Notes on a Hillary Concession

Outside, in line, BOILING. 11:22 a.m.

"Lanny, what now?" reporters ask Lanny Davis one by one. "We’re going to take the White House" is his talking point today.

And here’s a reporter who’s been covering Hillary for the whole shebang. What’s next for him? "Gonna take a week off."

Inside. There are 10 American flags in the room, six of them on the stage around the podium where she will speak. It’s Mark Penn’s strategy come at last to full flower, too late.

One-quarter of the floor space is unused, cordoned off.

I talk with two women reporters who are down from New York. One just bought a new blouse at Union Station because she didn’t think hers was dressy enough. The other is upset because she hasn’t put on makeup yet and she is 35. These women are both self-described feminists.

The standard bleachers-thing is set up in the far distance behind where the former candidate will speak, to show up on TV. One older woman, who is nearly completely inaudible in the horrible acoustics and music of the room, has plunked down a chair next to the bleachers: "Well I just picked up my chair and moved it over here." She moved to D.C. when her husband left The New York Times a long time ago. Ooh, The Times, good paper. "It used to be much better," she said. Well, I won’t tell them that to their faces. "Oh, I will," she said. So? She was for Hillary and now? "I guess I’m for Obama," she said, without any great enthusiasm, which I heard repeatedly from people. They’re in, but you know, they’re DEMOCRATS. So she doesn’t hold an Obama grudge? "I’m more concerned about the country."

"Are you properly independent and neutral?" she asked. Me? Oh no! But I don’t believe in mixing and matching. "Good."

Then Terry McAuliffe entered the area between the bleachers and the stage, accompanied by his assistant, who is a slighly funky dresser and is constantly tapping at her BlackBerry with her weird emerald-blue nail polish. People slowly begin to notice that he is here and he gets more and more applause, people standing up in the bleachers, clapping, and he keeps putting up his arms like a champion boxer, posing for lots of pictures. The man of the hour! "She’ll be back" he says to no one in particular. He looks a little sheepish because this is really going on for quite some time.

One of the people with whom he posed for pictures is Michael "Mike" Michener. Is he a donor to HRC? "Oh yeah, I’ve given." So, well, let’s be blunt: The Clinton campaign ended up with a mountain of debt and she is not the nominee for president. So do we think Terry did a good job? "Yeah, I think he did. She raised an amazing amount of money. She raised a record amount of money. I think he did a great job." Okay, so will you give to Obama? "Yes, I will." Why? "I’m a partisan." And are you in favor of her for the VP slot? "Very much. I would love to see her on the ticket–but it’s Obama’s decision. I’m not one of those people pushing it…." Should Obama take Terry into his organization? "Yeah. He was head of the party–he was amazing. Sure! Everybody Hillary brings along with her–she’s got an amazing cadre."

Holy shit. There’s Matt Drudge. In person. In D.C. With Glover Park Group’s Tracy Sefl. (Sefl featured in the NYT article last year about how Clinton + Drudge = Internet heaven.) Tracy’s Facebook friends include Ana Marie Cox and Mike Allen!

Matt Drudge is wearing a brown Munsen Wear polo shirt and a bulging upper body. He keeps his wallet in his back pocket, it seems.

This HRC event took place after a 5K Race For the Cure so there are lots of women in breast-cancer-pink, some of whom have shirts that declare them to be a "Survivor." The race started at 8 a.m. and it was hot as hell. "I ran faster than I’ve ever run before," said one nearly faint woman. And who is she voting for come November? "I guess Obama. Well, I’m not voting for a Republican!"

12:34: Ben Smith is talking to Matt Drudge.

Off to the inaccessible side of the stage where the candidate and her family will stand, Anthony Wiener darts by like a dachshund after a rat before disappearing behind a black-glass door into a holding room.

HRC enters.

HRC: "See, you can be anything you want to be." UM, EXCEPT WHEN YOU CAN’T, APPARENTLY.

Behind HRC, above the bleachers, hang two MASSIVE American flags. Unfortunately, they block people’s view on the balcony, so the one to Hillary’s right (and the TV camera’s left) was being pulled aside in the middle so people could peer down at the back of Hillary’s head. A staffer goes up to ask them not to. Then he comes back to the main floor–and they’re doing it again. "PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE" he shout-whispers up at them, gesturing psychotically. They let the flag fall back into place, and stand, apparently, blindly behind it.

The first endorsement of Obama gets most of the people clapping. Two staffers are holding on to each other for dear life. At 12:57 HRC attempts to do some salvage work on Bill’s reputation.

1:05 p.m. "If we can launch 50 women into space …" she says. HAHAHA, that is the setup to my favorite joke! Then why not ALL OF THEM?

Look, there’s Glenn Thrush, longtime, massively dedicated Hillary Clinton reporter for Newsday. What now, Glenn Thrush? "Chuck Schumer will be covered by Newsday again." Notes on a Hillary Concession