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The Roll Call's Catharsis

I wandered onto the floor of the convention around 4:00 this afternoon, right around the time the afternoon's much-anticipated roll call vote began. The convention floor's aisles teem with incredible hostility -- each candidate's floor "whips," dudded in chartreuse (Obama) and orange (Clinton) safety vests, are endlessly tugging at you and insisting you stop standing in front of their delegates, turning non-delegates into human sparrows, doomed to never stop moving -- so I randomly scoped out an empty delegate seat in what I thought was Arizona's section, turned my credential over so you couldn't see "press," and squeezed in. Minutes later, my section was thronged with rowdy delegates and the Secret Service had closed off the aisles all around me. This wasn't Arizona -- turns out I had ended up in the midst of New York.

For thirty minutes tension grew in my section (Georgia announced its votes ... then Iowa ... then New Hampshire ...). Finally, dressed in regal blue, Hillary swept in in a monarchic train, her way pre-cleared by the Secret Service, trailed by ten or twelve New York big machers, including a grinning Chuck Schumer. Later, somebody told me the TV networks were reporting ahead of time that Hillary would stop the roll call and move to nominate Obama by acclamation, but few inside the hall knew that, and as she said those words, two women standing behind me burst into noisy tears. Others beside and in front of me also began weeping. A burly delegate wearing Obama pins reached around, offering everybody hugs.

The day I got to Denver, I wrote that I was skeptical a roll call vote could provide delegates the "catharsis" they were looking for. Who knows how it'll shake out over time, but it sure was cathartic in my little New York bubble.

--Eve Fairbanks