Sunday, October 12, 2008

Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love

After making this town my home for over 20 years, I can attest that Philadelphia is a city of contrasts in many ways. There is extreme wealth and devastating poverty, an abundance of excellent schools of higher learning alongside some of the worst public schools in the nation, as well as diversity at its best and worst in adjoining neighborhoods.

The political scene this week-end in Philly showed yet another contrast. On Saturday, Barack Obama did a series of stops in Philadelphia. As the Inky reported, Thousands cheer Obama at four Phila. stops:

Yesterday, thousands of African Americans and other Philadelphians got to see and hear the Democratic presidential candidate.

On a warm and cloudless Saturday, Obama did something he had never done before in the campaign - make four consecutive stops in the same city, stumping mostly in black neighborhoods.

He started in North Philadelphia at 8:15 in the morning, then hit Mayfair, Germantown and finally West Philadelphia in early afternoon. He'd done two fund-raisers in the city on Friday.

That he would devote so much time to Philadelphia at this point made perfect sense. In the world of presidential politics, where New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Phoenix are in noncompetitive states, this is the biggest city that matters.

And with three weeks left before Election Day, it was time to stir the urban faithful.

Supporters turned out by the thousands, an estimated 20,000 in West Philadelphia alone. They cheered his speeches and jumped for joy as his motorcade passed.

Unlike the haters that flock to McCain rallies, the Obama crowd was filled with happy and enthusiastic supporters, see On The Scene At Barack Obama's Philadelphia Rally, with crowds estimated to be in the range of 60,000. Riding high, Obama nods to McCain, rallies fans.

In contrast to this, of course, was the reception that greeted "hockey mom" Sarah Palin's trek through Philly to throw the hockey puck at the Flyers opening game last night. As The E&P Pub notes, 'Hockey Mom' Palin Booed -- At Hockey Game:
Lynn Zinser at her NYT hockey 'Slapshot' blog just posted that Sarah Palin, in her much-ballyhooed appearance dropping the puck at the Philly Flyers' opener, was greeted by 'resounding (almost deafening) boos from the Flyers crowd.'
The Poltico adds, Booed on the ice:

The Times hockey blog says the boos were "resounding." The Wilmington paper says it was an "avalanche."

The booing of Palin (and her young daughter) was also predicted by sports types who spoke to my colleague Ken Vogel before the game.

“I am surprised that the candidate would go on the ice in Philly — Philly fans threw snowballs at Santa Claus and booed Beyonce(*) because she was wearing a Michael Jordan dress," said Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals, a conference rival of the Flyers. "This is dangerous territory.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a former Philly mayor and big fan of the town’s sports teams, also said before the game he didn’t think the puck-drop was a good idea.

“Sports and politics, I believe, never mix,” Rendell told Politico after introducing Barack Obama at a North Philadelphia rally.
In an effort to downplay the jeering of the crowd, the arena turned up the music and, Jonathan Valencia of Phawker observes that "[i]t has also been suggested that pre-recorded cheers were piped in over the PA," HOCKEY BOMB: Palin Roundly Booed By Flyers Fans.

The final contrast is that the Inquirer's description of the boo level was muted, to say the least, Palin drops puck at Philadelphia Flyers' game:
To a mixture of boos and cheers, Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin dropped the ceremonial first puck Saturday night at the Philadelphia Flyers' home opener against the New York Rangers.

The Alaska governor and self-described 'hockey mom' heard a few boos when she walked onto the ice, but that soon turned to polite applause as she headed to center ice with Mike Richards of the Flyers and Scott Gomez , from Alaska , of the Rangers.

Palin waved to the crowd and smiled as she dropped the puck to applause and cheers. (Emphasis added).
(For a photo montage of Obama's sprint through Philly, see Daily Kos)

UPDATE (10/14): Perhaps the appropriate term for Palin should be "worst mom" rather than "hockey mom." She decided to take her daughters with her on the ice because she thought it might lessen the boo level she would receive from fans at the Flyers game. See Palin greeted with "resounding boos" at Philly hockey game, FOX edits it out. That's right. She used her own kids as shields. Boo to you, Sarah!

Also, Suburban Guerilla has a non-filtered video with the sound of boos coming through loud and clear.

No comments: