Friday, October 19, 2012

Scaling back Election Night spectacle an acknowledgement of political reality

OBAMA: A smaller-scale celebration
The “word” is out there – Barack Obama will have his Election Night party in Chicago, but nobody is going to try to recreate that moment of nearly four years ago when the Obama family celebrated the senator’s presidential victory with a rally in Grant Park.

The images the nation got that night showed off Chicago at its finest. But they were truly an “of the moment” event. There is no way that anything could be done at that site on Nov. 6 without it looking diminished by comparison.

SO WE’RE GOING to get a different image next month – the sight of the McCormick Place convention center being used for whatever kind of campaign night rally winds up getting staged.

It will be a bigger-scale event than the usual hotel ballroom-type campaign celebrations – even the ones that many Sout’ Side politicos have held throughout the years at the old McCormick Place Hotel (which for a place that was supposed to be a luxury hotel always had – in my opinion – a touch of tawdriness to it).

Bigger in that they’ll be using the meeting halls where events such as the Auto Show are held each year.

Thousands of people will be able to squeeze their way into the building and will be able to say “they were there” on the night that a local-guy-turned-good got to learn whether he would get a second term of work in the Oval Office.

BUT IT’S STILL going to be a campaign night rally at the McCormick Place. We’ll get to check out the 2013-17 model Obama government official in the same place that we check out the new Hyundai Tiburon, or some fancy model of sports car that we’ll never be able to fit into our lives.

All we’d need is some shapely, blond aspiring models in form-fitting gowns speaking into a microphone to tell us about all the new features on this version of “President Obama” compared to the version we’ve seen for the past four years.

I’m sure they’d appreciate a night’s worth of work.

Yet what I find most interesting about the idea of an Obama election night event at the McCormick Place is the fact I stated earlier – that countless politicians have used the McCormick Hotel for their campaign celebration events.

WHICH USUALLY CONSIST of a cash bar for a short while, a lot of political geeks milling about trying to pretend that they’re people of significance because of their ties to the candidate, then a speech that everybody makes a big deal about for the few seconds it is broadcast live on local television newscasts – only to be completely forgotten about a couple of hours later.

Obama at McCormick Place makes this campaign seem much more ordinary than the whole ordeal of the 2008 campaign – the one that tried to give us “hope” and “change” only to have Republican ideologues do the best they could to thwart any significant change from occurring.

Maybe if this gets staged properly, it will make us realize that Obama is a would-be government official – and not the demi-god that some people naively were hoping for in that last election cycle.

If anything, the scale of Grant Park only enhanced that unrealistic image. Even back then, I couldn’t help but think that some people didn’t have a clue about what an Obama presidency could achieve. Personally, I’m amazed at some of the things he did manage to accomplish – considering he had a Congress with a faction as blatantly hostile as the City Council of old was to former Mayor Harold Washington (yet another politico who used the old McCormick Hotel).

COMING DOWN TO McCormick Place may make some people go into a second Obama term (if that’s the way the election cycle ultimately winds up) with more realistic expectations of a second term.

Because the ideologues aren’t going anywhere. And I wonder how gray-haired and wrinkled Obama will be on that date in January 2017 when a second term would end – and Air Force One would give him that final ride home back to Chicago.


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