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Your Man in Manchester, pt. 2

One should never base impressions of a place on the hotel, or the place where it’s located, but of course we do exactly that. New York? Gah, hated it. Stayed at the Edison, found a heroin addict under my bed, complained to management, they did NOTHING. One star for the entire teeming metropolis. I’m staying on a commercial strip in Manchester, and it’s one of those godless expanses with a Pep Boys and a Petco and a Taco Bell and a CVS and a ceaseless stream of cars that make crossing the street the equivalent of running across a field occupied by two armies bent on engagement.  

Looking for Local Color, I walked to the Mall of New Hampshire, an utterly ordinary place with all the usual stores, a food court where the “Cajun Grill” serves nothing but Asian food, and you sit in a small area listening to children shriek in the walled-off play area while TV screens overhead show fireworks blowing out of Katy Perry’s bosom. (Apparently they are not spectacular enough as is.) There were two youts at an adjacent table eating Dunkin’  Donuts – there are, by my count, four places serving Dunkin’ Donuts within three minutes of my hotel – and I asked if they were excited that their state was the center of national attention because of the primary. One, a young fellow whose entire face seemed devoted to putting forth his nose as his most memorable characteristic,  said he “wasn’t into politics,” and the other, a birdy little guy who possibly believed his wispy facial hair imputed a certain amount of menace,  said nothing, staring at the mesmerizing revelations displayed on his cellphone screen.

“How about Ron Paul?” I said. “He wants to legalize weed.” 

“Which one is he?” said Cellphone Boy, suddenly aware that he might have a ferret in this fight.

The one named Ron Paul, I wanted to say. “He’s the old cranky guy.”

“I saw his signs,” said Nose. “I thought it was just Paul. What was his name?”

“Ron Paul.”

“Huh. Thanks.”

I’d continue this story, except that A) there isn’t any more, and B) just got a text from Rob Long . . . oh. Well. My hotel isn’t good enough for a nightcap; we have to go down to the Radisson, where Mike Murphy might be drinking. Fun! Fistfights, maybe! Later.

LATER

Didn’t run into Mike, but did run into Frank Luntz, Pollster. He should change his name to Luntz-Pollster; that’s how he’s always introduced, anyway. Maybe Lunspolstar. But then people would say “Here to talk about how Gingrich’s numbers are moving up slightly and then sideways, and then up again, is Fox News contributor Frank Lunspolstar, Pollster.” Rob knew him; Rob knows everyone.

Before we entered the Radisson, I committed a sin. Can you see what’s wrong in this picture?

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There’s nothing wrong in that picture, except for the fact that it was taken. It is suspicious to take pictures of things if a person of authority cannot immediately discern your reasons for doing so. That’s not a charming clown giving a balloon to a little girl or a dog standing on his hind legs. Why are you taking a picture of this commonplace locale?

A cop wandered over and asked why I was taking a picture, then asked if we were press. I got out my magic press card, which explains why I am taking pictures: because I am member of the sanctioned, credentialed elite. Duh. This guy next to me? He has no card, and hence no justification whatsoever.

Which brings us to the greatest political ad ever. Yesterday’s Union Leader had a picture on the front page of a man whose boyhood dream was to attend the New Hampshire Primary – which is somewhat like having a teenage dream of being a towel boy at an orgy – but that wasn’t the real treat. It was this:

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He’s a Democrat, with a simple promise:

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There are Democrats up here, by the way. This morning’s paper has an account of a local high school holding a caucus, just like they have in Iowa. There was one lone Obama supporter among the students quoted, and he said he thought the president needed another four years to complete his work. The child’s name?

Antoine Twaddle.