Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Thought About The Obama/Biden Veep Pick

Now that Obama's gone ahead and announced that Joe Biden is his running mate, everyone's talking about what this means for the ticket, whether they can set aside their differences from the primaries, whether McCain's pick will be some sort of response, etc., etc. Because my brain is diseased, though, I'm thinking about something completely different.

The big story this week has been not so much the announcement of Obama's running mate, but the fact that Obama kept that information so close to his vest for so long. (This, by the way, is a perfect example of the absurdities the 24-hour news cycle creates: Because the news networks had no actual content for the story, they spent a week of airtime discussing how and why they had no actual content for the story. Well, that and which Olympic swimmers are and are not fucking.) Looking at it from that perspective, Obama and his team did a great job of managing that information. But there's one thing I can't help wondering about.

According to the news reports I've seen, Obama made the offer to Biden Thursday night. It follows that Biden cannot have been the official running mate until Thursday night. (I mean, he might have said no.) Now, the convention begins Monday morning. Already, Democrats are filling up Denver hotels, and preparation of the venue has likely been going on all week, at least. And a large part of this preparation has to have been the arranging for the production and distribution of various campaign gewgaws. Hats, buttons, lapel pins, bumper stickers, banners, hand pennants, maybe some of those giant foam fingers, I don't know. Suffice to say a shitload of blue ink has been slung around.

But, and this is where my brain goes off into its own special universe, until Thursday night, nobody knew what the printing on those gewgaws was going to say. They might have had a good idea, and certainly somebody must have done the number crunching and decided how much of everything they were going to order, but the order can't have been finalized until they were sure it was all going to read "Obama/Biden." (You have to figure they went with the last names, because "Barack & Joe" sounds like a terrible sitcom on TBS. Which is somewhat redundant, but I digress.)

That's just how the printing business works: They don't start making it until you tell them exactly what you want. And changing your mind costs money, so you try your damnedest to only tell them exactly what you want once. So, sometime Thursday night, at least one print shop in the Denver area, and probably more, became the custodian of what was, at that time, the most valuable piece of informational currency in the United States.

I can't help but wonder how they maintained the crackdown. I mean, getting a bunch of professional political operatives to keep a secret is hard enough, but rank-and-file, minimum wage employees are something else. Shit, these are the exact kind of people who keep Rich Johnston in business. You gotta figure there was some guy running off sheet after sheet of bumper stickers, dying to text his buddies about it, or maybe some cute Young Democrat he met at a bar last night, to fulfill the ancient human urge to point a finger and chant, "I know something you don't know."

Did they have Secret Service guys keeping tabs on the print shops? Or dump a huge check in the shop owner's lap and say, "Tell everyone to take a vacation?" Or maybe they made a bunch of simultaneous, fake orders to throw people off. Probably not that one; it'd cost too much money. Actually, they probably just did what millions of hopeful Democrats were doing all week: Crossed their fingers and hope the whole thing didn't turn into some big logistical clusterfuck.

It's probably these kind of thoughts that kept me out of Yale.

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