Local Commentary

Our Man In Arlington

The past week has been great for us political junkies. (This is being written on Tuesday.

A couple of months ago, I would have said that the Virginia Democratic primary would be no more than an afterthought. I thought the Democratic nominee, probably Hillary Clinton, would have been all but selected.

But that didn’t happen, and the race in Virginia notably heated up. In Arlington, interest has been intense; unusual, too, in that the local workers in the Hillary and Obama camps are normally on the same side of the fence, with the exception of some young and fresh Obama fans. So far it has remained very friendly, at least in Arlington.

On Thursday, we went up the street to see Hillary at a rally at Washington-Lee High School. We arrived at one o’clock, and there was already a large crowd snaking around the building. By the time they started letting us in to the old gymnasium, it stretched almost as far as the eye could see.

The gymnasium was packed – both the bleachers and the floor. Probably at least a thousand were high school kids having a ball. They were waving Obama and Hillary signs, chanting their cheers, and creating waves all around the hall. (Yes, even a few Obama signs. I think most of the kids were for Obama, even at a Hillary rally. They were polite about it, though.) The excellent W-L band played numerous pep songs. It was great!

All two and a half hours of it. Hilary didn’t get there until around four. But we weren’t disappointed. She gave a great Hilary-like wonkish speech, and the crowd loved it. We left to the motorcade snaking its way down Washington Boulevard, a dozen motorcycle sirens blaring, and a great white bus following Hilary’s black limoi It was as American as you could get.

Saturday, we drove down to Richmond for the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner, an annual Democratic Party event. Both Hilary and Obama would be there.

When we arrived early at the Stuart C. Siegel on the VCU campus, the hoopla had already started. Hundreds of Obama supporters were marching around the crowd waiting to go through the metal detectors, along with a marching band. Hilary signs were very much in evidence.

When we got in, we spent six hours schmoozing with old friends from around the state, eating one of the worst meals I have ever enjoyed at a political event (which is really saying something), and loving every minute of it. Both candidates, when they finally arrived, were inspirational and exciting. All-in-all it was a quintessentially American event.

This morning (Tuesday) I peered out of my 16th floor window to the entrance of St. George’s Episcopal Church where our precinct votes and watched voters pouring in. I stuck my sign in my office window, and saw that Jean had already posted our flag. I love living in America – and Arlington!

I have no idea who will ultimately win the Democratic nomination. As Arlington’s own David Broder said on Sunday’s Meet the Press, “— this is a year where the scenarios have been invariably wrong. — My guess is that we will be surprised once again.”

 I agree. But I can say unequivocally, it has been fun getting there so far.

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