DENVER -- Can he win in November? Yes, Barack Obama was the best Democrat in the field. Start with his charismatic yet cool demeanor. Add his compelling personal story -- and the inviting possibility that Obama's ascension to the White House could heal racial wounds in America -- and you understand why Democrats at Invesco Field would answer the above question with the familiar chant "Yes, we can."
McCainiacs can scoff at his celebrity, but Obama can pack a stadium. I have to credit Obama for not being cowed by the inevitability of Hillary Rodham Clinton and, thanks to his experience as a community organizer, for running a superb ground game.
Most important, Obama opposed the Iraq war vote in 2003 as other Democrats -- read: Clinton, running mate Joe Biden, Christopher Dodd and John Edwards -- voted to authorize the use of military force, only to show America that they lacked the will to see through what they had started.
Here's another reason Obama is popular: He doesn't tell the American people a single thing they do not want to hear. I take that back: Obama supports allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. Or at least he did during the primary.
Obama stayed within his party's lines, until the nomination was in the bag. Only then did he decide to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and realize that he might support offshore drilling.
The big issue is this: Barack Obama is whatever you want him to be. He says he wants to cut taxes for 95 percent of families. That's going out on a limb. Touting his energy package, Obama said, "Each of us must do our part to make our homes and business more efficient." He also has said, "Some sacrifice will be required." Sacrifice? Doing our part? There's no price tag, but he'll create 5 million new jobs and reduce energy costs. It's all good.
He wants to end the war in Iraq "responsibly." Who doesn't? He talks about sending more troops into Afghanistan, as if it were his idea. You'd never guess that President Bush has increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan from 28,000 to 32,000, and plans to send 10,000 more. As I watched conventioneers applaud Obama's rhetoric on going after Osama bin Laden, I wondered if they have the slightest clue of the sacrifice that entailed.
Thursday, DNC Chairman Howard Dean told those gathered at Invesco Field, "John McCain is not a maverick. John McCain is a yes man."
Here is your yes man: In 2007, McCain stuck out his neck as he pushed an immigration package that offered a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. It was poison for any GOP presidential hopeful. But he would not back down. When the bill failed, he pushed for a second vote -- despite the beating he was taking among Republican voters.
Yes, McCain now says he would not push for immigration reform until our borders are secure. So Obama takes the easy swipe at McCain for that. But when has Obama stuck out his neck like that?
"Next week, we'll also hear about those occasions when (McCain has) broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change we need. But the record is clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time," Obama told his fans. Later he expanded it to "the change we need right now" -- and it was 100 percent what his supporters wanted to hear.
GOP operatives have lampooned Obama's choice of venue and monument-like stage, calling it the "Temple of Obama." McCain is a town-hall kind of guy. Obama is a cathedral. He tells people what they want to hear, and the flock at Invesco Field worships him for it.
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