Denver Diary, Pt 6 The Speech

  By the end of the evening, the media mob was screaming “Yes we can!”  No, the Fourth Estate was not going blatantly in the tank for Obama.  We were merely egging on a bus driver who was gamely trying to get us out of a stadium parking lot jammed with placard-bearing delegates after the final convention session.

  The evening ended in fireworks and delegate delirium over another well-crafted and well-delivered speech by the candidate, preceded by hours of stuff few will remember.  

  Wait—a few lines stuck with me.  Al Gore described what he said was John McCain’s allegiance to Bush Administration policies, and then said “I believe in recycling, but this is ridiculous.”

  Invesco Field, its 75,000 seats only a quarter-full when the proceeding began in the warm Denver sun at 3 PM MDT, was jammed by the time Obama took the stage about 7 hours later.

  The program in between had mixed-bag musical entertainment—Stevie Wonder, and John Legend, Sheryl Crow (who had the foresight to write her signature Obama rally song “A Change Would Do You Good” 10 years before his campaign began).

  The musician who personified the Obama campaign’s “bridge the gap” message was Michael McDonald, who channeled Ray Charles, singing “America the Beautiful.”  It was terrific.

  Also bridging the divide between race/culture/party were Susan Eisenhower (granddaughter of Ike) and a caucasian General- I didn’t catch his name- who told the crowd he grew up speaking Swahili because his parents were missionaries in Africa.  I envisioned Obama convention planners shouting “Eureka!” when they read his bio.

  But all this was filler, when you come right down to it.  This was a one-speech night, really (quick—who was the speaker right before Obama?  The answer’s Dick Durbin, Illinois’ other Senator—remember any of his lines?).

  I talked with Florida’s ex-Gov. and ex-Sen. Bob Graham about the last outdoor acceptance speech, JFK’s in LA in 1960.  He was an aide to VP nominee Lyndon Johnson, at the time.

 It was the speech in which Kennedy coined the phrase “The New Frontier” to describe his agenda as President. But when I asked Graham what he remembered of the speech, he replied: “I can’t tell you what he said or even who I was with, except my wife.  I just remember the energy in that stadium.”

  There was plenty of energy in Invesco Field as Obama entered through those fake Doric columns.  Flash bulbs galore. 

  What followed was his second-best convention speech.  Nothing to match that 2004 speech that propelled an Illinois State Senator into the realm of Presidential possibility.  Remember? “We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the red states.”

  That speech was 18-minutes of soaring rhetoric.  This one was 45 minutes long and, as a candidate accused of being more sizzle than substance, Obama had to include some brass tacks this time.

  Still, there were good lines—“America, now is not the time for small plans” (New Frontier, anyone?)

  On McCain’s opposition to more US military resources in Afghanistan: “John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell—but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives.”

  On the economy: “I don’t believe Senator McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of Americans.  I just think he doesn’t know.”

  Of course, that’s pretty much what Republicans will say about Obama when they begin their convention next week—that he’s too inexperienced to really know and grasp the problems facing the country.

  Indeed, the smoke from the fireworks was still wafting across Invesco Field when my Blackberry buzzed (11:08 PM, to be precise) with a message from Florida GOP Chair Jim Greer, which read in part: “Now that Barack Obama’s self-proclaimed celebration is over, it’s time to take a long, hard look at his record. Obama claims experience doesn’t matter, judgment does, yet he clearly lacks both.”

  Just a preview of coming convention attractions from St. Paul.




One Response

  1. […] South Florida political reporter for NBC’s local station. His summary of the night ends on this warning: [T]he smoke from the fireworks was still wafting across Invesco Field when my Blackberry buzzed […]

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