Do you know in Gillette Stadium, that slim rally/ad strip that runs all the way across from end zone to end zone, between the lower stands and the private box level -- the one that flashes things like "DEE-FENSE!" and "MAKE SOME NOISE!" during the action, and ads for beer and anti-perspirant during the breaks? Invesco Field has something similar, except it's four sets of four slim panels -- anyway, the point is that during Obama's speech those panels were saying things like "Obama/Change/You Can/Believe In," and sometimes the message would change, and sometimes it would flash when people were expected to cheer a lot. And then, when Obama got to the part of the speech about how he and McCain should not question each others' love for America, and "let us agree that patriotism has no party," all 16 panels changed to: "AMERICA." With an Obama logo. And you noticed everyone had flags to wave, right? Good gravy this man loves this country!
Which was, I hope you'll recall, the answer to my number-one rhetorical question I expected to be repeatedly answered at the convention.
I would say that it lined up pretty much as I anticipated, including the extraordinarily populist nature of his acceptance speech -- a speech I thought was not great as a speech, but probably effective for the political need. Obama needed to counter the fears, stoked by the GOP, that he is "other." To do so, he had to turn it around and say no, I'm the guy who understands everyday struggles, the man of the people, in contrast to Mr. Many-Homes McCain -- who, as Obama said tonight, doesn't get it.
I actually thought the best thing of the night, and maybe of the convention, was the handful of "regular people" who went up and told their stories. They were fantastic, especially in the middle of all these robotic automaton politicos -- although I suppose we'll probably find out that the guy isn't really named Barney Smith, they just gave him that name to make the joke work.
The risky night at Invesco, and the entire week, went off pretty much without a hitch, which was in itself a testiment to Obama's leadership skills -- these things always have a million moving parts, and this one in particular. For example, the last-minute arrangements of the roll-call vote screwed up all of Wednesday's schedule, prompting changes on the fly -- including Bill Richardson getting bumped to Thursday. Tuesday night, of course, the man beinig paid tribute to was not only trying to defy all medical wisdom by showing up and possibly even speaking; he also was hospitalized with kidney stones in a local Denver hospital even as the day's program was beginning. And of course the 85,000-person outdoor mega-rally could have been a disaster in any of a hundred different ways.
So, it's done. Maybe not memorably great, but certainly not memorably bad; historic, very positive, and probably watched by far more people than will bother to tune in to Senator Snooze and the Embarrassments -- more people will probably be glued to the Weather Channel, thinking of how the Republicans pissed on New Orleans the last time. Anyway, half the GOP elite isn't even going to go to the Twin Cities, for fear of being seen with a member of the Bush Administration; or near the Minneapolis Airport bathroom where Senator Toe-Tapper got arrested; or near the construction of the new bridge to replace the one that collapsed and killed 13 people and made everyone realize how the Republicans had neglected the nation's infrastructure.