The star of the Democratic National Convention wasn't Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Hillary's husband -- certainly not Joe Biden or even Barack Obama. The single-most riveting presence at the Democratic gathering -- possibly the entire Democratic political season -- was that kooky-bizarro set with the faux-marble columns straddling the 50-yard line of Invesco Field in Denver. In this veritable neo-Graeco-Roman-Graceland temple, the Anointed One became the Nominated One.
Or so I assume. Confession: I wrote on the morning of Obama's evening acceptance speech, confident that nothing could speak more volumes to the American people than the sight of this grandiose venue deliberately crafted for the address. Besides, even as Obama's media squeezes are still pounding out the anticipatory PR hearts and flowers -- the Washington Post breathlessly reveals that Obama was earlier "crafting a first draft by hand on yellow paper" -- the bookies have already reduced the speech to a probable set of cliches. Not only was it a sure thing that the nominee would use the phrase "I accept," but bookmaker Paddy Power also gave 12-to-1 odds that he would use the phrases "I'd like to thank my wife," "as I stand here today," "fundamental belief" and "defining moment."
Zzzzz... Sorry. Whatever is remembered about what Obama said, the essential point is this: He decided to say it at a plywood Parthenon by klieg light. At least, I hope he did. I hope he stood firm against the early guffaws elicited by those first fuzzy photos to appear during convention week depicting the temple columns rising amid 76,000 seats and 450 spotlights in Mile High Stadium, a sight that increasingly looked less Leni Riefenstahl and more "This Is Spinal Tap."
After all, the Obama campaign hasn't been immune to similar criticism. According to the London Telegraph, John McCain's commercial depiction of Obama as a vapid "celebrity" after his last rally for the masses in Berlin effectively sent all manner of vapid celebrities into hiding during the convention. This was because, the paper reported, convention planners had ruled against pop stars making cameo convention appearances -- an indication of "how Republican rival Sen. John McCain's effort to turn Mr. Obama's fame into a weakness has rattled the Democratic campaign."