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Both of them, all of a sudden

Obama office

Obama office

Clinton office

Clinton office

The comedian Lewis Black has a great bit about how he discovered the end of the universe, and it came to mind today.

He said that the end of the universe has a specific location on this planet – in Houston, Texas, on a street corner in its downtown. There, one day, he paused on a walk and noticed that he was standing in front of a Starbucks. Then he looked up and saw that directly across the street, on the same block, directly facing the Starbucks, there was another Starbucks! [Pause to catch breath.] And that, he told the audience, is the end of the universe.

Prowling around the political websites today, we saw the startling news that the Barack Obama campaign was opening a campaign office in McMinnville, Oregon, one of 19 (at last count) offices around the state. This was actual news; presidential campaign offices often have appeared in Portland, but not in the smaller communities. McMinnville is a city of 30,000 people, and only 45 minutes from either Portland or Salem. So far as a number of long-time residents we’ve talked to know, McMinnville has never had a presidential campaign office. This assertion had to be verified.

A stroll downtown, on the city’s attractive Third Street, confirmed it. Hand-crafted Obama signage was out on the sidewalk and on the doorway, and on the stairway that led upstairs to an office suite where a clutch of Obama backers (most or all volunteers) were at work, and other volunteers came and went. The square footage there was generous, and the space was donated. It was not especially fancy, but it was quite functional, and more important, busy.

The Obama list of Oregon offices includes some unlikely places – St. Helens, Tillamook (a third the size of McMinnville), Pendleton, North Bend, Oregon City. (And, two in Portland, and Beaverton, Hood River, Corvallis, Salem, Roseburg, Forest Grove, Eugene, Medford, Astoria, Bend, Gresham.)

The Hillary Clinton Oregon office list is a roster that would be mind-boggling impressive under any other comparison: Portland, Asotoria, Beaverton, Corvallis, Bend, Gresham, Medford, Salem, Springfield. No McMinnville.

But on exiting the Obama office and glancing to the left, a familiar-looking sign appeared off the sidewalk. And there it was: Just down Third Street, barely 100 yards, just a block away, on the same side of the street – a Hillary Clinton headquarters, just being opened this very afternoon, boxes being unpacked and signs being posted.

We’ll not call this the end of the universe. But something significant is going on.

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