Monday, September 01, 2008

Day 4: The Experience of a Lifetime – Part II

Thursday, August 28

Walking down the ramp into the stadium, I was so full of anticipation and excitement. It was like entering the Mother of all Super Bowls. As I walked onto the field I was struck by the enormity of the stadium and of the occasion. The field area of the stadium contained all of the state delegations.

As I was trying to find our seating area, Lea called me on my cell and guided me there. She and Ken had gotten there earlier and were able to walk up onto the stage and take photos before the place started to fill up. The California delegation was seated off to the left of the podium (for the speaker), in between the Iowa and Colorado signs. The California sign was located way at the rear of our delegation’s seating area, unlike in the Pepsi Center. I guessed that we were in about the 14th row of seats. Because of the large size of the stage area, that put us about 40 yards from the podium.

My wife, Joan, got into the stadium before I did, even though she had walked all the way from the Sheraton, had arrived about 1:00 and had waited in line about 2 ½ hours to go through security. She called me as I was about to get off the delegate bus at the stadium.

There were many highlights to the day at Invesco: Al Gore’s speech, the moving musical entertainment, the line-up of about 20 generals and admirals who supported Barack, Barney Smith, and Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. and John Legend very beautifully sang “Yes We Can.”

Sheryl Crow sang four great songs. It amused me that the lyrics to her songs were on the teleprompter. I’m sure that Sheryl did not even look at them. The DNC was apparently just trying to be on the safe side to have a flawless presentation.

Stevie Wonder sang “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” During all of the songs, the delegates sang and danced along, and I and those around me several times joined arms and swayed to the music.

Al Gore spoke very convincingly about global warming and delivered some well-deserved attacks on the Bush-McCain polices. I had also seen and heard Al Gore in Austin at Netroots Nation in July.

After Al Gore spoke, five ordinary people (including some former Republicans), all from battleground states, who had suffered because of the Bush-McCain policies, let us in on their bad experiences. There was a small businessman from Indiana named Barney Smith, who was a former Republican. He concluded his short talk by saying he wanted a leader who would look out for Barney Smith instead of Smith Barney. The crowd roared and started chanting, “Barney, Barney…”

Barack Obama’s speech was filled with both soaring rhetoric as well as policy details. Obama covered all the bases and did everything he had to do and more. He seemed to hardly ever look at the teleprompter, and even when he did, he always had a conversational tone. He presented his biography to introduce himself to the American people. He put meat on the bones of his policy proposals. He made it clear that the Democratic Party is the party of the working class by focusing on many “lunch pail” issues.

I was pleased that Obama got very tough on McCain, going after him “hammer and tongs.” He questioned McCain’s judgment to be president, as well we all should. Obama said, “It’s not that he doesn’t care; it’s that he doesn't get it. … He doesn’t understand.”

This great line got a huge roar of approval also: “McCain voted with George Bush 90% of the time. Why would we take only a 10% chance that things will change?

I thought it was a defining part of the speech when Obama said that patriots are not Democratic or Republican. We fight next to each, bleed next to each other, and if necessary, die next to each other. We all fight under the same flag.

Barack Obama looked like, spoke like, and acted like a president of the United States. What a refreshing change after our eight-year national nightmare.

The end of the speech and the celebration with the fireworks and confetti turned out to be a very emotional moment. I shed some tears at one point when Kathy burst into tears. All of a sudden it just hit me that after 18 months of campaigning for this man and putting my heart and soul into his nomination, we had finally accomplished it – we had indeed changed this country and would now take our country back.

Then KGO-TV reporter Mark Matthews walked up the aisle right next to our group consisting of Kathy, Ken, Lea, Fred and me. He asked if any of us were Bay Area delegates, and we told him that we all were. He stuck the microphone in my face, and I blurted out about the 18 months of campaigning and, “It was so much! It was beyond my wildest dreams!” That quote made the 11:00 news in San Francisco.

As we were about to leave the field to exit the stadium, Ken and I were interviewed by a reporter and cameraperson (both happened to be women) from Tokyo TV. We each answered two questions.

I have so many details that keep coming to mind. I’ll post them in several shorter posts to come. I also took about 700 photos over the course of the convention. I’ll be posting some of those too.

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