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Filler: North Carolina's predictable thunderstorms speak louder than Barack Obama

Delegates cheer as First Lady Michelle Obama addresses

Delegates cheer as First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. (Sept. 4, 2012) (Credit: AP)

“... The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.” -- Matthew 5:45

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- And really, the conventions are just an argument between the Republican and Democratic parties about which is which.

On Wednesday the Democratic Party announced that President Barack Obama’s Thursday night speech planned for the 73,000-seat Bank of America Stadium, where the NFL’s Carolina Panthers play, would be moved to the 20,000-seat Time Warner Cable Arena, to avoid potentially inclement weather.
As I write this, bunkered in my hotel room in Charlotte, the sun glares through my window. But we did get poured on last night to the point that Newsday editorial cartoonist Walt Handelsman, fellow editorial board member Alvin Bessent and I were shriveled up like prunes by the time we got into the Time Warner venue.


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It was just last week, in Tampa, Fla., that the Republican National Convention canceled its Monday session out of respect for Hurricane Isaac, which then bypassed Tampa and scooted west to New Orleans.

The Charlotte forecast calls for a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms on Thursday. Those who know the Carolinas (I’m from here) could have told them when they were planning the convention that a 40 percent chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms is such a summer constant that they shouldn’t even bother to change the forecast from day to day. It should just be, “Weather forecast for June 1-Sept. 21: Hot, with a 40 percent chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Check back in autumn for an update.”

My guess is that heavy precipitation Thursday would’ve brought endless camera shots of a mostly empty stadium dotted with wet, beleaguered Democrats, as Obama tried to sell hope and change to folks who were mostly hoping to change into dry socks.

I don’t buy what Republicans are selling: that the Democrats moved the event not because of weather but because the stadium was going to be half-empty even under clear skies. First, there are a lot of people in this region who were very excited to get tickets to the Thursday shindig, and I think the crowd would have been quite large. And even if all tickets weren't used Thursday, the sudden hassle of moving it back to an arena with 53,000 fewer seats is a bigger problem than showing a less-than-full stadium on TV.

Also problematic, the Democratic Party had hoped to register thousands of voters at the stadium, and that won’t happen now.

The campaign says that on Thursday afternoon, Obama will do a conference call with disappointed volunteers who now cannot attend the speech, and that an attempt will be made to help them hear Obama in person at a later event.

Personally, I understand why the Democrats moved indoors, but I have a feeling, as I look at sunlight peeking through my drapes, that it isn’t going to rain Thursday evening in Charlotte. I think it will be just like Tampa, with plans changed to accommodate weather that never appears.

I have to add a postscript to an old saying:

Man plans, and God laughs.

Man changes his plans, and God giggles uncontrollably.

Tags: barack obama , speech , democratic national convention , charlotte , arena , weather

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