One Night in Palin
Mingling with Austin's pro-life counterculture ... with Governor Rick Perry ... and Governor Drop-out Sarah Palin ... During a $500,000 fundraiser for local "emotional terrorism group", Heroic Media.
by Ethan Persoff, http://www.ep.tc
Posted day after the event: April 30, 2010
Sarah Palin doesn't have it easy. The jokes are too simple. Subjective instinct is to make fun of her for being a bimbo, and brainless. This is also her strength, because you expect less from her. Sort of a built-in handicap that applauds properly spelled words and adequately spoken sentences. And in many ways the jokes write themselves.
For instance, there's the obvious "She fucked her way into power" jokes. This was the source of my first chuckle -- upon reading she'd be appearing in, of all personal spaces, Austin Texas. The event was covered through Frontgate Tickets, and in their event listing they had a description for Palin that began:
"In August 2008, Senator McCain tapped Palin to serve as his vice-presidential running mate."
We'll never know what happened between these two, except that vampirically one was sucked of power and the other infinitely gained. But the insistence that she was "tapped by McCain" is not urban legend. her P.R. machine pronounced in a press release. And it's that very machine that I saw myself willingly, or otherwise, getting pounded into during a Thursday evening event entitled "An Evening with Sarah Palin." Good God, I hoped to dress like I would for a Gallagher concert. Because I feared this could get messy.
The afternoon before the event wasn't without incident. I was near the University of Texas for lunch, and suddenly noticed an impromptu parade of activists walking in protest over Arizona's recently penned hate law, "SB-170". Good signs held high: "Smash White Supremacy" "Ningun Ser Humano es Illegal" (No Human being is Illegal) "Down With Paperweight Racism" Good chants, too. We can all evaluate the merits and failings of this piece of legislature. That the "show me your papers" bill is its own joke, in that it is its occupiers (white people) who themselves invaded Arizona and used all forms of attack: germ warfare, enslavement, alcohol, to destroy its indigenous population. But the point is: on a perfectly beautiful day in Austin I saw a bunch of young kids spending their lunch to speak up for something they cared about changing, and saw as unjust. And then I looked over to my left and saw a group of fat pasty bozos making fun of them, snickering.
Kids can be mean. This is something we all learn as adults. But when you see a nice parade of white people sticking up for Mexicans you want to get closer to those laughing and figure out who the fuck they are. One of them had a patch on his bag, "College Conservative of Texas" and then I saw a table of other kids with the banner, "College Conservatives of Texas". I took it on a hunch that these people were related. And walked over to check them out.
Anyone familiar with this website should realize I like pieces of paper. I'll often look around for something in places I've learned to expect will have something interesting. And noticing a booklet at their table entitled in all caps, "BARACK OBAMA'S RULES FOR REVOLUTION" my immediate instinct is to paw it. Already in hand, I ask the College Conservatives, "Is this free?" A reluctant and stammering yes, as I walk off. Then I look at the bottom piece of text, "By David Horowitz". Horowitz! Wait a second. I jump back at the table. "Horowitz! Listen, I have no problem with you guys," extending my hand and eyes in an accepting gesture ... This is true, we all need to find out who we are ... "But you guys are going to out-grow Horowitz, let me just tell you that. He's a real asshole." The alpha of the group agrees, "Yeah I don't like him either" he tells me. But I need to finish my comment, "He's a rotten goat. Likes to shove his heel on people's throats after they die. He's a distorter. You don't want him, won't learn anything from him." The whole table is somewhat receptive, mostly because I'm genuinely smiling and not confronting them, just their booklet. "What else you got?" There's a funny button showing a plane approaching the WTC saying "9-11 Never Forget" and a temporary tattoo of a Republican Elephant logo. I grab both and pick up the other book, "Confrontational Politics" by H.L. Richardson. "Well, this one's okay," agreeing with the title personally, nodding.
The Young Republicans appear pleased. Maybe it's because I'm the first person to speak with the table all afternoon, and a possible convert or colleague. We're joking about Horowitz -- and maybe because I'm laughing and being friendly they continue the conversation about not liking him, either. The alpha of the group repeats that he doesn't like Horowitz.
"So you guys going to Palin tonight?" No, they all tell me. "We have tickets" continues the one alpha, "But like you said, about not always liking someone." I'm surprised, but festive, "Uppity?" I say, to silence. "Woman?" No one answers.
One of the two women at the table hesitantly lifts up another item. She's showing me their one remaining giveaway, entitled, "The Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute Great American Conservative Women 2010 Calendar" ... It's colorful and decorated like a Wonder Woman outfit ... But at this moment, I can't even read it, but I do notice she's fanning out a page with a face and dates on it, and I pocket the calendar. The alpha of the group, who was talking while I wasn't listening, is looking for a punchline, or to get my attention again, and continue our Palin moment. He does not like Palin. So he tells me, referring to the calendar: "There's some dumb sluts in that one, too."
I'm a bit taken back by that. This kid is maybe 19 on a good day. But what? I'm looking over at the girls, and I suddenly feel pretty bad for them, trying not to respond. But their faces are less embarrassed or hurt, than they are anxious to my reaction. In the number one rule of comedy, try try again, he repeats, "There's some dumb sluts in that one, too."
Okay! It was only until I walked off and fanned through the calendar to see Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter as Miss April and Miss September. Suddenly realized, hey I guess the kid was right.
The Evening Event / The Evening's Hosts
Doors open for the Sarah Palin event at 5:30, with the proceedings scheduled to begin at 6:30. I get there around 5:45. The rented venue is the Austin Convention Center. I've been here a number of times, but only for South By Southwest. Seeing a place I associate with nearly ten years of good feeling suddenly occupied by very wealthy Republicans covered in jewelry and perfume is a bit strange, not unlike welcoming strangers you don't trust into a good memory. But I know they rent the space throughout the year to all sorts of events, so I look forward to walking through the space, and viewing it in a transformed setting.
There were hecklers (friends by association) outside with signs, but only about twenty of them. Most of the people who were most upset about Palin speaking in Austin were attending a Texas Democratic Party entitled "A Night Without Sarah Palin" complete with a Palin impersonator. They were a few blocks away, drinking away the assault.
Right about now I should talk about cost. Tickets were fifty dollars for a general admission seat, and a hundred dollars for ones closer to the stage in an assigned seat. And I should discuss the evening organizers, "Heroic Media." If you live in Austin and watch daytime TV there's a chance you've said "fuck you" to one of their commercials. They are a propaganda machine. Their website states:
Heroic Media is a faith-based non-profit that reduces abortion by creating a Culture of Life through television, billboard and internet advertising that connects women in crisis with life-affirming resource centers.
They brag about their conduct:
Heroic Media uses media that our target audience uses: television, internet, cell phone texting and billboards. We run our campaigns in 13 week campaigns — once in the spring and once in the fall.
All of our messages are research-based and target women 18-34 since they are most likely to have abortions. We measure the effectiveness of each message so that we can continue building upon what works.
Our television commercials air on all major networks and key cable channels. We focus on programming that our target audience watches. Our billboards are placed along thoroughfares that our target audience frequents. And, our internet messages connect women to partner sites that offer answers to a multitude of issues young women face including abortion, adoption, abstinence, cutting, and more.
Once again, fine if that's what you're about. But we're not talking about selling Wheaties, we're talking about fucking with people in vulnerable moments. Now, now. I know you figure I'm just being contrary. But very little thought is given to the potentially 60 year commitment that often accompanies a pregnancy. That first nine months is really the easiest, and most ingratiating. If you care about lives you had no business creating, go to the homeless shelter (hey, only four blocks away, due north) and take your pick from 300 people a night, many of them the victims of unwanted pregnancy. House them, employ them, etc. But clearly I'm not the target market here.
Heroic Media makes extremely good commercials, but they're not without their humor. One television spot, "I'm a Life" has a series of children speaking about what they might accomplish if they were not killed. There are black and white kids saying "I am a life. I am a life and I want to be a doctor. I am a life and I want to be an artist. I am a life and I want to stop Global Warming."
Okay, laugh track: If you're a life and you want to stop Global Warming, don't be born. But some credit due to Heroic Media for including the Global Warming "myth" into their guilt spots. I think that might have to do with them being based in environmental Austin. But as a local resident, I definitely feel I have every right to say I am a life, and insert expletive here.
So, anyway, that's the evening's hosts. I get my ticket and take the escalator to the top of the Convention Center. A bunch of people are getting drinks (though no one is noticeably drunk, yet) and there's lots of food. I walk to the end of the hallway and into the main room, where I'm shown the general admission section and left alone to find a seat.
These seats weren't cheap, $50, but they're clearly the cheap seats compared to the $100 tickets roped off in front of you. Media was not allowed credentials to the event, and anyone wanting to cover it had to pony up $50 a person, which means a de facto donation to an anti-choice group. (Well no different ethically than paying my AT&T bill each month, I guess.) There is also a strict no cameras and no video policy. No audio, either. Thank god they let pens inside. The screens are on a slideshow showing gigantic babies in various states of rage, fear, euphoria and sleep. The music sounds like a waterfall of angels and someone grunting meaningfully.
A man is walking up and down the aisles, handing out literature. I call him over and begin a conversation. His name is David. And his handout is for an organization called GOOOH, "Get Out of Our House." A local Tea Party organization.
The Tea Partier and the Drunk Girl
David is actually my favorite part of the night. David is a Tea Party member, an older man, and we talk for a good twenty minutes. He belongs to Austin's local chapter. He is fully invested in persuading me to attend a meeting. I ask him about GOOOH.
"It got started by Tim Cox. This guy is a genius. He works for Dell. You know those swipe cards outside at the gas stations. Where you pay with credit cards? People told him it couldn't be done, but he invented that. Over twenty years ago."
He tells me GOOOH is a Tea Party organization, mostly built around one idea, term limits, or getting what he refers to as "The Intellects" out of office so that us normal hard working people can get inside. "It's the only way, short of revolution." David is my first Tea Partier, and I can't help but love everything he's telling me.
The Tea Party's goal, he indicates, is to reach 500,000 national members. At that point they will be able to select candidates for running for office. He describes how during meetings they have mock-interviews with future selected candidates. After paying $100 any person can go through a vetting process with groups of ten people, rising up the ranks through other groups of ten people, until they are ready for running for public office. "By then we'd know exactly where they stood." It's not unlike the primary process for being a delegate, but there's a heavy tinge of Scientology involved. The $100 buy-in? And the need to provide correct answers? "Well someone like yourself," he tells me, "You pay that and then watch - you'd go right through the ranks. Before you know it..."
Well okay, right. He's trying to get me involved in the local chapter, which he admits is thankfully low in numbers. So I ask a few questions about these Tea Parties. Are they faith based? "Not directly, but it's 80% Christian. Just like the U.S." What about separation of church and state? "There IS NO separation of church and state. It's no where in the Constitution." he tells me. I tell him I can prove there is, laughing, somewhere in the top five. Something about laughing in these situations always keeps the conversation going. "No there is not." Okay, what about people that came to this country to avoid religious persecution? He tells me there are plenty of examples of that, but none of them matter. I ask, the Quakers? He tells me a better example is Jehovah's Witnesses, who don't vote, aren't a part of society. "Aren't a part of the mix."
So what are you against, I mean mostly? Taxes, he tells me, on repeat. "Well," I tell him, "I made exactly as much as I did last year, and this year I paid $1100 less in taxes." What about PROPERTY taxes, he asks me. I look down at my program for the evening. "Well, Rick Perry's speaking tonight. That's really his problem, isn't it? Not the fed."
He bristles, "I don't have anything to say about Perry. I like the man." I offer dishonestly that I love Perry, which returns us to the conversation. Can we get back to the Tea Party? "It's really the intellects that are ruining this country. Because they have NO SKIN IN THE GAME." He tells me, repeating this constantly in various forms. "Do you know what a million dollars looks like?"
I offer, figuring that we're getting to the deficit, that I don't know what a million dollars looks like. He proceeds to describe how much space a million would take up if you stacked up separate hundred dollar bills. "Now how about a TRILLION." I offer that'd be a lot. "The whole room." We both look at the room. "So, the intellects, I ask." "No skin in the game."
I'm curious to what this means, even though I like the mystery. I ask about control, and if the Tea Party would be around if McCain had won the election. "Well it'd be better ... I voted for him. Didn't like him terribly, but it'd be better. I really liked Palin." I think we all did, I utter again. Man that one hurt.
Somehow my mind is getting tangled and I look down at the program and joke "No union stamp" (an old graphic once denoting something was printed by a union) "Unions COERCE" he tells me. "Ah," surprised that hit a button, David looks about 60, and I'm sure he's lived with positive union memories. I argue, "but we're all better because of them, I mean over their hundred years ---" He interrupts to mention they do nothing now other than coerce, and lie, and steal. So that's a veto on unions.
I ask about the future of the Tea Party and he tells me that they're needing to "Control things." That "We're heading for a revolution. Shit, we're probably already in it!" And that the only way to control things is, "through something happening, getting the intellects out, or worse." implying heavily that he'd like it violent - if only as a perceived fantasy. Well, well! We shake hands and he shakes in an odd way that yanks me forward. Good thing I wasn't holding a drink. No skin in the game.
Speaking of drinking, behind me is a very drunk woman and her companion. "I wanna get closeurr to Saruhhh. Shoulda paid the extruh hundredt. Baby....." But we're really only fifty feet away. Anyway, she'll soon have her chance.
The event is about 40% undersold, and they open up the far right of the $100 seats to the general admission crowd. This is a handful of seats, at best fifty, but most of the crowd gets up to move forward. A fairly funny moment watching about 2/3 of them ebb forward and then directly back to their previous seat.
Opening Prayer and Commercials
After what felt like fifty minutes of Arena Church Anthem Music (the spiritual sort that sounds like Dave Matthews) the lights dim, then get very bright, then dim again, and then members of Heroic Media come out to introduce the evening, starting with a prayer. But it's first not without a few jokes, which the MC frames as bipartisan: "Did you hear Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, and Bill Clinton all took a trip to Oz? ... No? Well McConnell asked for a heart, Pelosi asked for a brain, and Clinton asked, 'where's Dorothy?'" - Laughs. I appreciate the jab at McConnell. Host follows, "Did you hear Sarah Palin is hear tonight?" Huge crowd cheers, punching his line with: "What, did Michelle Obama cancel?"
And now prayer. A former Baptist Minister appears and asks us to thank our Father. Thank you Father this, and thank you Father that. Then we thank Jesus, who apparently came to us in physical life and came in spiritual life, too. Then we are to thank both Jesus and Father for the privilege of having Sarah Palin here tonight. And may Father replenish her for her work. And we are to thank Heroic Media, who save lives with wounded hearts. Amen.
And due to contractual agreements, we are not allowed to photograph, video, or record in any way the proceedings. Amen. Amen!
In a moment of what feels like grim exploitation, they reward a black woman for having her baby. In the program this woman is given just as much page space as Palin herself. We are told this person came to Heroic Media and now adores her baby. We're shown pictures of the boy - a very happy kid. But they bring the woman on stage to receive an award and it just feels way too much like a black woman playing the part of Laura Dern in Citizen Ruth. I'm uncomfortable.
Next comes another member of Heroic Media. We're shown the commercials. The first is entitled, "Teen Angst", followed by "I Am a Life" (described above) The crowd cheers wildly. Both spots are richly produced with good lighting and edited well.
The woman on stage continues announces: "Heroic Media works with an ad agency that understands our target market. Everything we do is research based. Now we're going to share with you a NEW SECRET SPOT. This hasn't aired. It's called Ultimatum. But before you watch, please imagine yourself as a minority."
We are shown a black woman proud of her nice black boy, who has a big Eraserhead styled afro. It's well acted, and well produced, but I wanted to know at the end of it if I could stop imagining myself as a minority yet, or if I was to keep on imagining through the night. We're shown another commercial entitled Repeat, about abortion addiction apparently, or abortion as birth control. The loudest applause.
A representative ends the presentation claiming, "You'll notice the soft-sell in those ads. Heroic Media is very crafty."
I'm sorry, I'm still imagining myself like I'm a minority, can u pleez rephrase that?
Funding and Baskets
Now the sell for Heroic Media. When we arrived there were cards on our seats with the demographically selected headline, "CELEBRATING THE HEROISM OF MOTHERHOOD!" Inside are checkboxes for donations of $25,000/year for three years, $15,000/year for three years, $5,000/year for three years, and $1,000/year for three years. Among other donation options.
They're urging us to fill these out now, if possible, to enter a raffle. There will be door prizes to people leaving signed cards with donations and/or contact information. "Show them the gift basket!" They pull out a basket, which is one of the prizes.
They claim the basket contains "Sarah Palin wine ... and nuts." (the space in between nuts and wine was candies.)
Later they divulge where this money goes. Heroic Media has already raised $200,000. But they need $500,000 for their campaign in Austin. They ask for one individual to pledge $15,000 -- which will cover "273 spots" ... "That's $15,000 - one individual. We need you to sponsor." A person is walking around with a basket, just like in church.
"We need five gifts of $10,000" ... "In addition, we need ten gifts of $5,000 dollars." The guy with the basket is walking slowly up and down the aisles.
"Think of the greatest amount you can give."
A Powerpoint slide flashes the following to the attending audience:
FULL MEDIA CAMPAIGN THIS YEAR
$25,000 All TV commercials for 12 days in Austin
$15,000 All daytime commercials for a week
$10,000 Six weeks of Hispanic TV commercials
$5,000 - 47 "Attitude Change" commercials
$1,000 - 298 night time TV commercials
They don't fuck around.
Enough Horseshit, Rick Perry
What can be said about Rick Perry that hasn't been said before? It's not that he's a heavily examined individual, it's just that there's not a lot there to get. No great pieces of literature will be written about the great mind that steered Texas into the 21st Century. At best, you could sum it up in a brochure. The longest serving Governor in Texas history, he has achieved this position by being a living, swaggering billboard for the state. What Texas wants, Rick Perry says. And in that way he is a troubling broadcast, and the source of my joke about Austin: It's the only city in the world surrounded by Texas, not a part of it.
So it's appropriate his first word to the audience, after being introduced after the basket, is "Howdy." Now Perry's voice is something interesting. He has the same speech impediments as Bush, and the same diction. His speech is a bit of threat to Austin, too. Our way of life, or however you want to refer to that. Praising Heroic Media for "speaking with slings and arrows for those that are defenseless," he is, "proud Austin is the birth place of this organization."
His speech is mostly an abortion conversation, veering at points into extreme sections where he accuses Obama of helping push abortions out of the country and around the globe: "America is in the business of exporting abortions." Perry then asking everyone to text the words "LIFE" to a number to receive phone messages from his team of crack anti-abortionologists. Phones light up across the room.
Like Bush, he is "deeply disturbed" by any experiments with living human tissue, urging others to push for adult stem cells, and ending on campaign push that "As long as I'm governor of this state, we won't have blah blah blah or yada yada yada!"
Perry's speech shifts to discussing hardship. It's also a moment where he fools me for a moment. Describing a difficult day he mentioned being in a car with malfunctioning air conditioning, but he'd making it a parable. "And then I thought," he tells us "Wait a minute. There's a kid half across the world without any air conditioning at all."
For half a second I'm impressed: Is this an un-Texan view of less enfranchized, maybe even in a third world country. He finishes: "This kid is putting his life on the line, and hasn't had any air conditioning IN MONTHS. So I shut up quick. And to those Americans fighting in the Middle East, think about them the next time you don't have any working A/C, think about that perspective. Thank you America's soldiers. I will stand with them and I will stand with YOU!"
"And now, it's my great honor to introduce a wonderful woman..." Cheers from the the audience, very excited.
"To be honest, I never met her before January 07" recounting their first meeting at a Governor's convention. "She reminds me that size really does matter."
A bit of a delay from the crowd but then big laughs. They get it. And he punctuates the joke relaying a story where Palin gave him a shirt with a gigantic Alaska mapped out over a smaller Texas. He mentions that she's someone from the outside who is the closest he knows to being a Texan. Ends with another "vote for me" push, saying, "Thank you." And then poof, here HOLY FUCKING SHIT HERE comes Sarah Palin.
You paid for her, now here's Sarah
"Thank you Taxesss, Thank you sew much. Lone Star State!" Cheers. "But anyway great to be here with your great Governor!" Sarah is wearing a familiar red shoulder pad number, with four buttons in front, and a collar. Very stiff. The hair and glasses both look hair-sprayed together, and that chipper smile is locked in a way that her cheeks never loosen; like a reverse botox. "Todd's here tonight!" to more cheers, and then she raps off the cities around Austin she visited today. "Giddings! Round Rock! Austin! Hookem! Gig'em! Yall! So Great to be here."
Man, quoting her is exhausting. It feels like I'm making up blank text to be filled in later, but a Sarah Palin speech is really exactly as you're reading above. Blank disconnected half-sentences and phrases, almost chemically engineered to please the taste buds of her audience, one phrase at a time. The cacophony of reactions to this word or that word is constant, and a magic trick exists where the tapestry makes you really think you're hearing what's referred to as communication. Of course that's her charm, the Charlie Parker of sentence structure. And they love her for it.
"Texas you love your guns and your religion, how about that!" "Wide oh-pen spaces" "You went Rogue." Huge applause and a gotcha look. "God is awesome!"
But it isn't all gibberish. Palin travels with topics, and each appearance is often its own theme, sticking to a topic. This would be a speech about abortion, and not having one, ya know. So Palin opens up her talking points satchel and pulls out one of her favorite over-exploited topics: her daughter Bristol and her son Trig. We are shared many personal stories, including her daughter getting pregnant and then Sarah getting pregnant, and the difficult diagnosis of her son's Down Syndrome. Peppered into this talk are jokes about oil and gas, and Palin's water breaking. We all feel desperately close to Sarah.
All in all, it's amazing that Palin insists family is off the table. No one in politics has made a bigger game of profiting off the exploitation of her children than herself. She's constructed an entire travelling narrative of each person, to the point where we know "The Palins" as well as we might the Huxtables or the Brady Bunch. As for jokes one shouldn't say, Palin utters a mean one about here baby boy: "We learn so much more from Trig ... than he'll ever learn from us."
Sounds a whistle at Sarah. Offsides, that jab, I say!
About this time, bored out of my skull, I inadvertently begin to fantasize of what kind of Palin appearance I'd prefer. Something that matches my expectations. A cloud appears and the words "You are now entering Wasilla" puff out in tiny bubbles. I look back at the stage.
In my mind I see a gigantic bear stumble out on the stage, let loose by its handlers - but still horribly doped and easy for the kill. He's wearing a clown suit, walking on hind legs in a stumble, zapped by electrodes to move forward. For whatever reason I also hear the close of theme from The Simpsons where they sing out "The Simp-sonns"
Snarls from Palin at the beast. She jumps up and pops off one of his teeth, and kills the bear with its own canine, right in the throat. "Gotcha Politics". Her face looks up at the crowd, as she smacks the bear's head repeatedly on the floor, popping open it's skull. "New Fangled!" Dipping into the fresh brains, she begins to chew, madly, winking with one eye, in spasm. "Fish Picker!" She looks up and begins to belch. Uh-oh. First it's just one pop, and then it's bubbling.
She begins to expand like the grape girl in Willy Wonka, and all of a sudden, Pop! First it's just one. Then twelve. Then five hundred newborn babies explode out of her mouth, flooding the air. The audience runs from their seats, holding trash sacks and butterfly nets, as hundreds of fist sized infants shoot out of Palin's mouth, nostrils, ears. "They're all getting adopted!, even the victims of rape and incest!" God shows up and hands each person monopoly cards to heaven. Gallagher makes his promises appearance with a mallet, grabbing a couple discards, and screams, "Now you like watermellons, wait'll you see this!" Lifting the mallet high and -- Cut scene -- Suddenly we're all on a helicopter with Sarah, about to shoot all the muppets and all the Bengal tigers...
My daydream stops and I snap awake, realizing she's still talking. But I can't get the image of her chewing a bear's raw brains out of my mind, and for the remainder of the speech I see her just as that, a yammering woman, chewing on her food, mouth open, spitting brain chunks everywhere. Brain chunks of our most noble beasts. A drool of spit.
By now I realize I'm too far gone. So when Palin's speech concludes, and she and Rick Perry join each other into a prepared Q&A with a moderator, I know I should care more ... Really pay attention to, what Palin might refer to as "Spottin the hypocrisies" ... But I can't. Believe me, I'm trying. But this is largely because nothing human is being communicated from these people. It all feels pre-taped and degraded. They might be answering questions - but they're not talking.
Speech and Q&A finished, Palin and Perry are led out a back door. One woman chooses this moment to scream something. It's the only protest of the whole evening. Quickly Heroic Media barks, "We need a security officer." Adding as the woman is taken away, "Sorry we couldn't change all the hearts and minds in the room! We were told something like this might happen."
Protester, Palin and Perry gone, the room begins to empty, leaving only those in the donor seats to mingle and pay cheer to one another. Mood is church-like, not dissimilar to the buffet table after a baptism. But there's a feeling here, too. It also feels like a political operation and slightly militarized. This is very much a secret society of Austin, and looking at these faces I find myself stuck, leering, unable to leave. During the fundraising push Heroic Media had mentioned donors of $25,000 or more would be welcomed into a honorary club, complete with a tacky gold ribbon. A few of the angriest looking people remaining in the room have this gold ribbon on. There are a few priests holding wine glasses, a woman tipping over with a signed Sarah Palin hardcover, and most of the faces are crew cuts, beady eyes — or very old and rattling for balance. The longer I linger the more visibly angry the crowd of these insiders seem to become towards me. Or maybe I'm just seeing them more clearly. But to their credit, no one ever told me to leave. I'd paid the ticket, after all. Quite a bunch of poisonous seeming people, these life-lovers.
Anyway, it was remarkable to see what will likely be the Republican Presidential ticket in 2012: Palin/Perry. I just hope they bring their A-Game next time, ya know. And put a little skin in it.
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