Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama in the Shenandoah Valley

So Obama was in the Valley yesterday, at the JMU Convocation Center. I had several students ask whether I would cancel class. Though this was a pretty big deal around these parts, we're behind in the syllabus, so I couldn't cancel. Also I try to be scrupulously nonpartisan in class, so I'd have been worried about doing that anyway.

At any rate, after class (about 2:00), I walked down to the Convo with some colleagues, and there were people all over the place. We talked to somebody from the press, and she said that there were about 12,000 people waiting (which seemed a tad high to me, but I'm really bad at estimating crowd sizes). The Convo holds about 7,000. We walked around taking some pictures, and when we walked by the press entrance, somebody yelled to ask us whether we were press--this because we were both carrying sweet cameras. If it had just been JMU security, we would have tried to BS our way in, but we didn't think it was a good idea to try to flim-flam the Secret Service. (I read somewhere that, despite the fact that everyone thinks that he or she is good at detecting lies, only the Secret Service is able to do so at a rate better than that predicted by chance.)

Later that evening, JQ and I heard that some people had gathered to greet him at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport, and on a whim we drove down to Weyer's Cave. Stood outside in the COLD-ass wind for like two hours with about 200 people (see previous remarks about my inability to estimate crowd size). There was a great deal of confusion about where Obama was and when he'd fact, some thought he was already in his plane. Finally everybody seemed to spontaneously decide he wasn't coming and almost everybody left. We waited a bit, then left, but on the way out passed a big suspicious-looking bus. We turned around and ended up between two press busses back to the airport. As we drove in, a rather frantic-looking cop ran up to our car and frantically/semi-angrily asked "Who are you?" To which I responded "Uhhh...I'm not exactly sure how to answer that question." I mean, who am I, really? JQ said that we were there to see Obama, and he motioned us on. There followed about another half-hour of standing in the cold-ass wind. Then the motorcade came by and the remaining 30 people went crazy. We were waving like lunatics, and saw him waving as he drove by.

Pretty exciting, eh?


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