A Breakfast in Charlotte: Another Baker, Another View



Justin Baker (right) and close relative
  • Justin Baker (right) and close relative

Ostensibly, I'm here at the Democratic National Convention to help my father, Flyer columnist Jackson Baker, by throwing in a word or two here and there, shooting some low-rent video, and taking a few photographs, some of which have ended up like this:


Hey, I never said I was Annie Leibovitz; I'm a software development manager on vacation from Atlanta to hang out with my dad.

In the absence of dazzling video or still photographs in this post, allow me to share my thoughts on the state of the Tennessee Democratic Party as viewed through the prism of a disoriented IT manager from Georgia.

The scene: Wednesday morning at the Oasis Shriners' headquarters building in suburban Charlotte. The Tennessee Democratic delegation has rented meeting space here for the week. My dad and I amble into a sparsely appointed, gymnasium-like room as the group is finishing their breakfast. I scoop up the last of the hashbrowns from a serving platter, and I listen to Steve Cohen at the dais as he applauds the diversity of this year's state delegation. I'm pleased that he gets in a few Memphis Tigers basketball hurrahs toward the end of his address.

As I go for a second cup of coffee, a delegation official runs through some of the logistics of the day's schedule of events. What sticks out to me in particular are his comments about the placement of the Tennessee delegation on the floor of the arena. It's probably not a surprise that Tennessee, certainly out of reach for Obama in November, is placed far in the back on the arena floor, stage right. The official reminds the group to watch out for those pesky New Yorkers, as they've been muscling their way into the Tennesseans' assigned seating. There's not much you can do about it, he says, what with their sheer numbers and legendary resolve.

As breakfast wraps up, a partition is pulled away from a back wall, revealing the swankier furnishings of the Ohio delegation's meeting room next door. Throughout breakfast I can't help but notice their robust cheers bleeding through, at times almost drowning out the proceedings in the Tennessee room. Perhaps this video, the most passable of my videos so far, captures the contrast better than I can express it in writing:

Such is the state of affairs for a Democratic delegation with two — count 'em, two — elected officials at the federal level. Less muscular than New York. More restrained than Ohio.

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