Hillary's barbs heat up Vegas

Eds. Note: Content Editor represented the Ashland Daily Tidings last weekend at the National Association of Black Journalists convention. Guest speakers included presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The following is his first-person account of the event.

The hottest place to be in the country last week was Las Vegas. Yes, the temperature in Sin City soared into the triple digits. But it was no match for what was happening at the 32nd National Association of Black Journalists Convention Career Fair. More than 3,000 of the nation's media professionals crowded into Bally's Hotel for several days of networking, workshops, issue-oriented strategies and, of course, fun.

Southern Oregon was represented by yours truly &

the only black editor from the State of Jefferson at the NABJ conference.

As conventions go, this one was quite extraordinary. Yes, the grand exhibit hall, many seminars, workshops and receptions with abundant food and entertainment were enjoyable. A number of celebrities were out and about. Still, there was more. Much more.

On Thursday, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., addressed the conventioneers with a passionate speech. At one point in the Q A session she stepped away from the script and launched into a tirade, targeting one unfortunate young journalist who asked about her support for socializing the health care industry. Clinton wanted to put to rest any notions that she desires to socialize health care. She used this opportunity to make a strong statement &

effectively using condescension to disarm and discredit the journalist.

"That's been an attack on me for 15 years!" Clinton exclaimed.

"That's what universal medicine is," the journalist responded &

referring to socialism as the system for implementing universal health care &

as the audience clapped for Clinton.

"Do you think Medicare is socialized medicine?" Clinton asked.

"To a degree it is," the journalist answered.

"Well you are a small minority in America," Clinton barked. "Because Medicare has saved the lives and saved the resources of countless generations."

The audience cheered.

Clinton continued, flying high on emotion and encouraged by an audience of high-level journalists who applauded her tactical switch from addressing the universal health care issue &

which was the focus of the initial question &

to skewering a young journalist in front of his peers, as many in the audience joined the bandwagon while it rolled over his carcass.

"You'd be hard-pressed to find many Americans who want to do away with Medicare," Clinton said.

The young man's point had been masterfully redirected. Now, he was against Medicare, and Clinton was its heroic defender.

The senator went on to explain that millions of Americans don't have health care. And a few countries Clinton mentioned &

Canada, Britain, Japan, Australia &

that "have a uniform national system, are better on balance than they are in this country."

The senator was so adamant in her dissection of the socialized health care issue that the moderator &

veteran CNN journalist Suzanne Malveaux &

told her, "We don't have time for debate."

But the would-be president couldn't stop.

"Why don't you come talk to my staff," Clinton said. "I'm sorry you didn't say your name. I don't know who you are. Come introduce yourself to my staff. We will try to give you some information if you're interested in being educated instead of being rhetorical."

The audience of journalists erupted in a crescendo of applause and cheers for Hillary Clinton.

I was appalled, and felt some small sense of empathy for the unfortunate plight of this young journalist &

who found himself abandoned by his peers as he asked the only tough question posed to the presidential candidates at the convention. Journalists can't cheer in the press box of a sporting event, but apparently lavishing praise on a candidate during a convention QA is acceptable. Well, not to me.

To hear the audio

— — Senator Barack Obama shakes hands with conventioneers after his speech to the National Association of Black Journalists, August 10, at Bally's Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The following day, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., addressed an even larger crowd. His smooth delivery, respectful tone and direct answers had the audience eating out of his hands. While Clinton certainly brought the house down with her forceful style of rhetoric and confrontational tactics, Obama's appeal to rational simplicity &

talk with those with whom you disagree, don't threaten your neighbors, seek to lift up all who are down &

won the day.

Another favorite of the convention was Disney's "Dreamer's Academy" with spokesman Steve Harvey. During the reception, Harvey was joined by actress Victoria Rowell (Drucilla Winters of Young and the Restless), former NFL star Reggie Williams, Chef Jeff and Monique Coleman (Dancing with the Stars). Each had a story to tell of how they overcame obstacles and achieved their dreams. To hear Steve and Victoria's stories, click and .

(The audio will open your windows media player or associated audio player. The Steve Harvey segment is 14 minutes long. Roughly three minutes into the audio he speaks of how his dream of being on TV was nearly squashed. The Victoria Rowell segment is just under three minutes long total.)

Comedian also stopped by (as he did on the night of the opening reception) to give about $5 worth of his $73-per-ticket show, which he has performed at the Flamingo Hotel for the past four years.

With ESPN anchors and guests roaming the halls &

along with recognizable faces from the three networks, and FOX, CNN, BET and a host of local television news anchors, print media and radio broadcasters from across the country &

this convention wasn't merely a large draw for minority journalists, it was one of the largest gatherings of media professionals in the nation.

And I am grateful to have been given an opportunity to attend, and grateful to have avoided Hillary's wrathful rhetoric.

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