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Monday, 3 September 2007
The Campaign Train Stops For The Night In New Orleans

When they arrived in New Orleans, the candidates and their small staff were ready for bed. In Mississippi they had spoken to enthusiastic crowds, and listened to "Mississippi Mud." Passing below Arkansas, the candidates -- or those who were awake -- attempted an Armstrongesque version of "I'm A Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas." And now they were entering Louisiana, and fabled, fated New Orleans. But it was now night. Like Sinbad the Sailor and Tinbad the Tailer and Winbad the Whaler, they needed to sleep, god how they needed to sleep. Some needed it more than others. Elmo was apparently able to sleep through just about everything. For the others though, it was blissful not to hear the sound of those wheels rumbling through the night, and the whistle blowing at the approach of every crossing. Everyone was soon asleep, thinking of the crowds they hoped that would turn out to greet them the next day, and listen to their story, listen to some straight talk. And they were not disappointed. The next morning. they awoke to find a vast sea of faces, for people had come from all over, from as far away as New Iberia, and Baton Rouge, to Nawlins to see them.

And instead of waiting to be crooned to with the usual Bourbon Street Blues, they showed what they were made of, musically and linguistically, by doing their own rendition -- one of the candidates even showed his sudden mastery of the frottoir and of Cajun French -- as they did their own version of a song made famous by Clifton Chenier:

The crowd went wild, and stayed to listen -- most intently -- to their speeches, about the collapse of American education, about Tarbaby Iraq and the Jihad, about climate change and why one should not be hopefully oblivious to it in making plans for a revival of New Orleans -- truth-telling even when it hurt -- about everything of importance. It was a relief for everyone: for the candidates to speak directly, and for the audience to hear, at long last, no nonsense, but sober analysis, delivered with just the right amount of intermittent comic relief.  There was only one slight mishap, when Elmo's running-mate accidentally referred to Clifton Chenier as "André Chenier" -- but no one seemed to notice, nobody seemed to mind. The good times were rolling, because for once someone was not shying away from discussing the bad times, and what might be done to make things more rather than less bearable, to mitigate, ameliorate, improve what had recently past, or was passing, or to come.

So despite or possibly because of the relentless truth-telling by the candidates, a good time was had by all, and with those good times still rolling, the seasoned campaigners made their way across the city to the railroad station on the other side, and got on board. And the train whistle blew. They were heading toward Texas, toward deep in the heart of Texas.  

Posted on 09/03/2007 2:53 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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