While I agree it would have been nice to have had more water available at the Obama rally in Springfield Saturday, there was nothing keeping anyone from leaving and getting water just outside the event. I had that notion in the back of my mind the whole time. In fact, when we did decide to leave a bit early, it took us just 60 seconds to reach an open fire hydrant near the entrance of the secured area and then another minute to get to Brewhaus where there was not only water available, but beer too!
Granted, we were toward the back on Sixth Street and that made our exit particularly easy, but anyone who needed to could have gotten out. Again, that’s not to let organizers off the hook completely, just that the situation wasn’t as dire as some are making it out to be. No one was captive. Seeing Barack Obama isn’t worth risking your health or the health of your young children if you were foolish enough to bring them.
Some of the criticism even has the smell of politics. "See! Barack Obama is a bad, bad man because he let people almost die of thirst so he's not fit to be president!" Give me a break. The last thing anyone wanted was the crowd to be uncomfortable. It was a hot day, there were way more people than anyone expected and the water distribution was poor. That's all there was to it.
Update: I forgot to mention that I think a better solution to all of this would have been to have several water stations located just inside the entrance. People could have grabbed a cup of water (and the ones they were actually using were pretty good size) on their way in. That would have gotten most people through the event. There would have had to have been lots of water being poured to keep the line moving, but I think it could have been done. Perhaps passing out (can I use that term here) cheap caps might have been a good idea too. I was, for once, smart enough to bring my own cap but most people didn't think of it.
Update II: Allie in comments makes a good point: We may have learned our lesson from all this but when exactly are we going to have to deal with 35,000 people downtown again? Short of a public flogging of Rod Blagojevich, I don’t see it happening.