Feb. 14th, 2008

phamos: (superpower)
So I signed up online to volunteer for the Obama campaign this weekend, and they told me to come to a "training" tonight at their headquarters. This wasn't so much a training as a little mini-rally, mostly aimed at college kids who needed to get fired up/ready to go/whatever about pestering people down the hall in their dorms. Unbeknownst to me (and to the other people at the "training" over the age of 22, of which there were about 10 out of a crowd of 60 or so), the big draw for the night was that actors Kal Penn and Brandon Routh were going to come talk about why they support Barack Obama. I manged to pick up through some mumbling who the special guests were. A man in his early 40s asked me if I knew who was coming, who we were waiting for, and I said, "Superman and Kumar." This cracked up the little pod of middle-aged folks around me, one of whom started bemoaning the fact that she first worked on a campaign in '72 and she felt really old. I can only imagine how she felt, since I was already feeling pretty decrepit.

So the main organizers spoke, and basically told us to sign up if we hadn't already and they'd call us tomorrow to tell us when to come in and do our GOTV shift. And then Superman and Kumar came in. It's always funny to see celebrities in person, because they totally look like normal people, just slightly SHINIER normal people, and you feel like you know them but you totally don't. Brandon Routh is pretty tall -- about 6'3", I'd say. Nice broad shoulders. Pretty face, pretty hair. Up close I could see that his skin had a tiny bit of acne-scarring, which made me like him more. He was wearing a blue ringer t-shirt with Obama's face stenciled onto it. Good looking man. Kal Penn is also very cute. Shorter, about 5'10". Looks 100% exactly like he does on screen. Sounds 100% exactly like he does on screen. And he's a REALLY good Obama advocate, because he's obviously passionate, he's funny, he's very well-spoken, and he had some fantastic anecdotes to tell. (His grandparents marched with Gandhi, and he talked about growing up hearing those stories and how Obama is the first person to inspire him in that way since his grandparents. That's a good one.) Routh was less eloquent, more shambly every-man, but he made a great point about how campaigning for Barack Obama is not, for him, about being in the public eye and making a difference that way -- it just that, simply, he recognizes that you shouldn't be completely cynical about politics because politics touches you and everyone you love, and he felt the need to work against that cynicism for the betterment of himself and the people around him. Or something like that. GoBama!

When Penn and Routh got there and started talking, some TV cameras got turned on. This random guy (wearing a leather jacket and a shirt with Bush's face with an x through it) managed to position himself right next to Superman, and as soon as the cameras went on, he pulls out a giant cardboard sign with Obama's quote about being willing to go after Bin Laden in Pakistan plastered across the front, along with the URL infowars.org. (I didn't know whether he was an International ANSWER/Lyndon LaRouche guy or a Paultard at the time...from looking at the site, it looks like Paultard.) You could see that the organizers realized there was a disgruntled nerd trying to make a scene, and didn't quite know what to do...they were smart enough to immediately pick up (as did I) that he totally WANTED them to kick him out so he could shout about free speech shit, so they just ignored him. Brandon Routh was talking, and Kal Penn sorta looked over at the sign and started reading it and raised his eyebrows in a little "are you serious?" kind of face. It made me giggle. So the guy is ticked off that no one is paying any attention to his dumb sloganeering (you know, some of us have more nuanced ideas about foreign policy than just "bomb everyone" or "shiny happy people" and aren't particularly cheesed off about a leader saying that he is willing to use our armed forces for a mission -- when it's the right damn mission), so he suddenly starts shouting "Don't bomb Iran! Don't bomb Pakistan! Don't bomb Iran! don't bomb Pakistan!" A couple people look kind of confused, a couple of people hesitantly clap, like, "Yeah, I don't wanna do that. Are we bombing them? What's happening?" The vast majority of us just sorta stare at him like, "OK, yeah? Dude? Your point?" And he starts sorta mealy-mouthing something about how Obama is willing to bomb Pakistan. And we all continue to look at him like, yeah, duh, we're all politically aware adults, we heard that quote -- who didn't hear that quote? He starts walking towards the side-door of the laundromat (this is all happening in a laundromat which is also a bar which is also the Obama Madison headquarters), and a couple of people from the campaign are standing sorta near him and basically nudge him towards the door, and then he starts frantically shouting about "Free Speech" and says something about "Kumar", and Kal Penn laughs and says "That's not actually my name." So the guy basically just walks out the door of his own accord, because he has absolutely nothing of any substance to say and everyone's just sorta staring at him sadly, but I'm sure he'll be blogging tonight about how Obama goons manhandled him out of the laundromat. They didn't. It was entirely pathetic and spastic. WE'RE HERE! WE'RE QUEER! WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE BEARS!

That was my fun for the evening. I then drove around town trying (in vain) to find an open DQ to get an Arctic Rush, while simultaneously talking to Siobhan on the phone. Multitasking!


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