The hotel where I'm staying is smack in the middle of the action--so much so that my cab driver had to circle around downtown and drop me off about a quarter mile from the entrance. The streets have been shut down all around the main convention venues, and police cars are parked all over the place with blue lights flashing. It's humid, and there's a glazed look to the streetscape from the rain that kept us from flying in. Trudging toward the hotel along the eerily quiet boulevards of what they call "Uptown," I passed people off work waiting at busstops. Now I'm fairly freezing in a superchilled 4th-floor room. Before I go down to see what's what, a word or two.
It's traditional for outsiders covering events of this sort to begin with the perspective of the cab driver who drives you in from the airport. Mine happened to be originally from Egypt, and has been here for 16 years. A U.S. citizen. He says he will be voting for Obama. Why?
"The Republics [sic] love war."
"What do you mean?"
He explained that "they love war" because in wars people die, and then the people who die are no longer part of the problem on the homefront. More people who die in wars mean fewer people who are homeless, fewer who struggle economically, require health care, and so on. My cab driver was very sure of this. Almost like breathing, we turn perceptions into explanations. Note to self: slow down this process this week. Concentrate on the perceiving, back off on the explaining. Off to the lobby!