Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Matter of Convention

The only game in town last week was the amassing of Democrats in Denver, so missing the opportunity to comment on it was just, well, unfathomable.

Unfortunately, I must plead exhaustion. The effort of getting two kids ready for school, arrangements made for after-school pickup and dog-sitting is usually enough to occupy my day but add in getting to the bus and the Pepsi Center by 10 am to ensure entrance, then working at a fairly regular pace for 8 hours before heading home to get everyone ready for the next day.

Nonetheless, I did it, not wanting to miss the chance to be a part of this history-making event. I just didn't get around to writing about it for a while.

My DNC experience began a few weeks ago when I was notified that my skills would be of use in the public affairs division (and here I thought politicos tried to keep their affairs private). The next email informed me that I was to be part of the Talking Points crew, so I conjured visions of grandeur as one of the people to decide what conventioneers would be talking about.

That little bubble burst on Saturday, the pre-convention volunteer orientation day. The reality was that I would be stuffing envelopes with DNC-provided "talking points" and likely delivering same to delegates. Oh well, at least I'd get to be a part of the action. And we were promised that entry to the highly coveted Obama acceptance speech would be allowed for any who desired it.

Even the promise of such a coup (shared by 75,000 of our closest friends) began to lose its sparkle Sunday afternoon when the reality of the whole DNC situation came crashing down amid protesters, long and unshaded lines of people and many, many riot-gear-clad police. In short, lots of people wanted to get in to the Pepsi Center and the security detail wanted to be veeerrryyy careful about who those people were and what they brought in with them.

Amid this chaos, though, occurred a truly remarkable event. As I stood with a colleague in the noonday sun awaiting our chance to pass through the magical portal to political paradise, I noticed a man wearing a shirt proclaiming his press affiliation, Cox Newspapers. We weren't doing a lot else, so I asked him which of the Cox Newspapers he worked for. He replied Dayton and asked if I, too, worked for Cox. I noted that I once had, many moons ago. At that point, he extended his hand and introduced himself as Jeff Bruce, once my boss in Austin, Texas. For the rest of the day, my brain trilled out the Disney song, "It's a Small World."

Close encounters of personally and world famous people were sparse after that in part because I moved to another assignment, vaguely known as Press Distribution. It entailed transcribing the many, many speeches of the convention from the Teleprompter (i.e. type large enough to be read across the room) to single-page reproductions of what the speakers planned to say. Verbatim. Even if it wasn't all that accurate. Or grammatical. I had to restrain the editor in me from making Al Gore just a little more comprehensible.

But I was able to see some bits and pieces of the convention, much of it on the monitor in our work area. And The Big Speech, of course. As promised, we were awarded entrance to the Invesco event, complete with our own American flags and Change placards to wave at appropriate moments. Even the trudge through some very questionable parts of Denver was worth the effort. There were, after all, more than enough police -- we would be safe.

In fact, that would be my only complaint: There were too many uniformed personnel making a little bit too much of a show of force. It was quite surreal to walk across Speer Blvd. in the middle of the morning rush hour without even glancing at the traffic light because the intersection was barricaded. Being "wanded" while walking over Cherry Creek seemed extreme, and the corps of officers marching down 16th Street one afternoon looked a little too much like my idea of Germany's SS. In all, though, it seemed to me that Denver did an admirable job.

1 comment:

Rosemary Carstens said...

Kathy: Thanks for sharing your experiences at the DNC--I am in awe of all of the BMW members who put in those long hours to support this historical event by doing all the background chores that made the stars shine when we saw it all on TV each evening. I was on the west coast doing research, but hurried to my room each night to see the next "episode" of this fantastic event. Rosemary Carstens http://carstensFEAST.blogspot.com