DENVER – If the riot police didn’t finish the week swinging, at least Barack Obama did. There were questions all week, all month, all summer about whether Senator Obama had lost his edge or his oomph after his long and bruising primary fight with Hillary Clinton. All such questions were dispelled tonight during a barnburner of an evening at Invesco Field in Denver, where 84,000 Americans were hanging from the rafters and elating at 42 minutes of Barack Obama’s best oration in a season of orations that left even the most jaded souls with a lump in their throat and a dollop of drool pooling in the corner of their agape mouths.
Message: America wants change and you aren’t it–and if we have to, we’ll replay your shameless hug with George W. Bush over and over and over and over in case anyone forgets–and if you’d like to throw down and talk about who is more capable Chief Executive material, I’ll meet you in any bowling alley parking lot any day, any time, and we can fight it out like men.
Chances are, John McCain had three Halcion with his dinner and bourbon rocks tonight and was out before the 7:00 PM Everybody Loves Raymond rerun was over. What’s the use? He knew Obama was going to outdraw his largest to-date audience at least 28 fold, and the only thing to do was sleep through the debacle and get a fresh start at the office in the morning.
To call the Republican response flaccid would be a cheap joke at the expense of their aged nominee. Objectively speaking, it wasn’t very firm, it didn’t stand strongly on its own, and it looked awful and embarrassing to the naked eye. It was probably a boilerplate response that Steve Schmidt issued his first day on the campaign with the directive that “we know what kind of speech Obama is going to give, so let’s gloss over the details, ignore any specifics he presents by saying he offered none, and call him out of step with ordinary Americans. Everyone can get a good sleep on Thursday night and we can start the damage control on Friday.”
This isn’t going to be a good week for the Republicans. It’s usually an advantage to convene after the other party and steal their bounce, but though they may have expected Obama would hit it out of the park this week, no one in the GOP counted on him hitting it into the parking lot of a Wal-Mart two counties over. There are many dark places to be at this moment (11:13 PM MST), but few can be darker than the McCain War Room, where they must be feeling something akin to what Vanilla Fudge felt after Led Zeppelin opened for them.
ELSEWHERE IN TOWN: Wayne and I (and our trailing film crew) had a relatively uneventful day through the early afternoon. We had our list of things to get done and the cameras and mics shadowed our every move. We visited the queue outside Invesco, and walked another few miles to the Pepsi Center, where William Kristol, Mike Murphy, and a small cadre of FOXNews shills were on their way to bloviate outside the stadium. Our Starfucker needle was barely fluttering and we decided to gawk at the recycling volunteers sifting through the Pepsi Center trash from last night’s Joe Biden event instead.
We stopped for lunch and then wandered over to Union Station, to grab some souvenirs to prove that we were in Denver (it didn’t occur to us that the footage the film crew was taking might be enough). I spent too much of my hard-earned wampum on some poorly-made, uninspired, and downright lame buttonry, until we noticed that we’d stumbled right onto the MSNBC Pavillion.
Chris Matthews was just wrapping up Hardball and an interview with Bill Richardson. Matthews’ hair was strangely still after last night’s deranged-scientist-in-wind-tunnel disaster. Just for fun, as we often do when we’re on our political junkets, we did a little digging Monday night and found out where, among many other pundits, Chris Matthews was staying. Wayne has long had issues with his own hair’s manageability, until his barber turned him onto the magic of Molding Wax. Wayne’s was gone from the bathroom at our rental house today, and Matthews’ hair looked disciplined and well in order, while Wayne’s was as wild and unkempt as it was when he got his John C. Calhoun ‘doo two autumns ago. I haven’t asked Wayne about it because I only recently put the pieces together, but, since he got out of rehab, he has a lot of extra energy and many a long sleepless night with many hours on his hands, and we did have Matthews’ lodging information, so it’s anyone’s guess what happened while I was asleep Tuesday or Wednesday night.
David Gregory came out for his 3:00 PM Race For The White House, accompanied by Leonard Pitts from the Washington Post, Norah O’Donnell, and Rachel Maddow. We were going to seize the opportunity to promote Veeps: Profiles In Insignificance for the panning TV cameras, holding up our Biden sign from last night’s hoopla at the Pepsi Center to grab their attention and holding a copy of our galley right below it, but just before they came out of a commercial break, the 9/11 Conspiracy Morons came on with a siren-equipped bullhorn, one Tim McVeigh-looking imbecile on top of his equally dimwitted minion’s shoulders, shouting their tired, tired, and woefully uninsipred “9/11 was an inside job! 9/11 was an inside job! 9/11…” (You get it).
What I wouldn’t have given for someone to slice the hamstring of the young man carrying the moron-in-chief on his shoulders, sending both toppling to the ground, where the rest of the good people there to watch Gregory and his panel could stand harmlessly but effectively on the two basement-dwelling conspiracist idiots until the show was over.
In any case, the big show is over, but our work is not yet done. We’re leaving and flying back to our respective ‘hoods tomorrow, but expect a full Denver post-mortem over the next weekend.
THANK YOU FOR PLAYING (Addendum: 8/29/08, 7:45 AM MST):It’s going to be hard to bring any kind of hoopla–real or contrived–to Dayton, Ohio, this afternoon for John McCain’s Vice Presidential pick this afternoon. Early reports indicated that, after Senator Obama’s 84,000-strong party coronation, John McCain was having to give away free Cincinnati Bengals tickets just to attract 10,000 to his VP kickoff. In a moment of pluckish chutzpah that would have been rebranded as utter insanity if it had gone past the trial balloon stage and onto actual execution, the McCain camp toyed with the idea yesterday of naming their pick Thursday afternoon in an attempt to wrest the news cycle away from Obama and his upcoming biggest speech of the last half-century.
In the end he decided on being devoured by the post-speech news cycle instead and will still reportedly make his pick today. Early reports are that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has the inside track, but I’m sticking to my earlier call that with a three-month-old Down’s-afflicted child, continuing to run the physically largest state in the union and embark on a grueling nine-week national campaign with several children, including one special-needs child at home, isn’t a prospect that any mother would want to take on. TIm Pawlenty hopefully cleared his schedule for Friday, but by the beginning of the morning news cycle, he admits that he now knows he isn’t the choice (and any chance of that happening ended when Obama picked Biden and Pawlenty supporters knew he’d be eviscerated in a mano a mano with the Man from Scranton).
That leaves your 2008 GOP Vice Presidential nominee…Governor Mitt Romney.