Okay, not quite live, since I am now back at the hotel, but aside from tense, the following reads pretty much how it would have if I’d bothered to liveblog it.
Started heading down to Grant park from Chestnut at some point after nine, probably 9:30. (Obama was up to 211 when I left the restaurant). Lots of people on the streets with Obama T-shirts, lots of big grins, but otherwise things seem pretty normal. That is, until two blocks north of the river, when everything started going nuts. Horns constantly honking, spontaneous shouting, and all of a sudden the sidewalks are getting crowded.
Two blocks north of Millennium Park, stopped at a traffic light, woman with blackberry shouts, “It’s over, Obama just crossed the finish line!” Cue massive cheering, which spreads quickly all up and down Michigan.
A few intersections later somebody realizes that honking his horn in a rhythm instead of just blaring it might help differentiate the celebratory noise from Typical-Chicago-Driver noise. Other cars take up the rhythm and it spreads halfway up the block before dissipating and turning back into a constant blast. That’s when the white convertible with “Obama ’08” painted on it drove by. People cheer it as it goes.
Reach the edge of Grant Park just before McCain’s acceptance speech. The crowd was astonishingly tolerant, cheering him at places. I was among the first to start booing when he mentioned Palin, but the crowd caught on and caught up. Overhear a discussion: “Do you think they’ll run her in 2012?” “I hope so. Obama will steam roll her for his reelection.”
If you got the “Happy Election Day from the biggest party in the country,” phone calls, they happened here. I didn’t say anything important, in case you couldn’t hear, and the periodic sudden rise in volume correlates to the camera focusing on Oprah.
Obama’s speech was nice, and blessedly short. My hips have been crucifying me for standing still for any amount of time, but they held out tonight. Memorable moments:
Obama: Blah blah blah, Joe Biden
Crowd member: The real Joe!
Obama: McCain ran a strong campaign, country’s better for his service blah blah blah
Crowd member: We still won baby!
Obama: I know my grandmother is still watching this
My sister (via text message): Watch out for the zombie in the crowd.
Obama: Blah blah advance, yes we can. Blah blah, yes we can.
Crowd member: Oh thank you lord!
There was also a guy in the crowd with a paint-bucket drum and he’d put it to use whenever the crowd started cheering.
Getting out of Grant Park wasn’t nearly as bad as it might have been. Went with the crowd to the Monroe station on the blue line. Lots of periodic waves of screaming and shouting, people stopping to dance in the streets, somersaults, paraphernalia sales. My train was arriving just as I got there, and I even got a seat.
Got back to my hotel room just after midnight. Turned on CNN, and there’s a guy talking about the Cathedral vs the Bazaar, and speculating about which style of leadership Obama’s going to employ. I found that a little surreal.
At this point I’m waiting up to hear about Prop. 8. I’ll look at the breakdown for who went for what tomorrow – I actually don’t know which state was the one that flipped it since I wasn’t in front of a TV when it happened.
Just eight years ago I was watching Tim Russert at this time of night with a white board and a strained attempt to explain what was going on in Florida, which meant he was teaching the country about the Electoral College. How very different things are now.