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View from the cheap seats

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At 7:30 a.m., I was nearly first in line for Sen. Hillary Clinton's 9 a.m. speech at Wake Tech, and chatted with a clerk from the college. I recognized the bigwig passing out stickers as the one parked next to me who had ignored my "Good morning." Another unfriendly politico frequently crossed our line, pushing us out of her way.

At 9 a.m., we endured an airport screening as reporters fished for sound bites.

"Is this the most exciting thing that has ever happened to you??"

Well, no, there was the birth of my child, and my trip to ...

Disappointed to find the first six rows "reserved for Wake Tech," and another six rows next to the stage reserved, we grabbed the first available seats.

My friend asked a faculty big shot in the first row if she could move up, but was told the seats were "for the important people of the college."

"It's all right," she assured me. "I don't really mind. I'd go up there if I really wanted to."

The next rumored start time was 10:30 a.m. The packed crowd stressed over delayed schedules, derrieres aching, bladders at capacity and temperature rising, as an annoying campaign bigwig trotted around saying, "When it's 90 degrees in here, we'll start!"

We were not amused. Someone shouted, "Hey! We're all sitting on the fence here! If it doesn't start soon we might jump down on the other side!" Cheers erupted from the audience.

One hour later, the campaign clown joked that it was 87.5 degrees. I was ready to leave, but someone said that she was coming in. Ten minutes later, a dozen locals strolled in, taking the reserved seats.

"They've been out to meet Hillary," the clerk informed me. "Now that she's met the important people, we'll start."

I fondly recalled the Kerry/Edwards rally where we had free choice and the few entourage seats were over on the side.

At 11:40, Senator Clinton started speaking, no explanation or apology offered for the delay. My friend whispered, "If you apply for a job, you'd better be on time; she's applying for the biggest job there is."

Clinton gave a great 40-minute speech, no questions taken, and hurried out, probably to the next event.

But the evening news featured an "exclusive" interview, presumably given afterward. The anchor mentioned that "Mrs." Clinton (Mrs.??) was a "few hours behind schedule" and that "No one seemed to mind." Maybe he didn't mind: He was getting paid for it, had an understanding boss, no kids to pick up and a front row seat.

Flipping the channel, I saw the senator giving another leisurely "exclusive" interview. Both "exclusives" were rehashes. I pitied the people at her later stops and thought that I had wasted my time.

But then I decided that I should see Sen. Barack Obama, too; maybe I just don't understand how things work in Washington.

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