Going to a national political convention is unlike anything else. Everywhere one turns, there are stories ready to be and interesting characters to interview. In other words, to call it a carnival would be a gross understatement.
Third Congressional District candidate Ben Ray Lujan walked through
the Big Tent. A TV station from Spain interviewed Ben Ray Lujan -- then turned around and interviewed this blogger an hour later.
Friends mentioned seeing Charles Barkley, Eva Longoria and the Daily Show news team throughout the Mile High City. Tom Udall spoke
on the big stage and Bill Richardson was mysteriously bumped
from the schedule with no explanation until near midnight
I saw Lucifer (and interviewed him
) standing next to an angel just outside the Big Tent.
Protesters from Moms Rising
paraded through the Big Tent
before being escorted out.
Oilman T Boone Pickens gave a panel on his energy plan and fled without answering any questions from the dozens of bloggers in attedance. Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, and internet legend Joe Trippi all walked through the Big Tent.
President Bill Clinton received a standing ovation from those watching on TV as did Barack Obama's vice presidential pick Sen. Joe Biden.
And that was all just on Wednesday.
Every other day was just as jampacked in the Big Tent, and even more so around the city.
The number one thing I will take away from this convention is a sense of being overwhelmed. A sense of paralysis from the dozens of possible stories waiting to be written; but by the time one sits down at the computer, one has already seen another two stories that deserve to be mentioned.
In other words, for every story a reporter writes, there are two that the reporter wanted to write about. For every story the reporter wanted to write about, there are five the reporter didn't see but would have wanted to write about. And for every story you see in every newspaper or blog, there are a hundred that will never get written for one reason or another.
It's times like seeing Gov. Patrick liveblogging at Blue Mass Group
(a Massachusetts progressive blog) that things start to seem surreal. Or maybe it was when explaining to a journalist from London why John Tester -- a Senator from Montana -- received such a warm reception from bloggers at the Big Tent. Or maybe it was sitting two people down from an unshaven Sam Seder -- former Air America radio host -- typing away on his computer at nine in the morning. Or seeing Mo Rocca and his amazingly blue suit and getting a head nod from the former Daily Show contributor and frequent panelist on NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Or when Markos Moulitsas was yelled at by the man who prosecuted the Charles Manson case for not reviewing his newest book.
This isn't to say the Big Tent was perfect; Internet was spotty for some and I'm a little surprised fist-fights didn't erupt because of the power situation (it was, after all, a big tent). The place was dominated by the same type of faces I have seen at all these blogging events; many times, Moulitsas and I were the only Latinos in the tent. There was a similar number of black and Asian bloggers.
But it was definitely worth it; nothing in this world is perfect, and I'd put the Big Tent much
closer to the "perfect" end of the scale than the "clusterfuck" end that it could have easily devolved into; it was well-run and the workers and volunteers did a Herculean task and deserve all of our thanks.
The real action at the convention is nowhere near the floor. The floor, while impressive, is a scripted event. The participants in the roll call drama knew the outcome of the drama before cameras even started rolling or the delegates cast their first votes.
As for the delegates, I envy them. The only real responsibility they have -- the floor vote -- is scripted by others above them. Other than showing up to the Pepsi Center (on their shuttles set aside for them) the only real reason they have to be in Denver is to attend parties and hobnob with other delegates. Must be nice to be handed tickets to the hottest parties in town and smoke cigars and have rum and cokes with the Washington D.C. elite.
But as a first-time attendee, I was able to see something that no one else had seen before -- along with 75,000+ of my closest friends, I was able to see Barack Obama accept the nomination in front of a huge crowd. I was able to see the crowd waving American flags and chanting "Barney! Barney! Barney!"
I was able to see the confetti shoot in the air and drape over the stage as Michelle Obama, the Obama's two daughters and the Bidens joined Obama on-stage. I was able to see the fireworks shoot into the clear, warm Denver night.
I was able to have a night I'll never forget.
Despite the large amount of Beltway insiders invading Denver, the people of Denver were remarkably accomodating, nice and helpful. The few times I was lost, I just asked someone on the street where to go, and they gave me directions to my destination. If I asked for a place to eat, they directed me to a good restaurant. When I remarked on how great the people of Denver had been to me and others all week, a man (who had just given me directions) said, "Glad we could have you."
I'll be back in Denver to visit sometime in the near future. And the next city to hold the DNC -- and St. Paul with the Republican National Convention -- will have a lot to live up to.