‘He did what he needed to do’ | AspenTimes.com

‘He did what he needed to do’

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad The Aspen Times

DENVER ” When Sen. Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency on Thursday, he did it in such a way that convinced his fans, at least, that he is ready and capable to face the coming election battle with Republican John McCain.

“He did what he needed to do,” said Aspen delegate Blanca O’Leary, explaining that Obama, in his speech at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium, took the gloves off and started swinging back at McCain, who has been airing a series of television ads and making speeches highly critical of Obama’s ability and preparedness to lead the nation.

“Everyone’s complained that he doesn’t do that,” O’Leary said of Obama, referring to his disinclination to trade political punches with McCain. “And he did do it, and he did it very, oh, what’s the word I want? He was very specific and precise about how he was answering the questions [posed by McCain’s ads], but he did answer all the questions.”

And, O’Leary predicted, the speech will go far in further laying out Obama’s plan for the country, in a way that most U.S. voters might not be familiar with.

“Most Americans aren’t political junkies like us,” she said, referring to delegates to the national political conventions. “This is when they start listening, at the conventions and particularly around Labor Day. A lot of people haven’t heard what he’s going to do for America. He talked about that a lot at the town halls, but unless you got to hear him at one of the town halls you wouldn’t know it. And he put all the town halls together in this speech, and that’s great, he answered the big questions about his policies.”

For example, she said, Obama gave specifics about accusations that the administration of outgoing President George Bush has abetted the flight of jobs overseas, which said would not change if McCain were elected, a charge that McCain rejects.

O’Leary also pointed to McCain’s heavy emphasis on the need to increase offshore oil drilling along America’s coastlines to decrease the country’s dependence of foreign oil.

Such policies, according to Obama and, by extension, O’Leary, would not actually produce oil for a decade or more, and do not offer a viable long-term solution to the country’s energy problems.

“He addressed the problems about patriotism, and that we all think of our country first, and things like caring for your neighbors who have less than you do, turning off the TV so your kids will study and go to sleep, just every day stuff like that,” she continued.

As for the question of whether Obama is ready for the upcoming battle, O’Leary and the vice-chair of the Colorado Democrats say he is.

“Tonight he showed he is ready,” declared Dan Slater of Canon City, the number two of the state’s democratic party. “I have no idea how the Republicans can adequately respond to what he said tonight. There’s no way John McCain can match that, because he just doesn’t have the ideas.”

Another Roaring Fork Valley delegate, longtime news man Nick Isenberg, said he liked the speech, too, but noted, “I was even more moved last night when Hillary Clinton announced that New York was supporting Barack Obama.

And, he said, he was impressed that the Obama campaign brought in Melissa Etheridge, an openly gay musician, to play during the week’s events, which Isenberg took as an example of the party’s openness and tolerance.

“I just cried and cried. I was so proud to be a Democrat, the party that gives everybody a chance,” Isenberg said.


The rules at the Democratic National Convention in Denver seemed to relax Thursday, to the point where I could have ridden my bicycle right up the Pepsi Center’s frontage road without meeting a security checkpoint ” but no farther, said a friendly but unyielding Latino with the orange shirt of the volunteer sub-security brigade.

Some habits are hard to break, I guess, despite the fact that there was nothing happening at the Pepsi Center and no one to secure.

Over at Invesco Field, however, security was so tight it made Pepsi look like an open-air love-in. Men and women in official garb had smiles on their lips as they told you to go somewhere else, but none in their eyes.

The usual SNAFUs (Situation Normal, All F****d Up) held true, of course. Credentials oversights left me sitting in the nosebleed seats for awhile, though I managed to sneak onto the “floor” for Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. The upside of my earlier banishment to the high decks, of course, was that I met some interesting people in the same predicament, and commiseration is a powerful bond.

As always, there was humor to be found.

For instance, they have special “media elevators” at Mile High Field, but during a big event like this one they’re completely overwhelmed, slow, and filled to the brim with grumpy reporters and photographers for every trip.

To compensate, some of us took to using a freight elevator at the perimeter edge of the structure, clearly with the blessing of the management, as I can scarcely imagine some low-heeled lackey taking it on himself to break the rules like that.

So, lowing like cattle as we moved onto the platform and watched the sectioned gates slam shut, we were occasionally treated to the sight of VIPs getting off their own special elevator right next to the freight lift. This provided great material for yukking it up among the plebes as we rose toward the heavens ” or at least the upper levels of the stadium.

All in all, this week in Denver has fulfilled my cynical expectations about the organizational ineptitude of all large organizations, my own included.

On the other hand, the raw energy of the crowd on Wednesday night after Obama’s nomination, and the repeat of that energy for his Thursday night acceptance speech, was surprisingly invigorating, even warming.

Sometimes even a crusty old scribe like me gets a little soft in the solar plexus. Just don’t let it get around.

” John Colson

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