Gloria Allred couldn’t keep the tape over her mouth for very long.
She’d billed it as a silent protest, but by the time I arrived in the room after the California Delegation Breakfast was over, it was anything but. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was the feminist attorney (who had once represented Paula Jones in her suit against Bill Clinton) wanted. Her voice hadn’t been heard — that much I understood. (There’s a first time for everything, I suppose). And she plans at the end of the convention to support Obama — that was clear, too. But what she meant by her vigil, and what exactly she was trying to accomplish, I couldn’t quite figure out. She told the small group of people (and, inevitably, reporters) huddled around her that Hillary could “release me until she’s blue in the face, with all due respect, but I still have to vote for her on the first ballot.”
Allred, of course, got plenty of attention. Far more than the vast majority of Hillary supporters who gamely cheered whenever their second choice’s name was mentioned. Contrast Allred to the three Latina activists — Hillary delegates from Texas — who were adamant that, with a little help from the party, they could turn their red state purple. What they want — what they think might bring it home — is a tour through the state by Hillary and Bill, campaigning together for Barack.
Or contrast Allred to the lovely gentleman sitting next to me at the convention this evening. A staunch Hillary supporter who nonetheless waved his Obama sign in the air as wildly as I waved a Hillary sign when she took the podium.
A word about those signs. Each delegation has at least one whip (at least that’s what people who seem to know what they are talking about call John, from San Diego, in his shiny yellow vest), a fellow delegate assigned to manage the rest of us. His primary role seems to be distributing cardboard signs.
By and large things go smoothly, but there was one almost poignant moment. John’s folks came through with bags of tall cardboard standards, one side of which read “Unity” and the other side of which read either “Hillary” or “Obama,” precipitating for a few folks an existential crisis. While many Hillary people happily waved the Obama standards they ended up with, others really, really wanted to swap, and there was a certain amount of uncomfortable passing of the long, narrow signs.
And who can blame them? If the positions were reversed and it was their candidate whom I was supposed to cheer on to victory, I would have felt the same sense of loss. My cheers would ring a little hollow in my own ears. I’d vote for her, I’d support her, I’d even donate money to her, but would I travel halfway across the country, leaving my 13-year-old daughter to make her way to her first day of eighth grade in the company of a babysitter instead of her mother? Maybe, who can say. But if I did, I’d be wearing my Obama gear and straining to reach for a standard printed with his name.