Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Chaos at Denver

'Prince' columnist Adam Bradlow '11 is in Denver for the Democratic National Convention as a guest of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and will be blogging periodically about what he sees on the ground.

Thousands of people – students, big donors, delegates, politicians, activists – have all gathered in Denver for what they are convinced will be a historical event. No, I am not referring to my first forays into political blogging.

I am talking about the nomination of the first black candidate for a major political party in America and a man many are convinced will not only be the next president, but a great one of historical proportions. This, of course, means that everyone is trying to get as close to the stage as possible, which is located at one of the longer edges of the ellipse-shaped Pepsi Center. Since no one is happy to simply listen to the rules, sit in their seat, and watch the convention in peace there is almost total disarray as attendees try to hustle their way into lower level seating.

People crowd in the aisles and on the stairs just long enough for security to come around and kick them out. The convention floor itself is in constant motion as famous pols--- John Kerry and Tim Kaine to name two notables--- fight their way through adoring throngs. All this, of course, is taking place as known and unknown speakers are talking to what appears to be a crowd that is more interested in greeting each other. (For example, who decided to let the city clerk of Chicago give a speech? But I digress).

Somewhat similar to a baseball game, as the crowd continues chatting amongst itself, the show goes on. Amidst the chaos, the Obama media machine hums along. Sky boxes are constantly filled with news anchors and Obama surrogates. On the convention floor, there are three media islands where politicians spread the "Change" message. Some journalists even venture into the multitudinous crowd to hunt down politicians and hear the latest taking points. Of course, the stagecraft on the podium is seemingly flawless and tries to project the nights message. At the very least, it hides from the viewers at home the chaos that the convention speakers can see so clearly.

I also wanted to make one quick note on probably the emotional highlight of the evening: the tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. It was an emotional event replete with a video tribute and a speech by the senator himself. Members of the crowd were obviously concerned about his health--- remarking that he looked a lot healthier than he had in the past. One interesting (and poignant) moment came after Senator Kennedy's speech when he turned to greet the dignitaries that were standing behind him. As he turned, he revealed a large bald spot on his head that was a symptom of his surgery. The crowd, which up until that point had been cheering enthusiastically, went momentarily quiet at the shock of seeing such an obvious sign of his bad health. While the Obama campaign may have hoped in part to use a tribute to Senator Kennedy as a way of linking Obama to the Kennedy legacy, the crowd displayed genuine affection for the man and were obviously moved by this part of the program.


Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective on the the crowd. Thanks for the insight.