Sunday, August 01, 2004

MS. WHEELCHAIR 2004 (Convention, Wed. the 28th)

After the Wes Clark debacle we found ourselves wandering outside the “Democratic Disability Caucus” comprised of (can you believe it) delegates with disabilities. For whatever reason, the mostly wheelchair-bound assembly had some of the most spirited Dems I observed at the entire convention. These were extremely dedicated and convincing people.

And then SHE came rolling out of the banquet hall -- “Ms. Wheelchair 2004” in a tiara and white sash. She had a tan face and a beaming smile. More than a delegate, she was a crowned pageant-winner and spokesperson for the cause. Ms. Disability ’04 would be giving up her crown soon to Ms. Wheelchair ’05 (I guess they do their contests early) and had mixed feelings about passing on the title. During out interview, she was very cordially and engagingly giving me the disability caucus's talking points on supporting Kerry (I'll need to check the video footage to recall what they were) when she mentioned she was Native American.

I couldn’t help but ask her then, as a Native American, when she heard Howard Dean make his “Take America Back” speech, how it would play in Peoria if a Sioux, or Cherokee, or Navajo tribesman used that same slogan. And weren’t Native Americans the ones with a better case to make use of it. She maintained it wasn’t realistic for Native Americans to “Take America Back” and refused to be pinned down on whether she’d prefer it. In retrospect I think we’d both agree that if Indian gaming continues to boom, they may be able to soon buy America back anyway.

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