I went into State College for dinner after work yesterday. On a whim, I turned up Allen Street on the way back to stop off at the Republican campaign office, in the old storefront which used to be Allen Street Video, was once the Democratic campaign office, and was used last January for the First Night “Instant Poetry” event. There were a couple of college Republicans manning a phone bank, checking up on absentee ballot request form distributions. I ended up helping by stuffing envelopes for a mailing for the State Representative of my old district, when I still lived in the Borough. Couple hours of mindless work, but at least I got some gossiping in with the kids.
The office was notably short of “Bush/Cheney” yard signs, and the word is that there’s been fairly massive theft and destruction of yard-signs this year in the county. The office guy said “hundreds”, from the Borough to the townships and up into the mountains. Lots of stories about pissed-off little old ladies with empty lawns, of signs being shot or burned, and people threatening to staple their replacement signs to mailbox posts, or electrify the signs in expectation of a return of the nocturnal raiders. This isn’t a Democratic county - outside of the Borough and Bellefonte, we’re heavily out-numbered, as you’d expect of “Alabama”. I told him I was worried if the vandals are going up into the mountains to steal and destroy signs, that the country folk are likely to sic dogs on ‘em, or even shoot them. He noted that all these kids are doing is pissing off the Republican base, and doing the campaign office’s job for them. We talked a little about the Knoxville shooting, which I knew more about than he.
The State Representative, Lynn Herman, came through later in the night. I told him I was making up for not being able to vote for him any more, by doing a little envelope-stuffing. He’s apparently in a serious campaign - they’re actually running TV ads, something I’d never seen him do in the ten years I was living in his district.
They turned on the radio to listen to Cheney and Edwards, fighting with poor reception and a bit of a radio shadow in that building. So I sat, stuffed envelopes, and listened to the vice presidential debate. It’s different, listening in public. I had to stop swearing at the candidates, for one thing.... Cheney seemed, to me, to have wiped the floor with Johnny Non Sequitor. Cheney’ll never set the world on fire, as a public speaker, but he’s an excellent debater. He only becomes clearer and sharper with anger, and Edwards’ ham-handed Haliburton attacks only stung Cheney to let loose with the sharpest verbal evisceration I have yet heard from a politician this season, offering an avalanche of evidence of the young Senator’s disinclination to show up for work, culminating with the personal note that Cheney, as Vice President, is also President of the Senate, and that the debate was the first time he had ever met the Senator from North Carolina. Think about that for a moment. In an organization with only a hundred Senators, Edwards had never, in four years, actually managed to be introduced to the President of the Senate.
The office closed at ten, so I caught the rest of the debate on the drive back to Bellefonte, and on TV at home. It wasn’t until I started watching it on TV that I realized that Cheney had been muffling himself by folding his hands over his own mike, thus causing periods of time where he sounded muted and distant, due to the interference. Not too swift, but I still think he did much better than the Senator. Shame they couldn’t get Cheney to debate Kerry, I suspect he’d bounce the Junior Senator from Massachusetts off of four walls and the ceiling.
Update: Oops. Presumably the out is that they weren't in the Senate for that shot...