Chillicothe, OH
I’m not sure Lonely Planet has ever ventured out to Chillicothe. I’m sure that it receives few symphony orchestras and its baseball team hasn’t much threatened the major leagues in recent years. But it has at least attracted one political brontosaurus to its tree lined streets. On the corner of Paint and Main, a thousand residents of Ross County, or maybe less, gathered in front of the town’s ornate courthouse to hear a sermon from their idol, Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Alaska has loaned their steward to the rest of the U.S.A. For a motivational tour. Appearing in her well-documented luxury wardrobe, and with the girlish enthusiasm of a vice-presidential candidate who has already given up pretensions to gravitas required by somebody who could actually win, Palin has at least provided a prozac moment for thousands of swing-staters (swingers perhaps?).

I have to admit that we arrived soon after she’d finished. The town seemed non-plussed, with a small crowd of female supporters still celebrating her performance in the local tavern. But the interest their was really more on their darts tournament. At the bar, an almost dandy-ish man in long coat and fedora extemporised on the virtues of Obama-Biden. No-one much cared.

Yard-signs plumped for Obama 6:2 in the roads that we saw. Not a good sign. Even the badge man for the event had racks of unsold pendants, which was a shame as his merchandise was truly spectacular. One, with Barack in the guise of Mad Magazine’s Alfred Newman, had the Democrat saying “Yes We Can’t.” Another had Palin the the guise of Rosie the Riveter. The badge seller suggested a neat juxtaposition of one with a fairly aggressive pit bull (representing the Alaska petroleum dispenser in chief) next to the one portraying Obama.

The black man and the pitbull. An interesting combination.

Despite that, it’s obvious that Chillicothe has no great love for McCain and Palin. It’s not a Republican stronghold any more. At the local GOP HQ, instead of big, bombastic banners there was simply a carboard sign. On the sign, written in black pen, was the message, “Sarah, welcome to God’s Country.” God, unfortunately for the sign writer, appears to be an Obama voter these days if, of course, he believes in electoral politics at all.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that, as it turned out, Palin used her speech to make some tired, and ridiculous, allegations against Obama. Apparently, Obama attended a party in 2003 at which Palestinian writer and activist Rashid Khalidi was also present. While making political capital out of “slurs” directed at Israel at that party, Palin (and McCain as well) cited as evidence tapes held by the LA Times, which that paper has not released.

The Dispatch also reported that Palin’s rally was dwarved by one held at the same location by Barack Obama. Sources on the ground told me that only a thousand (and probably less) attended Palin’s event. 5,000 turned out for Obama.

The GOP is plumbing the depths of desperation, and fewer and fewer people are willing to descend with them.

The West Virginia Tape
In other news, Video the Vote has scored a major success over the past few days with a video shot in West Virginia. The video, which has been seen by over 330,000 people so far, shows an election official explaining how a voting machine works, only to find that, after going through the calibration procedure, the machine still fails to register the voter’s preference, and switches to a different candidate.

Footage like that is gold dust for election watchers. Check it out:

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