A Fake Consultant Field Trip: John Edwards Visits The Fighting Trojans

It was a cool spring afternoon, the sun peeking out from behind occasionally gray and ominous patches of clouds.

The kind of spring day that carries the hope of renewal-the time of the season when it seems every team has a shot at the pennant.

The wind was blowing from right to left-the kind of wind that favors the batter.
You just knew the ball would be flyin’ out of the old yard today.

The old yard-Everett Memorial Stadium-is the home of one of the best logos in baseball: the home of the Aquasox. (Go Frogs!)

As far as I know, this is the only professional baseball team to ever take the field in tie-dye, and the “Frogstock” uniforms are a look that’s ready for “the show”.

But that doesn’t matter today.

Today we’re headed across town, to Everett Community College, the home of the Trojans, because John Edwards is expected in an hour or so.

Everett, Washington, is a former timber “hub” located more or less 30 miles up I-5 from Seattle, where logs floated downriver from the Cascade Mountains to be processed in the timber and pulp mills. As the forested land decreased, so has the processing activity downstream, and the formerly prosperous town has had to work to gain back that lost income.

Naval Station Everett, opened in 1994, supports an aircraft carrier and several other ships.

This is the city where the railroad serving the Pacific Coast makes a right turn to Chicago, but that’s hardly Everett’s biggest impact on world transportation.

That would be the Boeing assembly facility next to Paine Field, where 747, 767, and 777 subassemblies are merged into finished aircraft on production lines in the world’s largest building.

This is a blue collar town, big time.

And apparently, a town that was ready to meet John Edwards.

With an hour to go before the event, the line was already longer than the 300-seat capacity of the room. At a minimum, this would be a standing-room only crowd.

The room filled quickly, first the seats, then the standing room, then the space out behind the open door at the back of the room; and more folks showing up all the time. By my estimate between 550 and 600 turned out, for a Tuesday 2PM event.

In a move reminiscent of the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Edwards’ staffers were forced to open a Riff-Raff Room for the spillover crowd.

I expected to see an early 20’s college-age crowd, but that was not what I saw-instead, staffers were observed bringing in younger faces to seat early.

The average age of the crowd was probably closer to mid-to-late thirties, with substantial numbers of audience members who appeared to be in their 60’s or older. Much of that group (perhaps 30), were in nursing uniforms, and medical programs are offered at the school.

Edwards was late, having just attended a union town hall meeting, but it was accepted with good humor by the crowd, and the Mayor of Everett, Ray Stephanson; who had to endure a collective groan from the crowd as he was introduced as the third introducer of Edwards.

But now we introduce…

John Edwards.

Quickly: selected high points from the speech…

--The crowd strongly agreed with his exhortation that the Iraq spending bill be returned, with timelines, again and again, until it is signed. (As I’m writing a rumor is being offered that “timelines” will be replaced by “guidelines” in order to craft a deal, but I cannot verify this.)

--He suggested supporters and opponents alike consider joining One Corps-not necessarily to do politics, but if they wanted, to do politically agnostic “service” work for the common good.

--Edwards proposed the US spend $3-4 billion annually to educate citizens in other countries, as a form of foreign aid that would create affinity between those students and the US. In the Middle East, these schools would present an alternative to the madrassa system, he explained, and would help enhance US security long-term.

--He discussed the economic advantages of developing alternative fuel technologies here in the US, suggesting 1-2 million “green jobs” could be created.

--As he has often, he reminded the crowd: “You must be patriotic about something other than war”.

--“Distributed generation” and the idea of providing incentives to utility companies to compensate for lost sales caused by improved conservation efforts-wait a minute…what was that?

Yes, I said that correctly-Edwards wants to compensate the utilities for lost sales caused by conservation. Why? Otherwise there is no incentive for a utility to sell less electricity-no benefit to the producer for a change in the structure of the market, and the producer is less likely to cooperate. The crowd seemed to be in agreement.

Why conservation? We use 22 million barrels of oil a day, he reports; 12 million of that is imported.

--He again proposed a goal of 25% of electrical generation be supplied by alternative fuels, and a goal of 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.

--He discussed the “dysfunctional” nature of our health system, another topic that was well received by the crowd.

--A very popular proposal was his “college for everyone” national service initiative. It’s easy to explain: volunteer ten hours a week, and your tuition and books are paid for. It was not just students applauding this proposal, I might add.

I’m not going to walk through all the questions, but I’ll tell you the best, most honest answer I heard all day. When asked about RFID chips and their effect on privacy, Edwards, in an especially bold move, looked the questioner dead in the eye, and answered: “I don’t know.”

The questions answered, he did the crowd, and seemed (forgive me Hillary) to have a “Bill Clinton” crowd presence-the “acknowledge you to the exclusion of all others” kind of perceived genuine interest that seemed to serve him well in this crowd today.

Afterwards, Edwards came out back for a quick media huddle, and then once more he was off to shake hands-this time with the supporters who had been in the Riff-Raff room.

Then into the van, and off to another night on the rubber chicken circuit-the Law Day dinner being the fundraising stop for the evening.

So there you have it: the visiting player comes to town, makes a few pitches, fields a few questions-and looked like he might have knocked one out of the park.

Not a bad day at the old ballyard, if you ask me.

Comments

to his credit...

...he took a long time to actually talk to the crowd, and this will become a real problem as events get bigger.

but it was very cool to see old-school retail politics, tip o'neill style, and i'll forgive him in this case...

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Great piece

enjoyed reading it.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

who doesn't want...

...to try sportswriting on for size, just once?

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

OK...so I did follow the links

and I love the uniforms the Frogs wear. I guess you tried your hand at fashion writing too. :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

why those shirts aren't...

...being sold on the website is beyond me...

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Wherever he goes it seems there is always a packed house

but the MSM still tells us he is not a front-runner. They still push Clinton and Obama, my guess is because those two would be easier to beat.

Good post FC, I always enjoy reading you.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

the political cynic in me...

might ask: is this because of the overwhelming support, or are the advance reps ensuring that rooms are "just small enough"?

such is politics...

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

It doesn't matter....

Even if it is good advace work, that image on TV and the Youtube video etc. will show an overflowing crowd, creating the concept in people's minds that it is ok to support Edwards because lots of other people are too.

One way or the other, it shows the staff is good and one game.

cm

--
The Great appear great because we are on our knees – Let Us Rise!
-- “Big Jim” Larkin

The Great appear great because we are on our knees – Let Us Rise!
-- “Big Jim” Larkin

Ditto (or is that to Rushie?)

Us Dub, Dub people gots to stick together!

CM

--
The Great appear great because we are on our knees – Let Us Rise!
-- “Big Jim” Larkin

The Great appear great because we are on our knees – Let Us Rise!
-- “Big Jim” Larkin

if the rooms are too small for effect...

...that's a good staff.

if the rooms are too small, but not intentionally, that's a different story.

if the rooms are too small because support is growing faster than anticipated, that's an even different story.

two of those scenarios suggest a good staff; one, maybe not so much...

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

either this event

of a similar one was talked about on the front page of kos today.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Liddy 44 Brad 33

"Keep the Faith"

there were two...

...town hall meetings yesterday...a "union" meeting, and another "public invited" event, and i don't know which was referenced at kos.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965