DENVER, Colo. — Here it is, one of the most spectacular displays of political pageantry in American history: Invesco Field, home of the Broncos, for the climactic event of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. In a few hours, Barack Obama will officially become the first African-American presidential nominee of a major party. This is history in the making. And I literally have a 50-yard line seat.
That’s right. Thanks to a well-connected friend, I’m at Section 123 of Invesco, which, if there was turf laid down instead of a massive stage, would be the 50 yard line. Ironically — and not to complain! — but the seats are less-than-ideal, since I’m behind that massive stage. But watching Obama on the JumboTrons won’t exactly be an inconvenience. I’m not in a press area, so Ill get to witness The Speech the way 76,125 of Barack Obama’s closest friends will: in an atmosphere of sheer patriotic pandemonium. (Unfortunately that also means I’ll be running on laptop-battery power, so posting will be a bit infrequent as I conserve energy.)
Getting in here was frustrating: a two-hour-long line stretching back to the Pepsi Center parking lot. I’m guessing a sturdy artifact of the pre-nomination march into Invesco could be my Twitter feed, wherein me and my friends pissed and moaned about waiting forever in the baking heat to advance a few paces at a time, accosted by all manner of t-shirt and tchotchke vendors hustling Obama memorabilia. We’re about four hours or so away from The Speech, and Invesco is baking hot. A slight breeze feels as refreshing as an open icebox.
None of this, of course, can take away from the majesty of this moment, if I can be personal for a moment. Politically, Obama is already getting a bounce, measured even before Biden’s speech last night. But whatever the immediate political impact of the speech is, the spectacle is breathtaking. McCain maybe hitting Obama for being a "celebrity" — a racially-charged derision intended to make him seem insubstantial, as if an African-American candidate could earn his party’s nomination without working so much harder than any white politician — but that’s both right and wrong at the same time. Obama truly has become a symbol of restoration in America. To deride that is to deride the millions of people who believe. I am among tens of thousands of them right now.
"The best way you can thank me for my service and sacrifice," says a Marine who lost his arm in Haditha in 2005, "…is to vote Barack Obama." He’s one of these tens of thousands. Here’s another. "I registered as a Republican and voted for John McCain in 2000," says Nathaniel Fick, a retired Marine captain, whose story you can find in HBO’s "Generation Kill." "We cannot afford more of the same. That’s why we need Barack Obama and Joe Biden." And here’s a third. "We’ve been a band for about 10 years and this is probably the coolest thing we’ve ever done," says the singer of a bluegrass act called the Mountain String band. "We only get this once in our life, and God bless Barack Obama."
Crossposted to The Streak.