Fortunately, candidates for local races spoke first so I didn't miss the McCain plane landing and the speeches of Sarah and John.
Sarah was confident, warm, fresh. She caught my attention in particular when she talked about our city's flood victims and acknowledged the need to expedite and coordinate help for them--this personalized her presentation. And yes, I forgave her for calling our city "Grand Rapids" instead of Cedar Rapids (they'd just flown in from Grand Rapids, Michigan).
She introduced John and he gave an equally stirring speech, including comments on the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac debacle. McCain had urged the Congress back in 2006 about the potential for their failure but the Democratically-controlled Congress refused to act on the warnings--and sure enough, Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac fell, resulting in our government scrambling to rescue it earlier this month.
You can watch both of their speeches here.
Jim MacDonald after the rally.
And of course, protestors made an appearance.
I liked the ones holding signs, moving slowly alongside the lines of attendees waiting to be screened through security. I appreciated their respect for our right to be there, while also communicating their objections to certain issues and ideologies.
However, other groups erupted and disrupted the speeches. These protestors struck me as insulting and immature. Of course, it occurs to me that these displays are never really targeted toward attendees, but more likely for TV cameras and YouTube audiences.
A couple of disruptive groups interrupted Palin and then John. The worst was a couple of guys and a couple of girls protesting the Viet Nam war (say what? didn't that *end*, like, 40 years ago???)--or perhaps it was McCain's participation in the Viet Nam war? (um, he served and suffered as a P.O.W., enduring worse than the paper cuts and hurt feelings these protestors have suffered in their short, passionate lives).
Anyway, their shouts and shenanigans interrupted John's speech for two or three minutes, causing McCain supporters to drown them out shouting, "JOHN MIC-CAIN, JOHN MIC-CAIN...." Police escorted the disruptive protestors out of the area. I was relieved, because for a few moments the raised emotions signalled an edginess, as if just a moment more would push the rally into a riot. Police presence probably diffused this. Officials did not arrest the protestors but released them back into the wild.
Quite an eventful event.
Afterward, Angie, a student reporter accompanied by a student photographer, both working for "The Torch" of Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, asked to interview me. I felt flattered and tried to answer her questions as interestingly as I could on the fly. (There's a reason I'm a writer--I write as a process of organizing my thoughts, in order to know what I think, if you know what I mean.) I'll try to get a copy of the issue in which she publishes the story and perhaps post a link to a PDF version.
After the rally, McCain and Palin toured the flood-damaged neighborhoods of downtown with Cedar Rapids officials, including the mayor pro-tem, Brian Fagan. This is yet another issue: Cedar Rapidians are growing impatient to the point of downright angry with Mayor Kay Halloran for her lack of visibility, which translates as indifference toward those who suffered in the catastrophic floods of June '08. I fear whether her health is a factor. More later.*
P.S. Out of fairness, I wanted to attend an Obama rally, too, but it looks like it's too late. According to his website (scroll down to "Obama Events"), his plans include Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri, Ohio--no more appearances scheduled in Iowa. McCain is coming through Iowa again on Saturday, Oct. 11th.
Cedar Rapids, IA - Mayor Kay Halloran has obstructive sleep apnea. Now that the diagnosis is public, the tone of the press has softened considerably. (I can't even find the articles from KCRG and the Gazette attacking her for not providing an interview prior to this announcement.)
However, does sleep apnea explain why she chooses to remain in the background while the mayor pro-tem, Brian Fagan, seems to serve as the city's public leader?
Or is she naturally an introvert?
It's hard not to recall the hands-on public style of Guiliani, mayor of New York, after the catastrophic morning of 9/11 when he provided visible leadership at Ground Zero, while our mayor remains invisible to the public, inaccessible to her citizens who suffered enourmously after the June floods in Cedar Rapids. It doesn't help when she's caught on-camera barking dismissively, "We didn't cause the flood."
Interestingly, both the video and the Gazette story with that quote do not appear online, and all previous articles casting her in a negative light have vanished. I objected to KCRG's daily negative coverage of Halloran (some would call them attacks) prior to her diagnosis--which included a daily countdown of her refusal to do an interview with reporters--but neither do I agree with the media's apparent "cleaning up" of news stories afterward.