Ted Kennedy and Howard Dean may have fizzled, and Teresa Heinz Kerry cooed
cerebrally, but the star of Tuesday night and the Democratic future was
clearly Barack Obama.
Listening to the speech from the press risers, I was reminded of the
keynote address at the 1984 Democratic convention. Like Obama today, Mario
Cuomo was the rising star of the moment; and also like Obama, Cuomo was (and
most certainly viewed himself as) a breakthrough candidate for an ethnic group
-- in his case, obviously, Italian-Americans. No multi-culti stuff for Mario
and Barack, however; each depicted their moment as an expansion of a diverse
but indivisible American democracy.
For the past several years, one of the ongoing mysteries of a not overly mysterious labor movement is what the Carpenters Union will do in any given election season. Since the maverick Doug McCarron became Carpenters president in 1995, the union has left the AFL-CIO, linked itself to such organizing-intensive and progressive unions as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) in the New Unity Partnership, and, since 2001, hosted Labor Day picnics at which the guest of honor was George W. Bush.
Longtime union officials and staffers were exuding an almost gleeful incredulity this weekend on the eve of the convention. Not about the November election itself; on the question of the ultimate outcome, experienced political hands remain cautious. United Auto Workers Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn fretted that “Michigan is closer than it should be” due to the social conservatism that prevails throughout much of the state. One union official worried that the largest numbers of dedicated activists tended to reside in such decidedly non-battleground states as California and New York, and couldn't easily be deployed to swing states.
Marie Gonzalez sounds a bit like your classic Valley girl, punctuating her sentences with the obligatory "for sures" and "you knows." And, for sure, the 18-year-old, who graduated this spring from Helias High School in Jefferson City, Mo., seems in every way your normal American young woman -- on the tennis and track teams in high school, very involved with her parish, looking forward to college this fall. Well, conditionally looking forward to college.
For Marie, who seems to have stepped out of a 21st-century update of a Norman Rockwell tableau, has a problem: The government wants to deport her to Costa Rica. And Marie, whose parents brought her to the States when she was 5, faces the abrupt prospect of losing everything she has in all good faith worked for.