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Monday, August 25, 2008

DNC Night One (Cross Posted Here and There)

A Little Programming Note: I have a share of credentials for the big show and I’ll be posting pictures, interviews, stories, and whatever else I can manage over the next few days here, at You2Gov, and BNN. Just so you know.

Instead of watching Senator Kennedy’s passing of the spiritual mantle to Barrack Obama I ended up watching Intervention with the story of an alcoholic, Philip, and his struggle to find sobriety. Under other circumstances there would be a good joke in there.

I miss other circumstances, but even I can’t take the easy shots at Kennedy anymore.

As a Republican living in Denver, watching the DNC brings a particular interest. It seems that there is a nervous energy on both sides of the aisle, and it’s an energy that is coming from the same source: will the Democrats throw away another opportunity at the Oval Office in a year where they should be the clear favorites? Make no mistake, 2008 should be the Year of the Donkey, but the political trends don’t seem to be supporting that idea.

Republicans are thrilled as the pain of 2006 is still fresh and the indicators even six months ago weren’t particularly hopeful. With a tiny sense of hope, the GOP is tentatively looking to take the initiative, but seems nervous to make any bold statement or move that might backfire and tip the balance back to Obama.

Nervous energy.

Democrats, for their part, are thrilled at the historic moment: a black man has a real, viable chance to be the next President of the United States. And it is exciting, even for someone who thinks that Obama isn’t the right guy for the job. The truth is that his candidacy changes the rules of presidential politics in the United States, and it is a change for the better.

But somewhere in all the excitement is a little nervousness: is Obama really the guy to defeat the evil minions of big oil?

Was Biden the right choice for VP? Ron Paul can manage to maintain his outsider image even with a long tenure in DC; Biden doesn’t quite have the same level of mild insanity to pull it off. Biden waters down Obama’s message of change, blunting the vision of an outsider storming the gates of power. Of course, he also provides foreign policy expertise, which is always important in the presidential election.

Can the left lose again even though the country has shown itself to be wildly disappointed with the reality of life in the United States today? While President Bush has had dismal job approval numbers, since 2006 the numbers have been even worse for a congress that is increasingly seen as given to useless grandstanding while America looks for leadership.

So, yeah, lots of nervous energy in a race that is far closer than most people expected.

Aside: Jim Leach really lost the message, didn’t he? That was one of the least inspirational speeches that I’ve seen in a long time. The Democrats have to be disappointed in their token Republican; the GOP has to be hoping that their token Dem, Lieberman, does a better job, no? The video introduction of Michelle Obama was much better stuff. While I haven’t heard a lot of kind words about her--and don’t make the mistake of believing that I run in conservative circles; my politics do little to define my friendships--this is the kind of thing that gives her a quick make-over. If America is watching, this will do much to polish her image.

The mood in Denver is a little surprising right now.

The convention is like a curiosity--a circus or a play. People are heading downtown to watch the show--not just the event itself, but the protests and counter-protests. The DNC threatens at times to seem more spectacle than meaningful political event. Watching protesters is far less about the political discourse, it’s about watching the show. You can blame the Recreate 68 folks (and similar groups) for that sense of ridiculous theater.

In all their outrage, they speak in terms that most people will never quite get. Whatever connection it is that they want to make, they generally fail. They are the clowns of the American political scene, providing outrage and hilarity in almost equal doses, but doing damned little to shine new light on the problems facing our country.

The biggest effect that these folks are having on me right now is to have rendered doing business with my usual printer downtown a near impossibility. Which, admittedly, leaves me even more closed

Weather permitting, tomorrow will bring photos and interviews from downtown Denver. For now I’ll content myself watching the speeches tonight and wondering whether the convention will bring the bounce that Obama expected from his European tour.

And, of course, enjoying the random shout outs to Hillary. Because that’s funny politics.

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