I attended the Meet Al Franken
event at the Levee Cafe in Hastings. It was well attended. All seats were filled and there were people sitting in chairs along one of the side walls and at the back of the room. Oh, and I tried to take pictures, but the lighting was bad, and I just did not get any good shots.
Although this is a long post, it falls far short of communicating every aspect of my experience. And a quick personal disclosure; at present I do not work for any one candidate, nor do I volunteer-as of yet. That being said, I have to say, I was impressed. Al was very present. As in you knew he was listening to you when you talked to him.
Well, maybe I should not speak for others. But I most definitely walked away believing he heard me. I also feel somewhat embarrassed. When he mentioned he'd written a couple of movies about recovery, I was only aware of Stuart Saves His Family.
What I didn't know, and only found out by visiting his web site after coming home from the event, was that he also wrote the screen play for "When A Man Loves A Woman." I've been using that movie in my job for years. So, now that I've wipe the egg off my face, let me get on with the night.
His speech to the crowd was good. It hit all the important issues
. Each received a solid round of applause. But it is not the substance that was important. Well, it's important, but it's not what stood out for me. However, I'll get to that later.
He was tired, I could see that. Especially during his speech. As a public speaker of sorts myself, I could recognize the moments when his brain out paced his mouth. There's that little extra dramatic pause while searching back to the next part of the speech. But they were few and far between, and always occurring at a time when a dramatic pause was helpful.
You can always tell when a speaker is really tired. They start to drift into the William Shatner school of dramatic pause. You know, pauses so big Shatner and his belly could easily walk through them.
Anyway, being tired did not put Al off his game. He avoided the curse of Shatner speak. He spoke from memory, without the use of notes, and did so in a loose, comfortable manner, despite appearing tired. He held the crowd. There were occasional distractions when people arrived from downstairs, talking loudly, but the crowd did not get pulled away. I did, but I was at the back of the room, close to the stairs. Oh, and I suffer from a mild form of ADD, so it's a given I'll be distracted. However, I regained quickly, and never saw others looking back at the distractions.
But, as I said earlier, the content of his speech was really not the highlight of the night. It was how well he interacted with the crowd both before and after his speech. Any trace of exhaustion vanished. He owned that room. What was most impressive was just how well he listened. And I do not mean nodding his head, saying yes, making the right expressions and responding with generalities. I mean he actually made an effort to understand what you were telling him.
When I went up to shake his hand and explain the harsh realities of health insurance, even within the health care industry, I misspoke at the same time the crowd noise momentarily crescendoed. Instead of just acting like he understood and move on to the next person, he asked me to re-state what I said, until he understood.
And that, more than anything, is what can win him the election. After seven years of not being listened to, Al is listening.