Saturday, August 30, 2008
Denver Day Four: The Masterpiece
I thought day four of the Dem Convention in Denver would provide an emphatic exclamation point to a week full of superlative moments, but I was wrong. It went beyond the communication capacity of mere punctuation. Day four was on another plane altogether from run of the mill politicking. It blew me away on every level. I'm not alone.
Fireworks and flags
I'll go so far as to say it was transcendent political theater from start to finish. It was a singular and historic experience created by perfect timing and tempo, just enough of every ingredient, a smashing main entree and a magical crescendo of an ending -- all happening within a massive, thundering bowlful of Democrats ready to celebrate, and to rumble. Every element was perfectly in place and choreographed for maximum impact without going completely over the top. All the fine lines stood unsullied after all was said and done.
This was Obama's emergence as a commanding general election figure even more imposing than his primary incarnation. He's added a new and tone-right toughness we didn't see much of before. Primed and polished by his long primary fight, Obama is clearly now at the top of his game, ripe and ready to engage fully, with no punches pulled. It was magnificent to witness live.
California Here We Come
By virture of several strokes of luck (and magnanimous souls), we found ourselves incredibly close to the action to the right of the stage, near the front of the California delegation on what's usually the turf of the Broncos. That, in itself, was quite an experience -- looking up into huge, filled to the brim stands, getting some hint of what it must be like to score a touchdown there. And the crowd cheers!
Our site line to the main podium was superb and when the crowd clapped, danced, chanted or stomped -- which was often -- it could be eardrum shattering. The California delegation was lively, to say the least, up and moving most of the time -- whole lotta shakin' going on. Whole lotta wonderfully eccentric shakin' as a matter of fact. It was a particular coup for Mary Ellen and I to both be down on the floor together.
The DNC only issued one blogger floor credential to be shared between us, along with one so-called "arena" credential that didn't allow entry into the hall proper -- only the hallways, certain out-of-sight press areas and outside the building within the security perimeter. Since my mobility issues resulted in several bad experiences trying to be on the floor with the New Mexico delegation, Mary Ellen for the most part used the floor credential after the first day and I looked for action outside the hall proper. I found a lot of it, but it wasn't like being on the convention floor.
Unexpectedly, at Mile High we encounted a pair of kickass DNC volunteers who took notice of my battery-operated scooter dealie and declared Mary Ellen and I should be seated together on the convention floor. We followed them through tunnels and up ramps, across tv cable-strewn platforms, budging past Andrea Mitchell and her NBC crew and William Kristol and the Fox News freaks in the cramped aisles, to find ourselves before the California delegation. Only the Iowa delegation was between us and the stage. No sweat, the Cali's said, come on and join us. You can fit your scooter right here. We were floored. But there we were, for what certainly was the most momentous event of the entire convention.
The Lead Up
We loved the tunes they played to break up the speakers -- mostly old soul. Al Gore was welcomed like the Nobel Peace Prize winner he is, emphasizing the bad news about our earth and our climate, but pointing the way clearly to workable solutions. Everyone loves Al -- the president who should have been. Gov. Bill Richardson got a really strong welcome, with feet stomping and cheers. He gave an unusually vigorous speech, jabbing humorously at McCain and his many flaws and tossing in some enthusiastically received Spanish near the end. It almost looked like his hair was transforming into a small pony tail at the back, which wouldn't be a bad look for the Guv given his generally admired beard.
Stevie Wonder was WONDERful as always. Sheryl Crow was perfect for a day in the sun. Michael McDonald's voice is still excellent after all these years. The crowd really got behind the ordinary people who addressed the crowd about why they were supporting Obama.
Here Comes Barack
And then eventually, finally, it was Obama time -- and you all know what happened then. Perhaps the best convention speech of all time. Given in the most exotic and dramatic setting. Before 84,000 or so at Mile High and at least 50 million on TV (not counting PBS and C-SPAN). A fabulous finale with fireworks, waving flags, star confetti and red, white and blue streamers. From our vantage point on the "field" it was like a 3-D visual jackpot. A knock out. I don't care what McCain and Repubs do -- this one stands alone and rises above.
One of my favorite parts of Obama's speech took on the wedge issues always used by the venal right wing to try and bash Democrats and conjure hatred:
"We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country."
"The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gun violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the 2nd Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.”
“I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination."
We're heading out to Salida and the mountains today for some short but sweet respite from the political mishmash. There are more videos and photos to upload but you'll have to wait till we get back to an internet connection that works like it's 2008 and not 1999. I'll also have more to say about our complicated and enlightening convention experience, but that will have to wait until I'm home and can don my (clear) thinking cap once again.
We don't have as many photos as we'd like of Obama's night because, yes, we had ANOTHER technical snafu, this time right in the middle of Obama's day. Our new digital camera with all the bells and whistles that we bought especially to cover the convention went haywire during our time in Mile High. As far as we can tell, all our photos from the day were wiped out and we could take no more photos after we discovered that. We get what used to be called psychedelic images on our camera's LED display instead. I'm not kidding you. So we did get a few shots with our old camera and primitive cell phone camera, as well as lots of great stuff from our Flip video, but most of our best photos of Day Four were apparently wiped out. Ah, technology. And logistics. The twin conquerors of convention blogging!