The streets surrounding City Hall in Manhattan were clogged this morning with New Yorkers who had rousted themselves from slumber this morning to come out and do something of vital importance: watch the Super Bowl champion New York Giants get showered with scraps of paper in a celebratory ticker tape parade.
As the parade wound down, the Giants, along with a host of political and entertainment luminaries, gathered on the steps of City Hall for a ceremony and speeches. On the corner of Broadway and Park Place, Giants fan Brian Murray had his fists in the air, as if they had been frozen there since the last moments of Sunday night's game. He and two friends had come in on an 8:03 train from Bayshore, Long Island, and had just watched the parade from the top of a mailbox. "The cops let us drink beer," he said excitedly, pointing at a large paper coffee cup that apparently contained another kind of brew. I asked Murray if he was planning to vote. Perhaps surprised that my question was not about football, Murray removed his fists from the air for long enough to remove his sunglasses and stare at me as if I were nuts.
"No way," he said. I glanced at the two guys flanking him questioningly. They both shook their heads. There was a pause.
"But I wouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton if I was voting, if that's what you were going to ask," Murray said. (I wasn't, but OK.) "I don't like her at all." Murray and I nodded at each other for a moment. "I bet you voted for Hillary, right?" he said. What made him think that? "Because you're an empowering woman," he replied. And what would be wrong with that? "Nothing, that's fantastic," he said. "But I'm not an empowering woman!" he added.
Just then, a young man in a "Fuck New England" shirt ran by, as the Giants players began to take the stage to Tina Turner's "Simply the Best," which, ironically enough, was Clinton's theme song for her last Senate campaign. The crowd was going crazy as they viewed the big-screen projection of Michael Strahan and then Eli Manning walking to the dais in front of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and "The View" co-host Whoopi Goldberg.
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was speaking, announcing that he didn't know who others were voting for today, but that he had written in "Coach Coughlin for president, Eli Manning for vice president, and for secretary of defense, Steve Spagnuolo!"
"His writer was good today," said 25-year-old Jamaal Bailey, shaking his head appreciatively as he listened to Spitzer. Bailey, who works in insurance and lives in the Bronx, said he had voted -- for Sen. Barack Obama -- first thing this morning, before he headed to the parade. "The interplay with the delegates in this city is going to be really interesting," Bailey observed. "Because a lot of the populations, especially the male and African-American constituents, they want to see Obama succeed. But Clinton is an incumbent politician, and some of these delegates, and the people in power, are going to think about how they've got to work with her."
Bailey said most of his friends were Obama supporters, though some would also be pulling levers for Rep. Dennis Kucinich today, and a few -- men and women, he said -- were Clinton supporters. I asked him if he would support the senator if she won the Democratic nomination. "In this two-party system," he said, "we do have to go with who the party selects, so yeah, I would support her."
Looking around at the crowd clotting the sidewalks, ankle-deep in paper and tossing beer bottles around -- and with not a banner or bumper sticker or political pin in sight -- I wondered to Bailey about whether he was afraid that this massive gathering, made up mostly of men, and many African-Americans, would hurt his candidate today. "Nah," he said. "The polling places are open late, so people can vote when they're done cheering on the team." He paused and looked at me. "Look, if you're politically inclined, you're politically inclined. You're just going to find a way to vote."