July 27, 2004

AN EX-GIRLFRIEND TURNED INSTAPUNDIT CORRESPONDENT (yeah, I’ll recruit ’em any way I can) emails this report:

I took these photos at today’s Kerry rally in Norfolk, and no, I haven’t turned into a Democrat. I was accompanying one of my young workers – he’s a Kerry fan. Just because you’re my former sweetie, I am sending you the first pic. Look closely at the foreground in the first photo – they inadvertently set the platform up in front of the French flag!!!

There’s a lot of that inadvertence stuff going around.

UPDATE: Or is it the French flag? Close examination shows that it’s flying from a flagpole on the left, but then the colors are wrong — it should be blue, white, red from left to right. Reader Wallace Winfrey, who’s been trying to find it on Google, emails: “It’s the mystery flag!” Go figure. Meanwhile my Norfolk correspondent sends this update:

The Norfolk rally was so poorly executed, it’s hard to believe it’s leading up to the convention. There was almost no advance work done – obviously stage placement was off, there was a cheesy-looking fake plant at the podium, the speeches leading up to Kerry were looooong and boring, the crowd was fairly sparse and wasn’t inspired to cheer much – they threw a few t-shirts from the stage to try to rev them up. That worked for a couple of minutes. The Bush supporters were loud for their size, and appeared to be more enthusiastic. It was really kind of a bust, considering that the convention is going on this week.

It’s shocking: Apparently, the Kerry advance team handled things so badly that they screwed up the French flag! That’s not going to do much to heal the transatlantic rift. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Several readers say that it’s the signal flag for the letter “T” or “Tango” — and it does look right. But why would they be flying that flag at a Kerry rally, even if it is on a Naval base? Is there a French connection somewhere?

The answer comes from No Caliban: “The easiest mnemonic for the flag was, of course, Last Tango in Paris.” Makes sense to me! Another mystery explained in record time, thanks to the miracle of the blogosphere!

MORE: The information keeps coming. A reader informs me that it wasn’t actually on a naval base:

The event wasn’t actually held on any of the military installations in the area – that’s actually prohibited by law (overt political campaigning -if an incumbent can wrangle a legitimate function at a military base, that’s a whole nother story). This rally was at a place called Nauticus (link), a maritime themed museum in downtown Norfolk (actually, not too far, but on the other side of some water, from the PETA main HQ building…).

From the Instagirlfriend picture, it looks like they set up the stage between the Nauticus facility building and the battleship, parked right next to it. The ship which, while still on the US Naval registry of ships, is not on active status. It’s pseudo-carefully mothballed – the public isn’t allowed to climb through it, just on the main deck and through a couple of carefully selected outer areas. From the looks of it, they were down in the little unused ‘no-man’s land’ – it’s actually a pretty cramped little space – the USSS guys probably loved it because it is hidden from view by just about everything. Not a lot of room though – it’s barely wider than a good sized alley, but it does have the advantage of offering camera angles that include the tips of 16 inch Naval Guns. The fact that the ship is still an official US Navy vessel (unlike, say, the USS Alabama in Mobile) is probably why the rally wasn’t on the ship itself, which offers a LOT more space on the fantail than the little alleyway where Kerry actually was.

From my recollection of the overall size of the area, I’d be surprised if the overall spectator head count for the event was over 2-300 people – there just isn’t any room for more than that. I’ve noticed looking through the Google/Yahoo news photos of the event that there aren’t any wide angle crowd shots – probably because there wasn’t much of a crowd. I also noticed that none of the shots give a clear indication, like the one you got hold of, about how dinky the venue they used really is (overall size wise). She mentions the ‘cheesy plant’ – and ‘cheesy plant’ appears in a lot of the ‘candidate on the stump’ pix. Another indication of how small the place is, if one frikkin plant is good enough for camouflage!

Yeah, if you look at pictures like this one you get a very different sense of the locale. Well, here’s another picture she sent, with a panoramic view. (Click it for a bigger version). I’d guess it’s more than 2-300 people, but not a lot more. And it’s Insta-ex-girlfriend, as we haven’t been an item since some time in the Reagan administration. But as I’ve mentioned before, I stay in touch. The old boys’ network has nothing on the old girlfriend network!

STILL MORE: Reader Will Roden — who clearly needs a hobby — emails:

I count 105 people in the picture, not including the sniper on the roof or the man walking by the news trucks. It looks like a good portion of the attendees are blocked from view by the tree. Based on the density of the crowd, I’ll guess that there are no more than 70 people behind it. I wonder how many in the crowd are media and other campaign staff.

10 minutes of studying this picture, and I still haven’t found Waldo.

I haven’t verified this count myself, and don’t plan to. . . .

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