Yes, last night, I slept with The Stranger’s Annie Wagner. And so did Darryl.
I’m not sure if Annie slept much, what with us two old men snoring away (especially Darryl), but that’s the price she pays for begging a spot on our floor last night so that she could be up and alert bright and early this morning at the Washington State Clinton delegate caucus here at the hotel.
Annie and I are now at the delegate caucus, witnessing the fireworks first hand. You can tell the Clinton delegates are angry and irreconcilable, threatening to be “respectful” and “pragmatic,” and warning that they might even “play by the rules,” or even worse, “honor the decision of the majority of Democrats.”
Okay, there’s still a bit of grieving going on, with the main topic of conversation surrounding whether to vote for Clinton or Obama on the first ballot, and whether Clinton has actually “released” her delegates, and if so, what exactly that means? Most of the folks here want to cast their vote for Clinton… but there’s also a lot of talk about respecting her wishes, even if that means voting for Obama.
There’s also a little push back to the “disunity” theme that has dominated recent media coverage. As one delegate put it:
“Why is it disunity for us to do our job voting for the candidate we were sent here to vote for?”
I’m not sure it is. This is, after all, the Democratic Party, which as we know implies a degree of creative chaos. It takes a lot of passion and effort to get to a national covention as a delegate (as opposed to getting here as a blogger, which apparently only takes a firm grasp of four-letter words), so you’d expect the Clinton delegates to be passionate supporters of their candidate. But they’re also Democrats, and while I plan to talk with as many delegates one on one as I can, it seems clear that the number one concern of the folks in this room is to get a Democrat into the White House.
So if my colleagues in the press are looking for a good “disunity” story, I don’t think they’ll find one in the WA delegation. No doubt there are some unhappy folks in the room, but there is also a concerted effort to get everybody in line behind “the second best Democrat.”
The conversation has moved on to the illicit topic of “credential swapping,” where Paul Berendt is teaching the newbies the fine art of deceit. As for me, my act of disunity for the day will be to smuggle a piece of fruit into the Pepsi Center, one of the many banned items.
Well, the caucus goes on, and we’re in the middle of a passionate speech by a delegate clearly fearful that there will be a push for a vote by acclamation, and angry at efforts to get him to change his vote. As another delegate just put it, there’s nothing to be gained from “forced unity.” So while I don’t think there is much of a disunity story here, don’t expect anywhere near a unanimous vote from the WA delegation. But I haven’t heard anybody say they’ll be voting for McCain in November. (Well… one delegate said it, but it was a slip, and she quickly corrected herself.)