7:03: The NYT published the Democratic National Committee’s talking points. Fun to read these things because they're so insipid:
*Joe Biden showed exactly why Americans are rallying behind the Democratic ticket to deliver the change the country needs.I love all that "exactly." I mean, if I were speaking in reliance on those talking points and someone followed up with the question, "You say he showed exactly what we need, but what exactly was so exact about what he said?," I would melt into a quivering pool of jelly.
* Last night, Joe Biden told it like it is. And everyone at the Pepsi Center—and around the nation—responded. He showed exactly why Americans are rallying behind the Democratic ticket to deliver the change the country needs....
7:31: Stevie Wonder!
7:38: He's singing "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." The stadium looks great -- still in daylight -- full of people, all supplied with flags, so there's lots of waving of flags, which gives a nice energetic movement to the crowd shots. Stevie changes the words: "I know Barack Obama's gonna set this country on fire and a lot of people all over this place are gonna say ooh, baby, here I am...." By the way, that set doesn't look at all like a Greek temple, as the early reports said. Maybe they worked to tone down anything that was temple-like about it.
7:45: Al Gore! If only he'd won the presidency, Bin Laden would be captured by now. The great thing about losing is that you can say whatever you want about what you would have done.
7:51: I said above that I didn't think the set looks like a Greek temple, but I want to remind you that when I originally wrote about it, I said: "So is this stage set going to seem like a Greek temple, with Obama as some phony god — from somewhere in Europe — or is it going remind us of the federal government — with Obama looking simply presidential?" Yet look at this sleazy, lying, underhanded post at Crooks and Liars, slamming me this way:
Never let it be said that Republicans and their counterparts in the conservative blogosphere (yes, Ann “I Like To Drink Wine and Blog About American Idol” Althouse, I’m looking right at you) can’t attempt to manufacture a scandal out of thin air that shows just how stupid they are. ...Uh, yeah, so you won't "dignify" me with a link because... why? Because it would show that I said all along that it could either look like a Greek temple, as Reuters reported, or it might look like federal government buildings, and we wouldn't know until we actually saw it. Nicole Belle, who wrote that post, is shamefully dishonest. She flaunts her dishonesty by not linking to the text she was writing about because it would show that her post is vicious character assassination. I associate Crooks and Liars with John Amato, who I think is a good person, and I call on him to do something about the sleazy post that is messing up his blog.
So Ann “Liberal Boobies Enrage Me” Althouse whips herself up into a righteous indignation, which is promptly echoed throughout the other sites. (I won’t dignify her with a link, look it up) How dare Obama? Is he trying to suggest that he’s a God or something??? The presumption! Do you see how messianic he is? His supporters are like a cult! (imagine her furious fingers typing away)
But see, here’s the problem, Ann. You clearly haven’t traveled. If you had actually ever gone to the seat of our federal government, Washington DC, guess what you’d see? Columns! Know why? Because most of our federal buildings were designed in an architectural style called…wait for it…Greek Revival. Which means, you know, lots of columns. Like the ones in the front and back of the White House–where Obama will reside in January, by the way. And the ones in front of the Lincoln Memorial, where exactly 45 years ago today, Martin Luther King gave a speech....
8:15: But I do agree with the statement: "Liberal boobies enrage her." My dictionary defines "booby" as: "1. A person regarded as stupid." (2 refers to a tropical seabird, which is probably invariably apolitical.)
8:18: Al Gore is still pontificating. Ah, now he's done. Sorry, I didn't say much about that speech. I was getting pissed off at the underhanded blogger who's been allowed to post at Crooks and Liars. Anyway. I'm over it now. The song playing Al Gore off the stage is "Let the Sun Shine In." I don't get it. If the sun shines in, it will add to global warming. They should have played something like this or this.
8:26: Hey, Biden is back. Why is he talking again? There should be no second orations. He seems to be setting up one of those sequences of ordinary people. If I couldn't pause the DVR and periodically fast-forward, this would be utterly intolerable -- even for me, loving to write, and knowing I have quite a few readers on this post. I find it very hard to believe anyone would watch this part of the show. But, okay, the throng in the stadium must be entertained. Maybe it's just perverse even to attempt to watch this part of the show.
9:00: An introductory film clip. Obama's mother said he needed to understand what it means to be an American. He only met his father once and "was shaped more by his absence than by his presence." His grandparents "weren't complainers." His mother saw his promise and did what she had to do: woke him up at 4:30 to teach him lessons. It makes me tear up to see the pictures of the mother, because she's not alive to see this. Very cute pictures of him as a teenager. Michelle is talking about how weird it was for him to be named "Barack Obama." "Barack Smith" or "Barry Obama" would be okay, but not "Barack Obama." But everyone called him "Barry" when he was growing up, so he must have thought it was an advantage to revive the unusual first name. His mother's death was one of the worst things that ever happened to him. (What were the other things on that level?) It made him realize that life is short and you need to work hard to achieve your goals.
9:11: (By chance, it's 9:11... in the Central Time Zone.) Obama ambles out. He's got a nice square-shouldered suit and a red tie. A flag pin! (Duh!) Flags everywhere, in fact. The background, in the close-ups, is not temple-like at all. It's peach-colored squares framed in dark wood.
9:14: "With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for President of the United States." Big cheers. A wide shot shows the glittering arena, which is not giving off any ominous night rally vibe (such as I've heard talk about).
9:16: Michelle, Malia, and Sasha — he's introducing them now — are wearing coordinating pink flowery sundresses. I like the way the 2 girls are completely different, the older one shyly ladylike and the younger one un-self-consciously cute.
9:20: He wants to keep the American promise alive. If we love the country, we shouldn't want "the next 4 years to look like the last 8." In an allusion to a TV show he probably watched -- his memoir says he watched a lot of TV with his grandfather -- he says "Eight Is Enough."
9:24: The bad economy -- but today's news was good -- is not just a state of mind and people who complain about it are not just "whiners." There is a tremendous stress on helping working people. I don't know that it's at all clear why Obama would help this situation, but he's certainly doing what he can to convince you he cares.
9:30: Good lord, Michelle's dress is completely encrusted with flowers. Are they 3-D? It's kind of making me sad. She's an accomplished professional woman, and it's as though they can't emphasize enough that she's a feminine, motherly helpmeet. And to have her dressed like the 2 little girls? Ooh. That twinges.
9:38: Equal pay for equal work. "I want my daughters to have the exact same opportunities as your sons." As if his daughters won't have far more opportunity.
9:41: He gets the biggest cheer of the night after saying he invites the debate over who will be the better Commander in Chief. "Don't tell me the Democrats won't keep us safe." He wants to restore the legacy of FDR and JFK. "I will never hesitate to defend this nation." But he'll make sure there is "a clear mission." "I will end the war in Iraq responsibly."
9:46: "Patriotism has no party."
9:48: "We can keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals." All right, then! Can I have an AK-47? I'm not a criminal. He's trying to say we can accommodate gun rights and gun regulations, but he won't admit to anything near the level of gun regulation he'd support, so he ends up sounding silly.
9:57: He ends with perfect timing, after referring to Martin Luther King's speech, which was given 45 years ago. At that time, people could have reacted in a negative way to the "dream deferred." But they didn't. They were hopeful. And we can be hopeful too. Now Michelle and the girls come out, and there are some modest (and very smoky) fireworks. Now, Biden strides out, looking Clintonesque. Confetti falls. Red, white, and blue streamers. We see a long shot, and the brightly lit audience is full of waving flags. Joe Biden squats down and points around in a half circle, like a rockstar. Create excitement, he must be thinking. Now, the streamers hang droopily, and a bunch more people come out. Who knows who they are? More fireworks. Lots of blowing confetti. There isn't much loud cheering, and it's not just that the microphones are turned down, because I hear one guy yell "Our next President!" A sweet closeup of Barack and Michelle nuzzling. As they are walking off the stage, Obama pauses, turns and looks up and around. He claps for the audience, starts to leave, turns back again -- the moment of a lifetime is almost gone -- and claps one more time.
11:22: So was it an improvement to switch to the open-air stadium? I think it wasn't. The enclosed Pepsi Center preserved and amplified the crowd noise. During the tedious speeches in the last few days, you could hear the din of conversation. But for Obama's speech, the people would be paying rapt attention, and the cheers would have had an intensity in the convention hall that was not quite there in the stadium. Also, the background was much more vivid indoors -- a deep, electric blue. In the stadium, we saw a fairly dull background. It looked like a backdrop from a cheap TV studio. Because there's no roof on Invesco Field, we were deprived of the traditional massive cascade of balloons. The fireworks and the shooting streamers and confetti didn't have the classic look and over-abundance that we would have seen inside with balloons. (Balloons! I want balloons!) Finally, we lost the sense of fulfilment that comes when the man we've been celebrating for days finally shows up in the place where everyone's been talking about him. To make up for that loss, Obama put in a perfunctory appearance at the Pepsi Center last night, but that messed up the narrative arc. We should have been aching with anticipation tonight, but we already greeted him last night.
11:47: The best speech of the convention -- it's no contest -- was given by Bill Clinton. No one else came close for me. Second best: Joe Biden. At the next level, I would put Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Barack Obama.