5:45 p.m. The Democratic Party, in an effort to go green, has set out in the arena clusters of three trash barrels—one for “landfill,” one for “compost,” one for “recycling.” Although explications of these terms are provided, and workers with green shirts are standing by to help, most garbage-toting passersby seem too rushed to stop and read the fine print or too confused to sort out their rubbish appropriately. I peer into the barrels and all of them hold the same general mix of food, plates, and plastic.
7:00 p.m. Again, it’s prime time back east, and presumably the main hall should be starting to coalesce, but one hears only murmuring and mumbling. The speakers—including the nation’s leading governors and representatives—are all but ignored. Moreover, since at least the 1990s, the parties have tried to make their conventions more appealing to home viewers by featuring, between the politicians’ speeches, remarks from “ordinary” Americans who have suffered some hardship, usually at the hands of the opposing party. For these people, who must be thrilled to have the chance of a lifetime to address a major political party’s nominating convention, the insult must be especially acute and disorienting. They get up and talk about family members with chronic illnesses and no health insurance, or about losing their jobs or their sons in war, and the majority of the assembled are chitchatting about whether Hillary’s delegates will get on board or where they’re going to have lunch tomorrow.
On the Hillary question, I’ve seen a number of delegates wearing pins saying, “A Hillary Supporter for Obama.” When I ask one woman what the sentiment behind the button is, she responds, “On the record or off the record?” On the record, she says she’s still a Hillary supporter but of course is getting behind Obama for the good of the party. Then she asks to speak without attribution. Following the Times’s new policy, I say I’d like to know the reason; she says she might want a job in an Obama administration. She then proceeds to go into a long litany of Obama’s faults and failings, from his “arrogance” to his failure to choose Hillary as vice president to his refusal to embrace her (superior) health care plan. Becoming ardent, she makes clear to me that she wants this to be reported. “A lot of people here are going to vote for McCain,” she says. She also asks me to include the fact that she is African American (which, I should add, she is).