Friday, August 29, 2008

All Aboard for Obama!

The climax, the coda, the main course: last night's acceptance speech by Barack Obama was amazing as oratory and spectacle.

My opinions changed by the hour: when we first arrived, I thought the stage set looked cheesy, like the faux Roman architecture you see at Caesar's Palace (especially with the two large screen videos embedded between the doric columns. But as the day turned to twilight and the stadium filled to capacity, I realized why you had to have a piece of architecture so monumental (to claim the space, of course) and also give the sense that we all were seeing Obama walk out from and return to the Oval Office. It worked.

I love the movie about Obama's life. Did you notice his main reference to growing up in the 60s was about the Space Program? How cool--of all the things you could pick to say about that decade, to highlight the most futuristic aspect is way, way cool.

As always, I must tell you about the logistics: Keep in mind that as media, we had to get on a special bus at 2 pm, which took an hour to go about 500 yards, then through security, then up to the top press skybox.

Fate or somebody (actually, her name was Laurie with the DNCC) smiled upon me and I got a floor pass for the night. Leah had a camera stand pass. We got down there, said hello to the California delegation, roamed around. Decided we needed to bring some food upstairs to John who was starving. Even though they had all summer to plan for this, the folks-behind-the-scenes fell short. They ran out of food, getting down to just chips and nachos by about 6:30. Also, the folks attending had to get on shuttle buses or line up between 1 pm and 3 pm--and the lines of folks wound their way for blocks and blocks and blocks and blocks.

We went back and forth from the skybox to the field and at one point, we were kicked out of a freight elevator by secret service because they had a contingent of senators coming through--John Kerry (MA), Charles Schumer (NY)...others I couldn't recognize....). When Gore was giving his speech ALL security and ALL secret service was blocking every single access point for the media had to reenter the floor/field area. People were absolutely freaking out, yelling, "I've got to do my job!! Let us in!"

We heard Obama speak from our front window seats in the skybox. Leah got a video of the crowd going wild when he finally came out.

It was a great speech. You have to realize anybody working as media was probably working 16 to 18 hour days and clearly, with organizations that did not provide food. Can you imagine working that long with (hopefully, not for) only peanuts? That's how it was for John. He filed his last report at 9:30, it took us until 10:30 to get from Invesco Center to the shuttle to the car. Then 11 pm back at Jane's house where we finally could eat leftovers.

But that is not the main takeaway of the 85,000 who watched Obama speak or the 35 million who saw him on TV.

My thoughts will coalese with proper sleep, I'm sure.

Here's a few comments:

"How funny to be in a football stadium where everyone is on the same team! When the crowd cheered, it was the entire audience." (Leah)

"Did you hear who McCain picked for VP? A right-wing, anti-choice, pro-creation, red state gun-totin' mama. She is so inexperienced you can't even say the debate will be between her and Biden. It'll be the baby vs. Biden." (a vendor on the street)


"She's such a token, such a nobody, so little experience, I bet it will just piss Hillary off. I mean, if she's the VP and McCain topples over, this nobody could be the next president! Well, if there's one thing I know, Ms. Clinton loves a fight. And this might piss her off so much we'll see her come changing back even harder for Barack!"

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