2006 by Allen Vaught (ably profiled by Zac back in December)when the Democrats swept the county and after Keffer got targeted by the anti-school choice lobby.
Hornsby, who was in boot camp on Sept. 11, 2001, and who was in Operation Iraqi Freedom II, had just gotten back from St. Paul where he attended the “Rally for the Republic,” which was best described by fark.com as the “biggest gathering of nerds, geeks, and dorks since the 1994 Buck RogersCon when Erin Gray made an appearance.” (I can say that, since I’m one of the Paultard myself.)
Hornsby does not like McCain much. He’s just here to back Keffer. He sees McCain as essentially two peas in a pod.
“My man is Bob Barr.”
(Me, too, but why does our candidate have to look like a fussy French maÃ®tre d’?)
Jonathan Neerman, head of the Dallas County Republicans, is pretty much indefatigable. Though he does seem to be powered by Diet Pepsi. Too early to tell how the Republicans will do in Dallas this time around, but as long as he’s at the helm Dallas Democrats better be careful. Neerman is witty, urban, self-deprecating, and charming, and — obviously — he’s good at charming the media. (It’s not a man-crush, but it may be a man-gentle squeeze.)
“The Democrats didn’t beat us in 2006. We beat ourselves,” he says.
Last week’s party, the Dallas County Democrats charged for food. For the GOP shindog, it was cash bar but the wings, chips and salsa, and pizza were free.
Democrats never seem to want to feed the hungry when it’s out of their own pockets, it seems.
(Note to Studio Movie Grill: You’re locally headquartered. Is that the best you can do for salsa and hot wings? Shame on you.)
Before the speeches on the big screen began (and they watched it on KERA, which tickled Bill Zeeble, who was sitting next to me) Keffer implored the 300 gathered faithful to get everyone voting.
“We have to act like this is the Republican Party of Dallas County in 1960, and fight for every scrap we can get,” he said.
Then he trotted out the old saw both parties rely on every four years — this is the most important election in history, this will determine the future of the Supreme Court for generations, blah blah blah.
He did bring up the specter of Democrats retaking Austin, and what it would mean with the 2010 census and consequent redistricting, which could cut the low hangers off the Texas GOP for at least a decade.
Zeeble, who’s an experienced political reporter, and I discussed the polls that show McCain and Obama neck-and-neck at 42 percent.
I asked him why — given a troubled economy, an unpopular war, a very unpopular Republican president — why is it tied? Shouldn’t this be a cake walk for the Democrats?
He said that was a good question, and I was immensely pleased with myself. Not easy to hold your own with the smart KERA types.
Republican State Rep. Tony Goolsby of the 102nd told everyone, “If there’s a Republican on the ballot (all the way down the ballot) you have to assume he or she is the best choice and vote for them,” he said.
Which, considering he was talking to the party faithful, seemed redundant.
And then U.S. Sen. John Cornyn showed up in a surprise.
Which is weird, because shouldn’t he be in St. Paul like every other important Republican?
He says he was back in Texas owing to concern over Gustav, which just doesn’t ring true. So was Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, but that was two days ago, and Gustav is old news.
So it means one of two things:
1) Republicans are seriously worried and really trying to fire up their base to avoid more losses in Dallas County.
2) Republicans think Dallas County Democrats are vulnerable, and they’re trying to fire up their base to start retaking it.
The Republican base’s uneasy acceptance of John McCain was evident in something Cornyn said, though he phrased well.
“Do I agree with John McCain 100 percent of the time? Heck, my wife doesn’t agree with me 100 percent of the time. And since she’s not here right now, I’ll even tell you I don’t agree with her 100 percent of the time,” he said.
Despite the ubiquitous professionally made McCain, Palin, McCain/Palin, Sessions, and other GOP candidate signs, some brought handmade ones. Something seems wrong about a cheap sign that reads “Park Cities for Palin” that looks like it was made with kindergarten supplies and by kindergarteners. But then on the floor in St. Paul you saw the same thing — a few hand-mades in the sea of uniformly perfect signs — so it clicks that there’s a professionally managed and artificial attempt at authenticity going on somewhere.
Four people walked in dressed in robes, headdresses, and carrying shepherd’s crooks.
“We’re pilgrims on our way to the promised land of universal health care, 20-hour work weeks, and hope,” said James Carter.
When McCain took the stage, it was my cue to head back to the bar. I wanted to hear the speech without live applause, and these folks were Rose Bowl level excited.
Tony Goolsby was at the bar talking to someone named Joey beneath the two flat screens showing NBC’s coverage in St. Paul. They didn’t shut up for the first 10 minutes of McCain’s speech.
The whole McCain side seems animated now. But then again, these are the party faithful, along with some conservatives coming back into the fold.
Will their bounce fade as quickly as Obama’s did?
Despite the theater hosting the Republicans, other screens were playing the horrible September releases like Babylon AD. Some folks at the bar were moviegoers, not Republicans.
There was a black couple to my left. He was doing the whole smooth, Billy Dee Williams patter on her, sipping some concoction with Hennessey in it, but she wasn’t paying much attention. She asked the bartender to turn up the volume and to put on the closed captioning so she could hear what McCain was saying. McCain was at the part where he was talking about, yep, Palin again, when the camera panned over to her again.
“Yeah,” said the woman at the bar, “I like her.”
Tell me we don’t have a real contest now.