Lately here we've discussed reasons people still attend speeches when they could be under the covers, Snapchatting. For handshakes and hugs, I said last month.
I'm going to one and maybe two speeches next week, for those very reasons:
1. I'm seeing David Axelrod at the Chicago City Club Monday for a handshake.
Though I have no reason to expect that Axelrod will say anything at the City Club that he hasn't said a million times on MSNBC, a private event offers that fond possibility. But either way, going to see the big guy in person makes me a big guy myself—an insider, by definition. I once saw James Carville speak at a conference, and I've dined out on the story for years, partly because it's a decent story but partly because I saw it in person. You can't dine out on a story that begins, "I was watching C-SPAN one night …" So I guess I'm hoping Axelrod gives me some stuff to dine out on. And even if he doesn't have a clear view of the future—well, Axe and me both.
2. I'm hoping to see President Obama's farewell speech on Tuesday night for a hug.
Yes, the editor and publisher of Vital Speeches of the Day is lowering himself to stand in line with a lot of jamokes at Chicago's McCormick Place on Saturday in hopes of getting a golden ticket to see the speech on Tuesday night. Why? Professionally, because I want to cover the mood in the room and the utterings of the people around me, the way I was able to do last summer during the Trump speech at the Republican National Convention. Personally, I think I'm looking forward to taking in the speech with a few friends and with some thousands of Chicago Democrat strangers who will feel like friends—maybe not just for the moment, but maybe, in my mind, for a long time. How long a time—and how substantive our bond—will rely on the words Obama says and the way in which he gets them across. Will we walk out with just a feeling—group nostalgia for 2008?—or will we share an idea, and a few unforgettable words that will hold that idea together in a group mind.
So I'm going to see Axelrod for a handshake, and Obama, if the lines aren't too long (and out the door into the frigid Chicago lakefront air), for a group hug.
I'll let you know how it goes.