Sunday, April 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare

Greetings, what-ho, prithee, forsooth, and hey nonny nonny!


This weekend English teachers and Rennfest nerds celebrated the birthday of William "Randolph" Shakespeare, universally acknowledged as "the bard" and the lion of Western literature. I had the chance to visit the birthday party at the Folgers Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and submitted for your approval is this photo catalog of the day's events.


The Folgers, the temple of our bardolatry. You'll notice that if I were to compare this particular day to a summer one, it wouldn't come off as noticeably lovely or temperate.


A child learns about the joys of morris dancing.


These kids are learning what a rapier is. Thank goodness! That's two fewer people on Earth to whom I'll have to explain what this blog title means.

Here we are at the costume parlor. I, as Sir Francis Drake, am putting the sword to Lauren, the Queen Isabella of La Spania, to get her to renounce her Catholicism.

They also had a costume for those who wanted to dress up as Lady MacBeth. (Jared pats self on the back for his own cleverness.)


This is the reading room of the Shakespeare library. There's a distinct...Hogwart-ishness to it.

Here is Jared with world-class Shakespearean legend Derek Jacobi. When it comes to Shakespeare chops, this guy strides the globe like a colossus. I told him that I remembered watching his "Hamlet" in my high school English class. What I didn't tell him, however, is that I remembered him best from "The Secret of Nimh." I told him, "Oh that this too, too solid flesh would melt!" and asked him what his favorite Shakespearean soliloquy was. He said "Richard the Second, Act Five." Here is an excerpt.

I have been studying how I may compare
This prison where I live unto the world:
And for because the world is populous
And here is not a creature but myself,
...
To cheque time broke in a disorder'd string;
But for the concord of my state and time
Had not an ear to hear my true time broke.
I wasted time, and now doth time waste me;
For now hath time made me his numbering clock:
My thoughts are minutes; and with sighs they jar
Their watches on unto mine eyes, the outward watch,
Whereto my finger, like a dial's point,
Is pointing still, in cleansing them from tears.
Now sir, the sound that tells what hour it is
Are clamorous groans, which strike upon my heart,
Which is the bell: so sighs and tears and groans
Show minutes, times, and hours: but my time
Runs posting on in Bolingbroke's proud joy,
While I stand fooling here, his Jack o' the clock.
This music mads me; let it sound no more;
For though it have holp madmen to their wits,
In me it seems it will make wise men mad.
Yet blessing on his heart that gives it me!
For 'tis a sign of love; and love to Richard
Is a strange brooch in this all-hating world.



It was a fun party. Sigh. Our revels now are ended!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Brush up your Shakespeare

So you know, I never actually took a Shakespeare class in college. To help my then-blossoming journalism aspirations, I took so many writing, contemporary rhetoric, and internship classes, I didn’t have a lot of room left over to study “the bard.”

Frankly, given how much Shakespeare I learned from Captain Picard and General Chang, I never felt that my education was lacking.

Boy howdy, however, is it.

On Monday, I went to this lecture at the Folger’s Shakespeare Library. I’d seen an ad in the Post and it said “Free lecture: ‘How Shakespeare Made History.’” And I thought to myself, “What a great way to brush up my Shakespeare / start quoting him now / brush up my Shakespeare / and the women, I will wow.”

Hrm.

The speaker (from Columbia University or somewhere) started the lecture by saying, “My title is ‘How Shakespeare Made History’ or ‘What Fleance did next.’”

Uproarious laughter from the crowd. Except from yours truly, who didn’t get the joke or even know who Fleance was. And the lights were out so I couldn’t check his Wikipedia entry on my Blackberry.

Highlights of the lecture:

  • The archetypal knight errant specializes in fornication and murder
  • Brutus is the legendary founder of England
  • Edward the confessor was important for some reason
  • Midway through Shakespeare’s canon he switches monarchs from Elizabeth to James
  • Falstaff is in Henvry IV and Merry Wives of Windsow
  • MacBeth, as a monarch, has so much to appeal to the vanity of King James

Anyway. I really need to learn more Shakespeare.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY’S JARED WHITLEY SCORES SPOT IN WHITE HOUSE PRESS SHOP

WashingtonSalt Lake City native Jared Whitley has been hired as an associate director in the White House communications office. He will be responsible for providing rapid response to media concerns and preparing White House documents for release to the press and general public.

Whitley in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Building.

“I feel tremendously blessed that this door has opened for me,” Whitley said. “Even as a cock-eyed optimist in freshman English classes, I never thought I’d have the chance to write on behalf of the President. I am humbled at this great opportunity to serve my country.”

Since 2006, Whitley has performed media outreach for Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) – writing press releases, web content, speeches, and even jokes for Utah’s distinguished senior Senator. Whitley served as Hatch’s press assistant for 19 months and acting press secretary for eight months. In January, Whitley spent his vacation as a volunteer for Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign efforts in the Iowa Caucuses. He also blogged for the campaign at rapierwhit.blogspot.com.

Whitley aids Sen. Hatch at a press conference.

“My time in Sen. Hatch’s office was easily the best of my life,” Whitley said. “Working together with him and his staff left me enchanted and illusioned with government. Although Sen. Hatch has walked the corridors of power for years, he has never been corrupted by it.”

Before coming to Washington, Whitley was a newspaper reporter in Utah, winning eight awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He spent two years as the education editor at the Park Record in Park City and three years at The Daily Utah Chronicle in a variety of capacities, including as the news editor and as a humor columnist. Whitley graduated from the University of Utah in 2003 with degrees in English literature and German studies. He is a graduate of Utah’s Skyline High School.

# # #

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jared MouseKiller

Today I had the opportunity to exercise my ecclesiastical responsibilities as home teacher by killing a mouse that some girls found in their basement.

Of course I'm always delighted to help when I can, but I have very little experience when it comes to sending small, harmless vermin to their eternal reward.



Here's the poor, little guy. He had two paws free, you know. It looked like his back two paws were broken. Even if I were so inclined, I probably couldn't let him loose, because his death would be slow and agonizing.


Remembering the "News Radio" episode "Rat Funeral," I decided to employ a variety of tools, including a telephone book.

I wrapped the poor little guy up in some plastic bags...


...then I placed the telephone book over the bags...

...and slammed it three times with a snow shovel.

Bang. Dead mouse.

Fun way to start the morning -- and a much more exciting home teaching visit than just delivering the First Presidency message!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Lowered Expectations

As Rapier Whit struggles to find its voice in the post-Romney campaign world, I think it's important that we kick off the summer movie season with a little Indiana Jones preview.


Note the article in today's USA Today:

It begins:

"To hear him talk, you'd think George Lucas would have preferred to call his movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Don't Get Your Hopes Up."

To which I respond "ROTF LOL LMAO WMP."

Creator of Indiana Jones, George Lucas is resurrecting the beloved 80s icon for a new generation. There is an obvious parallel to draw between a new Indy flick and the Star Wars episodes 1, 2, and 3. Indeed a decade has now passed since the hype for "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace," which was both arguably and sadly the best of the Star Wars prequel movies.

(Note: I will write my diatribe on Star Wars eventually, probably when "Clone Wars" comes out.)

I was never a huge Indiana Jones fan. Sure, they're great, but - frak - I couldn't even get a quote from "Temple of Doom" on Jay's, "movie trivia Friday" a couple weeks ago, even though I'd watched "Temple of Doom" just a few days prior! Yeargh.

Anyway. So Lucas is trying to build hype while managing expectation. Sounds rough. Seems like the better thing to do would have been, oh I don't know, make a really great movie.

However, unlike the Star Wars prequels, Indy 4 has the tremendous advantage of bringing back both its star actor, Harrison Ford, and its star director, Stephen Spielberg. (Imagine the Star Wars prequels if Lucas had been able to tap Alec Guinness and Irvin Kershner?)

Ultimately, I don't really care if Indy 4 is as good as any of the original three. That's not what this movie is about. This movie will be pure nostalgia, both for the golden years of the best action hero since James Bond, and for the simplicity of a villain like the Soviets in the painfully complicated post-9/11 world we now live in.

However, given that Indy 4 is a nostalgia piece, what fills me with a sackcloth-and-ashes remorse about the film is the original cast members that won't be coming back. Obviously, we'd all like to see Connery return as Henry Jones, Sr., but that was perhaps too much to hope for.


But Lucas could - and should - have made a phone call to John Rhys Davies to return as Sallah. Given his success as Gimli in in the Lord of the Rings movies, and the inevitability that he will return as Gloin for the upcoming Hobbit movies, Davies is a star in his own right. Davies would have put bums in seats.

Moreover, the one thing that any possible concept of an "Indy: the later years" film needs - nay, demands - is to cast Jet Li as a grown-up Short Round.


C'mon. The price of admission would be worth watching Jet Li throw down some hard-core kung fu before saying, "Like I always said, Indy, you listen to me, you live longer!"


Alas, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" will have none of those three actors. It will have Karen Allen returning as Marian from "Raiders," but Karen Allen was never anything more than a poor man's Margot Kidder. (Look: Allen doesn't even merit a hyperlink to her Wikipedia entry.)

Furthermore, it doesn't appear that "Crystal Skull" will have any religious overtones. At its heart, the Indiana Jones mythology is about a mercenary treasure hunter who becomes a believer in Hinduism (Temple of Doom), Judaism (Raiders), and Christianity (Last Crusade). It's the strong religious overtone that makes the Indiana Jones trilogy _films_ rather than just movies.

But what would the next religion be for Dr. Jones to save/be saved by?

In the post 9/11 world, and especially coming from Spielberg, there's no way on Earth it would have been Islam. Buddhism perhaps, but I don't really see the Buddha throwing punches and cracking whips, though in the context of Tibetan occupation, "Indiana Jones and a The Three Jewels" would make a pretty compelling story.

How about... "Indiana Jones and the Lost City of Zarahemla"?

They could get Mitt Romney to make a cameo.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Insert creative Easter-related title here

I just came home from visiting "the fam" for Easter. Fool that I am, I flew into BWI. The plan arrived in the small hours of the night. The shuttle got me here more than two (2) hours after that. The driver refused to drive at an adequately fast speed. The other passengers needed to be hauled to these bizarre, out-of-the-way places (Gallaudet University, what the hell is that?).

If I ever buy a ticket out of BWI ever again, you are entitled to shoot me. In the brain.

Monday, March 17, 2008

March Madness

Anyone who reads this regularly or is remotely familiar with me knows that I am not a big sports fan.

However.

Dude.

March Madness.

Although I don't particularly care about the games, or even watch them if I can help it, I am the office March Madness fiend. If enthusiasm for bracketswere people, I'd be China.

I think that my love for March Madness starting in college. Again, not because I cared about college basketball, but because I felt like one of the "big kids" when the Chrony sports editor, Wally, invited me to participate in the paper's senior staff bracket competition. If memory serves, I did dreadful.

That love affair was rekindled recently, when I watched an episode of "The Office" where Kevin Malone references March Madness.

Go there you go. I always predict that
UNC will win, mainly because that's where a close relative went to grad school. Go Tar Heels!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Abandon Reason for Madness?: A Descent Into Cyber-bullying

I confess that I am an avid fan of the online networking sensation Facebook. With my two worlds divided between Utah and D.C., and with the social over-stimulus of the Colonial singles ward, I simply need an electronic aide to help me keep track of every one in my life. I simply have too many casual acquaintances to keep track of without the Internet. (There I said it.)

I love Facebook so muc, though, that I can't understand why any of my Colonial singles ward friends would eschew it. Even my friends who are married and with children are on Facebook! Hamma mamma.

Yet there are those who hold out, despite my relentless testimony-bearing of the merits of Facebook. In response, I took my first dive into "cyber-bullying" and created a Facebook group that "So and so Must Join Facebook Now." Within a week, it had 20 members.

Cyber-bullying... Have I abandoned reason for madness?

Monday, March 10, 2008

30

So I turned 30 on Friday. I guess it's one of those "milestone" ages that's supposed to be significant and prompt every manner of wistful rumination.

...

It really hasn't, though, and not because I'm too cool for school or any such thing, but mainly I went through my quarter-life WTF last year when I turned 29, so I've had a year to prepare for the big 3-0.

Now the countdown begins to 31, upon which I will be ejected from the singles ward. Krom!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

McCainiacs tremble?

According to the sleuthing at the NYT, McCain may or may not have had an affair with a lobbyist.

This is big news because if he's having trouble winning over a conservative Republican base, infidelity will not help him.

Sigh.

If only we Republicans had a candidate who'd been perfectly loyal to his wife of 38 years, his high school sweetheart? If only.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Brickbreaker memories

A friend emailed me this today, outlining his glory on the game "Brickbreaker" on his Blackberry. Enjoy!


It was glorious, simply glorious. When I finished the U for the second time, I had 28310 points and, so much more importantly, TWENTY-TWO lives. Four levels later, I had 33500 points (surpassing my old record of 33170) and still had 19 lives. Then (you knew this was coming at some point), I hit those levels which provide only a few points and have loads of obstacles and weird angles, where there is only one specific way of getting through. All of those challenges magnify many, many, many times when the whole edifice descends. The next level, 34060 points and down to 12 lives. Then the game ended with 34400 points, having expending those 12 precious lives for just 340 additional points. But the experience was exhilarating, one which (as I am doing now) I can tell to the willing and impose upon the resistant.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

White Horse Put Out to Pasture

So when I went to CPAC today during my lunch break, I was expecting to hear Mitt Romney deliver a magnificent, rabble-rousing speech that electrified the conservative base and gave Republicans in subsequent primaries a wake-up call as to his unrepudiated, perfect-haired awesomeness.

...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080207/ap_on_el_pr/romney

...

Alas.

I feel as though I have been left at the altar. By the entire country. The White Horse has been put to pasture.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mitt Takes Gold in Golden State

When I was a newspaper editor, one of my particular gifts was writing headlines. For example, I wrote a profile of a ski-slope reporter who had to get up ridiculously early (like 3:45 a.m.) to check the quality of the powder in Deer Valley. His name was Jim Miles. My headline? "Miles to Go Before I Sleep."

Headlines were the strawberries in my cream.

So I don't really write many headlines nowadays, but let me make a suggestion for tomorrow morning's LA Times:

"Mitt Takes Gold in Golden State."

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Bowl Super Tuesday

By nature, I am not a sports fan. If I'm going to have a sporting event on in the background, chances are it's for ironic value, or it's a Utah Jazz game and it's 1997.

However.

Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday and a guy in my ward invited me to a Super Bowl party, so of course I was going to attend. Granted, I spent most of the time reading a copy of "The Economist" and talking to friends about Super Tuesday, but still -- at least I was there.

So waking up this morning, I felt like I had done my due diligence as an American. I expected to get a recap of the game when I picked up my morning "Post Express" today, and I was a little disappointed that the editors of the front page had dedicated more space to what is essentially an ad for the Obama campaign than to the Super Bowl.



I do not usually go into the whole "liberal media" bashing that is extant amongst so many conservative bloggers. However, as a former journalist, I understand that some days, it's not a newspaper, it's a sportspaper. Monday after the Super Bowl is certainly one of those days. But the chowderheads who did the Post Express decided it was a better opportunity to blow yet ANOTHER kiss to a candidate who's high on bloviation, but low on substance.

I am astonished, and impressed, however, that The New York Times gave the right amount of front-page game v. campaign coverage.


(Of course, that may be because the Giants won, but I'll take it where I can get it.)

Friday, February 1, 2008

No Wisecrack Required

This is from today's New York Times from the Democratic debate last night.


If I were a really capable blogger, I'd have the music to REM's "Shiny Happy People" streaming right now. Alas that I am not that capable.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Romney Loves America, But Amercia Just Wants to Be Friends

I am, by nature, a cautiously optimistic man. It takes more than a bloody nose to make me think I'm going to lose a fight.

(Although, to be fair, given my preternatural agility and Gaius Baltar-like sense of self-preservation, I probably would win the fight by running away.)

So when the former Governor of Massachusetts takes silver medals in Iowa and New Hampshire, I remained cautiously optimistic that he, as the best qualified person to lead the country, would overcome those two road bumps and still end up, y'know, leading the country.

He carried the torch for us; I still carry a torch for him.
(In a non-gay way, natch.)


Alas. Alas. Alas.

The situation does not look as bright for Mitt Romney in the post-Florida, pre-Super Tuesday world as it had if the Florida Republican Party were populated by fewer veterans and, say, more LDS venture capitalists.

Now, this is not the end for Gov. Romney. It might be the beginning of the end, but it is certainly not the end. I vividly recall in the 1992 campaign when, after a few losses, Bill Clinton declared that his campaign's situation was no "Kobayashi Maru" and that he still expected to win. (I don't know if Clinton actually said it, but I vaguely recall that he might have done. If any of you find hard evidence of such a speech on the Interweb, send me a link.)

I hope that Mitt Romney will soon be able to enjoy a victory similar to the one Bill Clinton predicted for himself in 1992. Despite the ravenous frenzy over Florida, let's remember the Chuck-a-rama-like buffet of delegates that candidates can gorge themselves on next Tuesday.




Certainly, McCain has an edge going into the fiesta of 21 state primaries, but Romney has a better national organization, more money, and a better haircut. I choose to remain cautiously optimistic.

However, if recent polling data is to be trusted, Mitt Romney could be conceding on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, despite the faith-in-every-footstep political hoop-dreams of the BYU College Republicans.

Next week, we might learn that, no matter how much Mitt Romney loves America, America might want to be just friends.

A situation we've all been in, to one extent or another, mate. But also one that totally, totally sucks.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ouch

OK. The networks just called Florida for McCain...so, uh, disregard the Sun(shine State) is Rising post.

...

Hey, but Utah's next week!!!

The Sun(shine State) Is Rising

You remember that scene at the end of "Two Towers" when Gimli says, all full of hope and optimism, "The sun is rising."



(Sorry, couldn't find video on YouTube so we have to settle for a still.)

I imagine, wherever that lovable dwarf is tomorrow morning, he'll be saying to the Romney campaign, "The Sun(shine State) is rising."

Go Team MITT!!!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Florida Dreaming, on Such a Winter's Day

This weekend my roommate, PM, went to Florida to help campaign for Romney before Tuesday's big primary. He called last night to say he didn't want to brag that he was campaigning in 70 degree weather and staying at some place near the beach whereas my campaigning experience was in darkest Iowa with -70 degree weather.

He sent me this video of our friends, SJ and MM, who are also down in Florida. Ah, if only I were there. But tonight is the SOTU from the POTUS, so it's probably more important for me to stay here in D.C.
video

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rapier Whit -- behind the scenes?

So a lot of you have emailed to ask me something along the following lines:

"Jared, I love Rapier Whit. But I can't help but wonder, what do your co-workers think of this?"

Excellent question. As a "Hill rat" in a thriving Capitol Hill office, obviously, the subject of politics comes up every now and again. Thankfully, my coworkers and superiors have been supportive, nay, encouraging, of my random, vaguely Romney-related blogging. I think I helped win Rapier Whit some street cred when, whilst in Iowa, I was able to get links from Utah Policy Daily, the premiere website for Utah news junkies. (And who among us, frankly, isn't such an junkie?)

Anyway.

Several co-workers have commented on my need to explain the blog name. When I told one friend in the office about the blog, she scolded, "Rape your wit? Jared!"

...

But I'm reasonably optimistic she was just teasing me.

The term "Rapier Whit" is a reference to the fencing sword of the same name, and then a clever, albeit obvious, play on my last name. ("Whitley" = "Witty"; "Whit = "Wit")

Inigo Montoya: You are using Bonetti's Defense against me, ah?
Man in Black : I thought it fitting considering the rocky terrain.



One co-worker today told me he thought my writing was more like "squeegee whit" than "rapier whit." I guess he figures a squeegee, while technically bladed, is not particularly sharp. Ha ha. This is the same co-worker, however, is the one with whom I have - perhaps unwisely - made a wager that Mitt Romney will beat John McCain in McCain's home state of Arizona. So he might be entitled to denigrate my mental powers.

MLK Day in the Luray

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

I have not updated said blog for a while. It saddens me. This last weekend, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, I had planned on spending my three-day weekend in South Carolina to campaign for Mitt. But that would have been, like, a 12 hour bus ride one way and that seemed like a lot of effort for very little pay-off, especially since the primary was on Saturday, so having another two days to spend there would have been reasonably moot.

Instead I went to the Luray Caverns with some friends of mine. I supported Gov. Romney's bid by visiting the largest caves in the commonwealth of Virginia.

This is a picture of a positively breath-taking section of the cave interior. There's this pool of water, clear as glass, a veritable Mirrormere, that reflects the image of the stalactites. The picture does not do it justice, alas.

This is yours truly toward the end of the cave experience.

Would my MLKJ Day have been better spent elsewhere, in the service of Mitt? Perhaps, but in another, more accurate way, I think I can help Mitt better by maintaining a well-recreated persona and an extremely casual blog.

Moreover, on the way there, my friend Maria made us repeatedly listen to this delightful piece of Latin invasion music. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wolverine State: "I was born ready"

A few years ago, I decided to memorize all the nicknames for these United States. Allow me to say that this small act has reaped huge benefits. Example of a conversation that may or may not have happened with one of my fellow Hill staffers:

Stranger: "Hi, I'm from Tennessee."
Me: "Oh, the Volunteer State?"
S: "Yes! How did you know that?"
M: "Well, Tennessee sent more volunteers for the Revolutionary War than anywhere else, right?"
S: "Actually, I think it was the War of 1812, but I'm impressed you knew that!"

That being said, I knew instantly when Mitt Romney won the state of Michigan yesterday that he had conquered in the Wolverine State. It was so nicknamed because of a booming trade in wolverine hunting and trapping in the early 19th Century. (If I'm wrong, tell me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan.)


So as far as I can tell, as the winner of the Wolverine State, Mitt Romney is just as cool as X-Men super-star, Wolverine.


As a youth, reading X-Men comic books, I vividly recall Wolverine's hard-boiled catch-phrases like, "I was born ready."

I think when it comes to Presidential politics, someone like Mitt Romney was "born ready."

...

Or, if he wasn't, at least his extensive resume qualifies him for the job. Still. That wouldn't sound particularly tough in a comic book:

Storm: "Wolverine, are you ready?"
Wolverine: "I was born ready!"

vs.

Storm: "Wolverine, are you ready?"
Wolverine: "My extensive resume qualifies me for the job."

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Like a Phoenix out of Arizona...

While reading this article today in the Wall Street Journal, the thought came to me, "John McCain has risen like a Phoenix out of Arizona!"

I thought it was clever. So did my roommate. I didn't have the heart to tell him I got the line from this episode of "Seinfeld" from 10 years ago.

Still. My administration maintains its policy that this was clever.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Silver Medal

My first exposure to the phenomenon of the Iowa caucus was when, as a youth, I read about Bill the Cat and Opus the Penguin's quixotic presidential campaign in the comic strip Bloom County. Last night I had my chance to sample said caucuses first hand as I attended one in Urbandale, Iowa.





The precinct captains prepared the church where the Iowans caucused for 150 voters, but more than 200 people came. One of the parishioners joked, "If only we could get this many on Sunday."

After saying the Pledge of Allegiance (remember, it's a Republican caucus), individuals rose to pitch the case for their respective candidates. For Mitt Romney, a recent graduate of the University of Iowa rose to voice her support.

"Mitt Romney was the only conservative I've seen with the guts to step onto the [notoriously liberal] University of Iowa," she said. "When I heard him speak, I knew he was presidential material."

Romney won the Urbandale 4 precinct, which was a fun thrill for the campaign volunteers who attended to watch. However, the news on the radio as we drove to the Romney "victory" party told a different tale.





Alas it appeared that the Evangelical vote in Iowa favored a former Baptist minister over an Olympic hero/financial genius. The attitude at the Romney after-party was optimistic, however, as Mitt told us, "Well, we got the silver medal!" and noted that he still planned to win the gold in the final heat. (As chance would have it, there are - in fact - 49 more heats. So one loss shouldn't mean too much.) A silver lining indeed.

And so my Iowa caucus 2008 experience comes to a conclusion. I'm cautiously optimistic about the primaries that still lie ahead of Mitt Romney. Frankly, my main disappointed was that my illness this week curtailed any efforts I might have had at chatting up any of the young ladies from Romney's organization who were in Des Moines with me this week.

...

For their part, however, the young ladies were probably OK with that. :)

...This call paid for by Romney for President

One of the beauties of campaigns, I am learning, is the atmosphere of togetherness among volunteers. It's the kind of unity you find in combat units or major league sports teams. And an easy way to make them all cheer is the phrase, "...the next President of the United States of America!" Works every time.




Today we had the pleasure of a visit from Josh Romney, one of Mitt's and Ann's sons, who visited each of Iowa's 99 counties this last year. That's quite a herculean feat methinks.



A lot of people weren't answering phone calls today, so we just had to leave messages. I have finished so many phone calls this week with, "This call paid for by Romney for President" that I need to be careful I don't start finishing normal conversations with it. It makes sense that, with about a dozen people vying for POTUS, Iowans might not be so eager to answer their phones today.

Just a few hours until go time...

Vote for Mitt song

This delightful family from Ohio came in with this "Vote for Mitt" song they'd written. They make a magnificent hextet, and they blending when they harmonize at the end is splendid.


video

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

All Caucus Eve


While technically every nanosecond of time becomes a moment of history as soon as it elapses, there are certain times that feel, for lack of a better phrase, more historic than others. Surely the eve of the Iowa caucus in a primary season which is wide open qualifies as such a time.

Tonight Mitt spoke to his supports on this All Caucus Eve here in Des Moines.

















(
Again, sorry I didn't bring my real camera today. I promise to tomorrow.)

Mitt was introduced tonight by Olympic gold medal-winning speed skater Dan Jansen, who told us he knew that the 2002 Olympics would be successful as soon as he met Mitt. For himself, the former SLOC President expressed considerable modesty about his Olympic legacy. He asked the crowd, "Did I turn around the Olympics singlehandedly? No! Of course I didn't," but he explained that he knew how to bring together and organize the people who turned the Games around.

Romney likewise touted his success in the private sector - 25 years as a world-class (my term) financier and manager - as one of the attributes that makes him most qualified to lead the country. He also shared a tender moment from his time as governor when he was asked to meet a Massachusetts soldier at the airport who was returning home from Iraq -- but not as a passenger, in a coffin. Romney talked about his family and introduced all of his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law to the crowd. He shared his father's rags to riches story. He told us that, contrary to what some $400 haircut candidates says, there aren't two Americas, there's one America: Southern values are the same as Yankee values, which are the same as Midwest values, and so forth -- values like hard work, faith, commitment to family, and love of this country.

He finished by telling the crowd, "I'm asking for your help and your hands and your vote." Then he joked, "And if you can, vote multiple times."

F"Ann"tastic visits

So I woke up today feeling reasonably ill. I don't know if it's the cold weather, the hard work, or the lingering contagion of Olympic Fever that seems to trail Mitt, but I am not feeling terrific. On any other day I would have stayed in bed. But I flew out here at my own expense and I wanted to make sure Team Mitt got my money's worth out of me. So I manned up, made a run to Walgreens with my host family, and came in.

Today was mainly a frenzy of data entry relating to precinct information across Iowa's 99 counties. We also had some visits from some VIPs. Former Senator Jim Talent (of Missouri), who said that Romney could dictate the course of U.S. politics for the next 20 or 30 years the way Reagan has done...

















And the future First Lady of the United States of America (or FLUSA), Anny Romney herself...

















Mrs. Romney is, pardon the rather unimaginative pun, "Ann"tastic. She told us she hoped that she could be as good a friend to us as we have been to her family. She was enthusiastic and kind and spoke personally to everyone here at the campaign HQ who wanted to speak with her.

However, regrettably, I didn't bring my camera today as - feeling under the weather as I have done - I didn't make a priority of bringing it. So you'll have to content yourself with these so-so pics from my cell phone. Still, quite exciting this computer magic.

WTOP!

So yesterday a reporter from WTOP recorded me as I was making phone calls for Mitt. Apparently it was aired this morning. I missed it, but my roommate, Dave, called me to tell me he heard it and how awesome it was to hear me on the radio. Alas that I missed it! How I would have cherished the chance to post a link of my saying, "This phone call paid for by Romney for President."

But here's some WTOP news on Iowa if you're interested nonetheless.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Phone Blitzkrieg

With the dawn of the new year, so too comes intensified efforts for capturing the Iowa caucus. Today my contribution to Gov. Romney’s campaign was calling dozens upon dozens of people in the greater Des Moines area to invite them to attend their caucus on Thursday night and vote for Mitt.








I must say that, as a people, the Iowans are remarkably patient with phone calls from Presidential campaigns. In a season such as this, these folks doubtlessly get pounded relentlessly with political phone calls. What surprises me is how cheerfully they receive said calls. Most of the people I spoke to today were good natured, eager to talk, and remarkably open to political pitches from complete strangers. It’s as though they understand the mantle that they carry as Iowans in making the first lever-pull of the Presidential season. The eyes of the nation are upon them and they don’t seem to mind the attention.









Although many have already made up their minds, many Iowans made comments such as, “I don’t know who I’m supporting. I’ll make up my mind on Thursday, but thanks for the call.” Not one person I spoke to today rose the issue of Romney’s Mormon faith, but one person told me he supported the Governor because he wasn’t a Southern Evangelical. One woman told me she was still praying who to vote for. One person told me a political speech was like a big-horned bull: a point at one end and another point at the opposite end, and nothing but bull in between. And at one point today I think someone accidentally called me “Brother Whitley,” which made me grin.

Today’s phone blitzkrieg was a fun experience. My throat is a little sore and scratchy.

At least I didn’t have to spend much time out in the icy, frozen tundra of Iowa’s bleak midwinter, but I plan to on Wednesday or Thursday. I know many went door to door to augment the campaign’s phone outreach. I didn’t go door to door, but I plan to tomorrow or Thursday. I haven’t gone door to door for a while, but much like riding the proverbial bike, one imagine the skills come right back.

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