by Our Frozen Correspondent
The crowd of 150-200 gathering on the Keene, NH town square is mostly older folks: legionares, country-squires, retirees, stocky guys with close-cropped white hair. I could swear they are the same guys from my neighborhood when I was a boy, the ones who lived in the houses behind meticiously manicured hedges, who would come out on their porches to yell “Hey, you kids! Get offa my lawn!”
There are also women, prim and well groomed, and a few clean-cut young people. The volunteers are passing out little American flags and McCaine signs. One asks if I am ex-military. There are several vets there including an older fellow in a wheel chair.
I wonder how they all feel about the Rolling Stones song blaring over the PA “Start Me Up”. Hard rock music is the standard soundtrack for the pre-speech warmups at these events.
“Make a grown man cryyyy” moans Mick Jagger. “Make a dead man come!” Did anyone sreeen these lyrics?
The crowd is infiltrated by people . . . wearing DividedWeFail.org hats. The hats and the groups signs are ubiquitious at all the events I’ve attended, regardless of party or candidate.
The aids form a rope line, a corridor for the candidate to enter. The media position themselves along it, as do supporters with signs. The Straight Talk Express bus rolls into view.
The event was supposed to be held at the Stage restaurant facing the square, but they moved it outside to accomodate more people. Perhaps best we are not in the restaurant, the air is tainted by an acrid burnt-toast smell that seems to be coming from that direction.
McCain is surrounded by media when he emerges from the bus and slowly works his way across the street, up the corridor and onto the band gazebo.
He introduces his wife and kids, gives a shout out to the veterans. He’s all about the veterans.
His speech could be summed up by four words, “Get offa my lawn!”
He says he’s the only one who can “Keep America safe!”. In the War on Terrorism he says “I know how to beat this enemy!”
He does mention “climate change” and how it needs to be addressed. His solution? Nuclear power. The acrid smell is getting stronger, and a smokey haze fills the air over the town green. People glance around but no source of the smoke can be seen. No firetrucks appear – to the dispointment of the media – and the smoke blows away.
The speech is lackluster, as pale as he is – and he is disturbingly pale. Of course, Obama is a tough act to follow, but McCain is definately an old school campaigner. He would not have discussed with the crowd their preference for cold pizza – as Obama did last night.