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Aubrey Sarvis

Aubrey Sarvis

Posted: August 27, 2008 06:32 PM

Michelle, Hillary, and Maureen at the DNC


It's hard to imagine what Hillary Clinton could do to please Maureen Dowd unless she'd stepped up to the dais in her "blazing orange pantsuit" at the Pepsi Center last night and committed seppuku. Instead, Senator Clinton gave a performance that even Maureen described as "electrifying." Until I read the Dowd column this morning, I thought the hardest of the hardcore Hillary haters would be won over. But no. Somewhere in that hall Maureen managed to find a Hillary volunteer who said she'd be voting for McCain in November.

It's hard to tell the difference, sometimes, between the hardcore Hillary haters and the hardcore Hillary kamikazis. They're equally intransigent, as intransigent as the last remaining opponents of gays in the military.

On my way to the Pepsi Center last night I passed a big sign blaring REPEAL AND REPENT, which I took to mean, if you let gays serve openly in the military you'll be really, really sorry. Embellishing the message was a "photo" of Colorado governor's Bill Ritter planting a kiss on another man. Thank you, Photoshop. Where would these people be without it?

Earlier yesterday was one of the biggest gay and lesbian events in Denver this week, the GLBT Delegate Luncheon sponsored by the Victory Fund and the Human Rights Campaign. And it was big - at least six hundred people, maybe more. The guest list alone tells you how far the movement has come just in the last four years. Go back forty years and you might as well be in the 16th Century.

There was Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader, sitting front and center. There were many members of Congress, would be members of Congress, and a lot of delegates to the convention. House members Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin presided. Tammy was key in writing the platform language adopted by the convention that urges repeal of DADT.

The gruff, no nonsense Barney Frank warmed up the room. "A mean Republican called me a radical a few years ago. I said to him what are you talking about? All we want to do is get married, join the army, and get a job. Now, I ask you, is that so radical?" The crowd roared.

But it was Michelle Obama who caused the real excitement and buzz. She was the surprise guest and luncheon speaker. It was a real surprise, too. When she arrived - a very low key entrance - the crowd jumped to its feet for an ovation that must have lasted three minutes.

"I know Barack will be an inclusive President," she said. "I know it with every fiber in my body." She told the crowd, "We know what justice and opportunity and fairness should look like," and the crowd was with her all the way.

Oddly enough, considering her audience, I don't think she ever once used the word gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, or transgender. But I could be wrong, and it didn't seem to matter to her audience anyway. Michelle could ask Hillary Clinton for some pointers on this front. Hillary knows how to talk the talk.

Outside the crowded Sheraton Grand Ballroom a big lineup of advocates came by to say a few words about repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell: former Ambassador Jim Hormel, DNC Treasurer Andy Tobias, Steve Elmendorf, Congressional candidates Jared Polis and Linda Ketner, Clinton appointees Roberta Achtenberg and Todd Dickerson, Brian Johnson, and at least a dozen more, including former service members. Change is in the air, and I don't think that's the altitude talking.

I'm leaving Denver today, just when I'm getting the routine down and a handle on the taxi challenge. I'm going to miss Joe Biden and Bill Clinton tonight but I'll be watching on television. Joe Biden has my sympathy. He has to follow not one but two Clintons. Now I ask you, is that fair? Yes, I know. Life isn't fair.