What an experience.

We left for Unity, New Hampshire (1507 pop.) about 10:15 Thursday morning. We arrived in New Hampshire four hours later. We knew we needed tickets which we didn’t have. So first off, we checked into the two locations where cars were to be dropped off before taking a bus to Unity.

There were no tickets at either site. Then we checked in to a Best Western and asked the effervescent young woman on registration if she would try to get us tickets on the Internet. She would. Sadly,the answer was all the tickets for the buses were gone.

With hearts sinking we drove a few miles to Unity and stopped at the school where the outdoor event was to be held on Friday. Jim stayed in the care, I went inside the school. Finally, I got to speak to a young Obama supporter named Duncan. I t old him our story. Duncan was impressed we had bothered to drive so far. Then he gift wrapped a huge Christmas present six months early. He would put Jim and me on the list for VIP parking. I couldn’t believe it. In one stroke we finessed tickets, buses, the whole ball of wax.

Friday was a lovely, hot, sunny day. We arrived in the meadow behind the school about ten-thirty, early enough to get a seat. People continued to pour in for the next two hours. Local politicians brayed away. The most interesting was the popular former governor, Jeanne Shaheen, now running on the Democratic ticket against the incumbent Republican, John Sununu. I expect she will win.

The smiling crowds pouring in were happy, the air electric with anticipation. Only one incident marred the pleasant scene. A few yards down the fence from us there was some kind of scuffle. A state trooper ushered a fiftyish man wearing a T-shirt of the National Rifle Association off the site. I had no trouble with the T-shirt but the man’s face, scowling and suffused with anger, resembled nothing so much as a cracked sidewalk. The incident left an aroma of apprehension.

Promptly at 1:15 the music stopped, the cheers swelled and Hillary (in a robin-egg blue pantsuit) and Obama (in a white shirt, blue tie and no jacket) walked onto the stage.

Obama made it clear he needed Hillary (and Bill too); Hillary made it clear she was on board for the duration. The crowd roared their approval. It felt like a tide of change was flowing, that something historic had occurred. It felt good to be there.

Oh yes, as a parting gift, I got to shake the hand of the next President of the United States.



  1. 1
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil, as you shook his hand, did he throw you under the bus along with all the rest of his supporters on the left that he has been doing that to?

    « Responsible, GRADUAL, withdrawal from Iraq » (my emphasis)

    This is an exact quote from Barack Obama from yesterday’s appearance
    that you attended…did you catch those choice words? They were in reference to what he will do about bringing the troops home and the war to a conclusion once he is president.

    Does anyone out there in Obama-Land realize that his position on Iraq
    has now officially morphed pretty much into what John McCain’s
    position is?

    Now that Barack has secured the nomination with the help of the far
    left, he no longer needs to pander to them.

    Hmmm. Let’s see how things have changed in Obama-Land:

    There’s the FISA turnaround on the issue of telecoms, which he is now

    There’s the death penalty which he supports for certain cases (unlike
    the conservative majority of the Supreme Court who just rejected it for child rape).

    He’s now for funding his campaign without federal funding; another flip-flop.

    He’s — suprise! — for gun-ownership, just like that nutcase with the t-shirt you saw at the rally and, of course, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

    As Canadians we all must be happy that he has flip-flopped on the hard, nasty stance he took on NAFTA (wink, wink, nudge, nudge…we all knew he never meant it when he said it back in Ohio to all those out-of-work steel workers).

    Of course, he tripped over himself while he appeared before AIPAC trying to outpander Hillary Clinton in his show of support for Israel.

    And, of course, he hides any Moslems away from the camera.

    So, as of yesterday, your choice for next president of the United States, Neil, IS FOR A GRADUAL WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ, JUST LIKE JOHN McCAIN.

    And Obama didn’t even have the decency to wait until AFTER the
    convention to say « F*** YOU » to the left. Seems like he has thrown
    you guys on the left under the bus along with Rev. Wright, his
    grandmother, Scarlett Johannsen, and every polilcy that you hold dear.

  2. 2
    Ted Says:

    Now that we’re beyond Hillary, we can look forward to the first female VP, Sarah Palin, to become the first female President of the United States in 4 years!

  3. 3
    Barbara Says:

    Tony, what have you been smokin’?
    Yes, Obama is capable of modifying his position as situations shift under him. Would you rather a stubborn, unreflective Bush? Obama is a cunning politician, but he has more integrity than most. His flipflops are gentler than those of McCain, if you want to call them flipflops and adopt the Rove rhetoric.
    He never advocated a sudden, total withdrawal from Iraq. He would begin the withdrawal sooner than McCain, I would hope, and would make it total in time, unlike McCain.
    It was his wish that private ownership of guns not be allowed and he believed it to be consonant with the second amendment. Legal scholars can disagree. It was not a unanimous decision on the part of the Supreme Court, another 5 to 4 decision. Once that issue is clarified, it will stand and Obama accepted that fact, given the argument presented.
    As for capital punishment, he indicated it might be considered in cases as heinous as the rape AND murder of a child. The decision before the Supreme Court dealt with rape alone. Rape on its own, is not a capital offense. Obama and I disagree, I guess, on the issue of capital punishment, but NO president can single-handedly abolish capital punishment.
    I am glad he is using the contributions from millions of people given through his website rather than be beholden to special interests. If so many individuals are willing to make small contributions to help him, he’d be a fool not to take them. He’s no fool. He’s a Chicago-bred politician.
    Obama will inevitably disappoint. All politicians do. Decisions on that level are not easy to make.
    And Neil, I am proud that the young Obama supporter was so gracious. I wondered how you would get in. Tell us, what was that handshake like?

  4. 4
    Barbara Says:

    Ted, we are not beyond Hillary yet. Who is Sarah Palin?

  5. 5
    Ted Says:

    Barbara, if you truly don’t know who Sarah Palin is, or how to find out in two seconds by googling her, boy are you going to be in for a rude awakening!

  6. 6


    Sarah Palin is a new one on me. I now know she is the comely Republican governor of Alaska who has been talked about as a vp for McCain.

    Obama’s handshake is firm; his hand is rough.

  7. 7


    All politicians who are serious about the presidency move to what Bill Clinton called « the vital centre. » George W. Bush did it in 2000. McCain has shifted several of his positions in the Republican primary, taking conservative lines on taxes and immigration. FDR did it too.

    In the last week, Senator Obama has taken calibrated positions on issues that include electronic surveillance, campaign finance reform and the death penalty for child rapists.

    « A presidential candidate’s great desire is to be seen as pragmatic, and they hope their maneuvering and shifting will be seen in pursuit of some higher purpose, » said Robert Dallek, the presidential historian. « It doesn’t mean they are insincere. »

    During his 2004 Senate campaign, he publicly supported the death penalty, even as he called the justice system flawed and urged a moratorium on executions. Like Barbara, I disagree with Obama on the death penalty.

    Obama is an introspective candidate, and perhaps the best analyst of his own political style. « I serve as a blank screen,: he wrote in The Audacity of Hope, » »on which people of vastly different stripes project their own views. »

    Far from being thrown under the bus, Tony, I’m right up there with the driver and the next president of the United States.

  8. 8
    Chimera Says:

    « Obama’s handshake is firm; his hand is rough. »

    Both good signs. And I see where everyone is assuming that « the next president of the United States » is Obama. Even the right-wingers. Also a good sign.

    I don’t have any particular problems with gun ownership. Abuse it and lose it, is all. I also don’t have any problems with a death penalty for crimes like torture-and-murder, and the killing of on-duty emergency officials.

    Now, If I could find a way to convince Obama to get rid of NAFTA altogether, I’d be happy.

    And…oh, yeah…why would anyone want a sudden and disorganized withdrawal from Iraq? Wanna give them whiplash? Get the troops home, yes, but do it carefully and close all the doors after them. Leave nothing behind, including the chance that they’ll have to return.

  9. 9
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Barbara and Neil may be happy with Obama’s flip-flopping but the people who put him where he is are not.

    Obama’s run to the center has not sat well with them.

    Myself? I am amused more than anything. Obama isn’t the « new page » in American politics…he is politics as usual. If he wants to govern from the center like Bill Clinton did — Clinton had a much more conservative administration that the current Bush oversaw — that’s fine with me.

    It’s like the institution of the monarchy. If it makes you feel good waving the flag as the Queen in her finery parades down the boulevard, what harm is there? Having Barack in the White House as a « blank slate » doing the bidding of the largely conservative people of the United States makes you feel all warm and fuzzy? It’s fine with me.

  10. 10
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    I kind of like Obama, warts and all. I have a natural apprehension about people who have very set minds and keep going straight as an arrow even if there is a bend in the road. Like Bush did, they drive the bus and the passengers right into the ditch.
    Obama may not be the best for Canada, but then under current conditions south of the border no politician can afford not to show some degree of isolationism and protectionism.
    Meanwhile some conservative think tank in Ottawa promotes wide open season on our economy. Let protectionist Americans buy our firms, close them and then sell us what we used to produce. Down with NAFTA? Not sure its wise at this point in time.

  11. 11
    Chris Says:

    Barack Obama’s recent political shift is certainly an interesting development, especially his support for the FISA bill that will essentially give retroactive immunity to the telecom companies for spying on Americans in violation of the Constitution. I worry that Obama’s supporters are setting themselves up for disappointment in that he will not deliver the « change » in which many believe he will.

    Obama has not stated that he will withdrawl all troops from Iraq, Obama has reversed himself on the FISA bill, and I would still like to hear his view on the presence of privite contracting firms and their expanding reach within the United States and abroad.

    I would argue that with all of this talk about a « move to the center » we are missing the very question of what the « center » has become. If voting for a bill to give telecom companies retroactive immunity for breaking the law is the so-called « center » then I think it is clear that the « center » has shifted to the right. If we are to reverse the awful direction that we have come in the last eight years, then perhaps we need real change and not a gradual shift to the « center » which will end up resulting in more of the status quo.

  12. 12


    Thank you for your thoughtful and informed comment. I fear the centre has moved to the right. This means Obama will need to chop and jib a little. I am not nonplused with that. The first law of a successfull politician is not to keep his powder dry but to get elected. Obama will do what is needed. That’s the only way to launch a serious agenda for change.

  13. 13
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil writes:  » The first law of a successfull politician is…to get elected. »

    I would agree that this is the first law for politicians who are opportunists.

    How about this: the first law of a politician should be to represent a certain viewpoint — consistently — and then either get elected or not get elected on that basis? If you get elected, great! You have a clear and firm mandate to do what you said. And if you don’t get elected, that’s good too, because who would want to be elected on a platform one doesn’t believe in and then be expected to promote such an agenda?

    Other good things can come out of not being elected when one represents a consistent and honest viewpoint.

    Barry Goldwater ran against LBJ on a clear, unambiguous, conservative message…and lost in a landslide. Yet political pundits point to the Goldwater candidacy as solidifying the conservative base and then paving the road for the successful conservative revolution which followed, one that resulted, in the following 40 years after the end of the victor LBJ’s term in 1968, of only 12 years governed by a Democratic president and 28 years by Republicans. Capped, of course, by the 8 years of the messiah of conservatives, Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980.

    I have always felt that if the PQ had asked clear unambiguous questions in either the 1980 and 1995 referendums — instead of the muddled sovereignty-association and sovereignty-partnership questions they did — that even though they may have lost by a wide margin, a clear, simple question would have solidified a strong base and paved the way for a « yes » victory the next time. A question like: « Do you want Quebec to separate from Canada and become a completely independent country, yes or no » is truthful, doesn’t leave any doubt in its wake, and paves a strong foundation for future support.

    At this point, who the hell knows WHAT Barack Obama stands for other than the completely malliable and ambiguous « change »? As Chris points out, this is bound to disappoint…and alienate. And when those that you are alienating are the poor, disenfranchised, and the marginal of society — as is the case with Barack — then this can be a recipe for disaster.

  14. 14
    Barbara Says:

    What I have long believed is that the folks in the USA want someone who transcends party allegiances. That is one reason, perhaps, why Obama overcame the Clinton juggernaut. There is a lot of rhetoric about the blue and the red states, but there are mostly purple people out there who would vote for the person they deemed the best leader regardless of his or her affiliation. To win and to have a chance to change things, you have to appeal to that mass of people. Obama has gone a long way to neutralize the term « liberal » that so frightens many citizens of the USA. There is a significant number of conservatives, the so-called Obamacons, who support Obama, not because they accept each and every one of his positions, but because they can no longer support the travesty of conservativism represented by the Bush regime.
    I don’t think idealogue politicians get very far in the USA. Maybe it has something to do with the structure of their government. Pragmatism IS a strong theme in American culture. Idealogues are seen as after their page in the history books and not the issues that matter to the people.

    And sorry, Ted, that I did not google Gov. Palin’s name then and there. It was late when I wrote that comment. There is a looooong list of potential vp candidates and I did not hear her name come up very often. I feel it is a bit early to get exercised about this issue. Many candidates will be vetted and, I hope, the Obama team will come up with the suitable partner.

  15. 15

    I read an interesting interview with John Sununu in a magazine (I think it was The American Scholar) recently. His theories and philosophical acumen regarding politics and history thoroughly impressed me. I mean it was profound stuff.

  16. 16
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    For Barbara: The following is a sampling of what everyone on the left is discussing vis a vis Barack’s abandonment of his core constituency:

  17. 17

    Barry Goldwater. Oh dear. « In your guts you know he’s nuts. »

    Frankly I don’t think specific issues mean all that much in an election. The last time in Canada we had a defining issue in an election was the free trade election in 1988.

    Most elections are won or lost by masses of voters coming to a favourable or unfavourable attitude to a candidate or leader. They do this through a cluster of impressions.

    In that sense the image is very important. So as we speak the image emerging around Obama is of a young, charismatic leader who has a firm grasp of the nuances surrounding issues and the intellectual heft to see the big picture. Add on that he is a splendid speaker who can move crowds and appeal to independents.

    And when you compare him to the opposition there is no contest.

    I myself am just constructing my own image of Obama. Recently, someone sent me Obama’s thinking on the relationship between religious belief and public policy. I tell you I was simply blown away by the depth of Obama’s understanding and the clarity of his thinking.
    Blown away. I swear Obama is familiar with the writings of the great Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor. I doubt McCain knows he exists.

    Obama is the most exciting and promising candidate in my lifetime (with the possible exception of John Kennedy.)

  18. 18
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil: it’s funny that you mention Goldwater so derisively in the same post as you do Kennedy, whom you praise.

    Kennedy and Goldwater were close, good friends. Before the asassination, both had talked about the upcoming presidential campaign, knowing that they were going to be the presumptive candidates for their respective parties. They had actually planned to travel together on the campaign trail and have a series of debates across America based upon civility and their friendship. It was to be an unprecedented type of campaign in which the issues — and only the issues — were to be centerstage.

    When Bill and Hillary were campaigning for president in ’96, not once but twice they visited Barry Goldwater in the hospital (he died soon after). Hillary had been a Goldwater Girl in ’64 and had been close to him ever since. Bill loved him…and he loved many of his stances, such as support for pro-choice and gays in the military.

    It is sad that you still hold on to the guts-nuts image of Goldwater…probably due to the one-time airing of the TV commercial of the little girl standing in front of the footage of the nuclear bomb and the unwarranted propaganda perpetrated by the dirty-tricks Democrats in charge of LBJ’s campaign. Virtually everyone with any knowledge of history accepts this as not only the lowest, dirtiest political cheap shot in history because it so very much misrepresented what Goldwater stood for but that it was one of the main reasons why he lost the election. And to make it worse? LBJ, who oversaw 10s of thousands of deaths in Vietnam, was his victor.

    Goldwater is looked upon fondly not only by the « right » but by the left as well. No one holds on to those silly propaganda-created images of Goldwater any more, Neil.

  19. 19
    Barbara Says:

    Just to clarify things and to demonstrate that I can Google her name, I would like to add that Gov. Sarah Palin is being sought for the REPUBLICAN vice presidential spot. Clinton supporters who would vote a Republican ticket with Palin in the vp spot did not really support the issues for which Clinton so tirelessly worked.

  20. 20
    Barbara Says:

    maybe being ‘sought’ is not the correct term, she is being talked about at least.

  21. 21

    Goldwater is a fascinating figure in political American history.

    I tend to agree popular history does look favourably on Kennedy a little too much. It was Kennedy who went into Vietnam. For all intents and purposes it was a Democrats were yet…yet it’s only associated with Republicanism and Nixon. Kennedy spoke much about family and Catholicism…when do we gag? Yet, he got a free pass.

    For me, Sununu in one article blew Obama to smithereens when it comes to intellectualism. Not even a close contest.

  22. 22


    There’s scarcely a word in your last comment re Goldwater that I would disagree with.
    Indeed he andKennedy discussed the campaign.
    Goldwater was a most engaging personality.
    Whether he would have made a good president is quite another matter. Kennedy would have easily defeated him in 1964.

  23. 23
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Yes, Neil, at the end of the day, you’re probably right…Goldwater would have lost in the same degree of landslide against Kennedy as he did against LBJ.

    Commentator: you have us intrigued…can you post the link to the Sununu article here? I’ve noticed as of late that Neil’s blog is behaving and allowing us to post URLs.

  24. 24

    I’m sorry. Don’t know how to link it. Copy/paste it in your browser.

    I found this interesting – anyway. Hope you enjoy it as I did.

  25. 25

    Oh, it worked.

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