It’s one thing to walk from your car to the house on a bone-chilling winter day, quite another to stand outdoors hopping from one foot to the other as politicians bloviate for half an hour.
Welcome to Dave Clegg’s official announcement for county district attorney on the courthouse steps in Kingston Saturday afternoon.
Clegg ran in a primary for congress last year, finishing sixth in the sprawling 19th CD, but second among friends and neighbors in Ulster. Bitten by the bug, he’ll make a better showing in a one-on-one contest on home turf for county office.
Clegg was one of the first to arrive, sensibly dressed in a blue woolen topcoat with suit jacket underneath and red tie. Wife Karen wore a red coat. Supporters straggled in, swelling the crowd to over 100. The mood was festive; victory is in the air for Democrats these days.
Several local worthies spoke for Clegg, some of whom don’t speak to each other. Unity was the theme, as a stiff wind blew litter down Wall Street. A woman in a real mink coat shivered in from of me. Must have been a Republican; Democrats don’t wear real fur. In public.
After about 20 minutes of he’s a jolly good fellow, “our next district attorney!” doffed his overcoat and stepped to the podium, a sheaf of papers in his hand.
Good God! I thought, is this man nuts? Some context is in order: “Law and order” Republicans are forever demonizing liberal Democrats (like Clegg) as bleeding heart wusses, “soft on crime.” Clegg was there to demonstrate compassion and toughness, that he could take the heat, and the cold.
I probably should have kept my frozen mouth shut, but couldn’t resist yelling out from the back of the crowd, “Dave! Dave! Get naked, Dave!”
It got a few snickers from huddled clusters near me, but then I thought I heard somebody say (to me), “You shouldn’t say that, old man.”
“Old man?” “Did you just call me an old man?” I asked a 20-something guy behind me, with just a touch of indignation.
“No,” he said. “I said, ‘You shouldn’t do that, man (meaning Clegg’s taking off a warm coat). It’s cold, man.’” (Apparently the wax had frozen in my ears.)
We shook hands, if only to warm each other.
Gosh, I wish I had yelled, “But Davey, it’s cold outside,” but that’s not allowed any more.