What It Was Like Inside Obama’s Speech at Invesco

It’s a remarkable thing to watch one man address more than 70,000. Even from my vantage point right on the 50 yard line, Barack Obama’s head was only a dot. On video monitors to the right and the left of the Greek columns that surrounded the dot, massive versions of Mr. Obama’s face appeared. Two scoreboards on the upper deck showed two other even larger faces.

I don’t know what it looked like on television, but to say that within the stadium the speech worked is an understatement. As Mr. Obama slowly picked up momentum after the sun set and the Denver air turned cool, hundreds, thousands of flash bulbs went off – just like the Super Bowl when Adam Vinatieri kicked a winning field goal.

To be there, as I was, one of thousands, watching the men and women in the crowd boo in unison or wave American flags briskly back and forth or slowly rise to give the candidate a standing ovation was an entirely unique experience. I’ve seen Mr. Obama speak to more than 15,000 people in a basketball arena with Oprah Winfrey in New Hampshire. That was nothing like tonight.  To witness the group dynamic, to see not individual faces but red, white and blue masses undulating with the ebb and flow of the nominee’s cadences stands apart from anything I have experienced in American politics. The crowd itself became a political actor — beautiful and scary, mesmerizing and revolting.

When Mr. Obama trained his sights on the most successful attack of John McCain’s campaign, the charge that the Illinois senator was somehow a celebrity, the crowd erupted into an orgiastic frenzy. “I don’t know what of lives celebrities lead but this has been mine,” Mr. Obama orated. The next words were lost in a sea of hooting, cheering, bellowing and stomping.

After his jibe at Mr. McCain — seemingly on the command of the event’s stage manager — a wind began to blow from across the Rockies. Mr. Obama delivered the lines of the speech: “The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a red America or a blue America – they have served the United States of America.”

At this, the crowd thundered. Chants of “USA! USA!” sprang up. The passage, which evoked his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech, brought back all the promise of his keynote address.

When it was over, Mr. Obama stood on the stage alone and waved for what seemed like too long of a period. Too many moments passed without Michelle Obama and the children. It was awkward empty time. And then the pyrotechnics started, and streamers which shot out rocket like and then landed limp upon a video monitor and those all so controversial Greek columns.

Clearly Mr. Obama and his handlers were unafraid of pushing their acceptance speech too far. Everything about it was larger than life except for the streamers lying lifeless at the end.


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