Early tomorrow morning a small group of us from Warrensburg will pile into two vehicles for the 4 1/2 hour drive to that muddy (probably) balloon field near Indianola, Iowa for the 30th Harkin Steak Fry. This to hear Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson speak.
I wrote about some of my experiences at the event four years ago here.
Our intrepid little band will include Brett Penrose, skippy the bush kangaroo‘s editorial cartoonist. Blogtopia (yes, we’re very much aware that skippy coined the phrase!) will never be the same again. Brett has been making a splash on the Internets of late. He’s even garnered the attention of dead tree media like the Kansas City Star, which has published a couple of his ‘toons – including the infamous one of the Missouri Highway Patrol pulling over Jay Nixon’s campaign bus so that Governor Blunt “could catch up.”
So, I’ll be in good company.
After making arrangements to attend the event I noticed a link at the Harkin web site for “blogger credentials”. I thought to myself, “Hey, we have a perfectly respectable progressive political blog here – I’ll fill out the web form and submit it.” So, I did. After I filled out the form the system came back with a page that told me I’d be contacted by e-mail with further details. A week went by. I navigated to the web site again, filled out the form again, explaining that I did so because I had yet to hear from them, and added more contact information. Five days went by. “Well,” I thought, “we obviously haven’t achieved a level of notice which would get someone to get us ‘blogger credentials’ to an event such as this.” But, I also figured “what the hey” nothing had really changed.
I’d still attend the event and write about it here. Because it’ll be interesting, it’s worth writing about, and it’s a fun time. It better be – I’ve conned a whole bunch of friends into going with me.
A few days ago I was engaging in my several times a day routine of checking my e-mail and clearing out the spam box (I usually don’t look at spam in any detail – I just “delete” with impunity) when, just as I was about to hit “delete” I saw “MEDIA ADVISORY: 30th Harkin…” Holy cow. I got credentialed. Then I thought, “Holy cow, that better not make me one of them.”
Then the realization hit me – our blogs are here able to do what they do because nature abhors a vacuum. Brett Penrose is creating his cartoons because he can, and because nature abhors a vacuum.
I’ve had plenty of experiences at outdoor political events – in bad weather. First thing you do is check the current weather. Then you check the forecast. Maybe showers today – partly cloudy and in the 70’s tomorrow. Maybe. That means wearing comfortable clothes and old tennis shoes (an open field with thousands of people tromping around is going to get muddy). That also means one needs to bring a change of shoes for the long drive home. I’ve got a shoulder bag with room for a jacket, a small umbrella, and my camera. Cell phone. Check (the crowd is going to be very large – it’ll make it easier to round up my traveling companions when it’s time to go home). Palm Pilot. Check. Small notepad. Check. Extra writing utensils. Check. ID. Check. Bottle of water. Check.
The people in the crowd who have scraped together the cash to pay admission to attend these types of events are the most interesting. Sure, the famous politicians make their speeches and we see them in the flesh. But, if they’re good politicians they’ll be staying “on message” and they won’t do anything shocking. It’s the people who are in the crowd listening to that message who fascinate me. I ask people “Where are you from?”, “Why are you here?”, “Who are you supporting?” Sometimes you get a unique life story along with the answers to those questions.
So, in reading the “media advisory” I note that there’s a place for me to check in. There’ll be a place for me to “file” (I ain’t bringing a laptop to an outdoor event) and I’ll get access to the public grounds.
There’ll be thousands of people at the event. The vast majority will be Democratic party activists – supporting one presidential candidate or another. As I wander the grounds will I have to endure cold stares from the masses? “No, no, you don’t understand. I’m not one of them, I’m a blogger…”
It looks like getting credentialed really only means I get free admission to the event and that I can pay $10 for the feed if I want to eat.
The thing is, I already bought my $30 ticket.