I was conquered.
He, she, they, were conquered by Denver. Impressed by the mountains.
By the friendliness.
The beauty of Pepsi Center.
The drama of Invesco.
Whoever wins the election, Denver has already won.
Its term will be a lot longer than four years.
A turning point.
Thats the watershed in the history of Denver.
Meaning: the history of how the world sees Denver.
Yes, the world.
Not just the country.
Beijing had its Olympics.
Denver had its convention.
Except that here, no fake images and no human rights abuses soiled the picture.
A glorious moment for our city.
Actually, for our way of life.
In touch with nature.
Got it together.
If the Democrats win in November, Ill tell you why.
A water bottle.
It comes down to that.
Heres the scene.
Long lines outside Invesco Field.
I mean, this is nine hours before Obama is scheduled to speak.
Very distant lines.
I mean, Invesco Field is hardly even visible.
Youre in the middle of Auraria.
Cant even see where youre going.
Like the Exodus.
People in front of you as far as the eye can see.
People in back of you.
As far as the eye can see.
15 minutes: you havent moved.
An hour: youve moved around that building over there, somewhere.
A pile of water bottles.
A huge container.
Filled with ice.
Here, take one, the guy says.
Need water? Its yours.
They thought this out down to that level of detail.
Invesco Field 80,000 people.
And it wasnt even in the plans.
Invesco was a last minute decision.
It turns out an orchestrated masterpiece.
Complex beyond belief.
With all that, somebody thought of the water.
Got it there.
Someone up in the sky saw the total picture.
Down to this level of detail.
Theyll need it.
They got it.
Just take it.
Whether you like these guys policies or not, they know how to get things done.
Thats the good news: technical competence.
Scripts that are thought out, and followed.
A very smooth-running machine, like a government should be.
Heres the potential bad news:
That are thought out, too thought out.
What was said at Invesco, the climax of the convention, that was not predictable?
When John Kerry says what Barack Obama says what Al Gore says what Bill Richardson says what everybody else says, and says more than once, about Bush and McCain, you wonder: Is there anything besides the script?
Any original thinking?
Anything beyond the mantra?
Any experience at coping with unscripted reality?
A hint gave away the store.
I sat in Invesco field seven hours.
I listened to 31 speeches.
Only a single one was not scripted.
It was by John Lewis, the veteran civil rights leader.
He spoke before prime time.
He spoke from the gut.
He did not play to the crowd.
Did not follow a script.
For him, the 45th anniversary of MLKs I had a dream speech was not an anniversary.
For him, the civil rights movement was not some abstraction.
He still feels the struggle.
He knew the people who suffered.
His memory is studded with the names of the people he knew who suffered.
He tried to bring this to those too young to know what it meant to suffer jail, or beatings, or indignities.
For John Lewis, the positive results of the civil rights movement leave him not only exhilarated, but exhausted.
Wary of the unpredictable.
He said something unpredictable: The road to victory will not be easy.
He knows, because the pain on his face marked his anguish for those who died in the struggle.
For those who did not live to see an African American nominated for president.
John Lewis was not riding the wave.
Was not scripted.
He stood in stark contrast to the other speeches: many compelling, clever, heartfelt. But scripted. Often, down to the same phrases.
Is a mantra change powerful enough to sell to the American voter?
Time will tell.
If anyone thinks rhetoric has disappeared from American life, think again.
This convention shot forth brilliant lines.
A line is not a sound bite.
A line is better than and beyond a sound bite.
It is rhetoric in the best sense.
Summing up a complex argument.
Or piercing in a different way.
In a final evening punctuated by highlight after highlight, Marty Smiths line brought down the house.
Or was it Barney Smith?
Not sure. Amid the energy filling Invesco, I couldnt always distinguish every word.
This is how it sounded to me:
Barney Smith lost his job when his plant closed.
He worked there 31 years.
Got 90 days of severance.
Was out of work 13 months.
All on George Bushs watch.
All because of George Bushs failed policies.
We need a president that puts Barney Smith before Smith Barney!
The stadium erupted in a deafening roar.
Howard Deans great line, the first words out of his mouth:
Im Howard Dean. Im chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and I know how many houses I own.
The night before, from Bill Clinton:
People have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.
Also the night before, Bo Biden recounted his fathers thinking not to be sworn in as senator after his election and after his mother was killed:
Delaware can get another senator, but my boys cant get another father.
Also from Bo Biden:
Four years later, my brother and I and my Dad married my mother Jill.
Two nights before, from Hillary Clinton:
George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days theyre awfully hard to tell apart.
Al Gore, after assuring us that John McCains polices will be the same as George Bushs:
I believe in recycling, but thats ridiculous.
Big oil and coal have a 50-year lease on the Republican Party.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson:
John McCain may pay hundreds of dollars for shoes, but we will pay hundreds of millions of dollars for his flip flops.
The most effective rhetorical device was John Kerrys lets compare Candidate McCain with Senator McCain. Kerry listed contradictions (Candidate McCain says X, Senator McCain said Y), and concluded:
Before he enters a debate with Barack Obama, McCain should finish the debate with himself.
Who was the most important speaker at the closing night of the Democratic National Convention?
Put it this way:
Who spoke the most times on stage at Invesco?
Thats not a mistake.
Yes, Ray Rivera was the most important speaker.
Never heard of him?
The first time, early in the afternoon, Riveras appearance seemed like a courtesy.
He is the state director of the Obama campaign, and he said hello.
A lot of people were put up on stage to more or less say hello.
Some got three minutes.
Some got five or ten.
I felt sorry for them.
It was noisy.
The stadium was maybe half full.
People were milling around, chomping on hot dogs.
Some paid attention to the party faithful.
Most waited for more music.
Some of the party faithful did a credible job.
But it was almost an embarrassment.
You felt sorry for people who were told that this was the biggest speech of their life, but the people were hardly listening.
Things picked up very slowly.
Rabbi David Saperstein gave a decent invocation.
City Councilwoman Elbra Edgeworth spoke then some others.
On came Gov. Bill Ritter (doubly burdened by laryngitis).
Followed by Reps. Ed Perlmutter. John Salazar. Diana DeGette.
Now a video.
Pictures of Howard Dean building up the Democratic Party.
The audience began to focus.
Then came John Lewis.
He was moving.
Now, evocative clips of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Then, two children of MLK speak.
The 45th anniversary.
The tempo quickened.
Suddenly: Please welcome, a second time, Ray Rivera.
Whats this? He already said hello.
A nobody speaking twice?
Rivera is totally relaxed.
He says: Last week we announced Joe Biden by text message.
Take out your phone and send a text message to six other states. Colorado has a home state advantage today.
Heres the number: DNC 622-62 and well get you information on volunteering.
Rivera explains this a second time.
It is now 6:05 p.m. Democratic candidate for US senator from Colorado Mark Udall steps up to speak.
Then Virginia Gov. Tim Kane.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson delivers a rousing hoot-and-hollering speech.
This convention is coming to a climax.
You know where this is heading.
Susan Eisenhower (I speak not as a Democratic or a Republican, but as an American).
A slew of generals and admirals say why they support Obama.
Now Joe Biden and his six Americans, like Barney Smith, telling their stories on script, the failed policies of George Bush.
Suddenly: I look up. Whats this?
Text messages flow across the Invesco scoreboard.
Kevin When the mass shares a common hope, we can change the world.
Suddenly: Ray Rivera.
Up on stage.
A third time!
Its 7:45 p.m.
In the last hour, weve had over 34,000 text message sign-ups.
Thats Ray Rivera speaking.
This is the largest nomination speech in United States history.
Its now clear: Ray Rivera is running this thing.
Ray Rivera embodies the technology which grew the Obama campaign.
By his repeat appearances, Ray Rivera is saying: Obama is master of the new technology.
Which means: master of the young generation.
Which means: this campaign machine is unlike any seen before.
Only if you dont get the new technology.
If you dont, rest assured: Millions do.
Millions who are voting for Barack Obama.
When Obama finally appears, he is where he is due to his understanding that Ray Rivera is not a nobody.
Just the opposite.
Hes running the whole thing.
Is he overconfident?
Time will tell.
The Jewish thing.
Jews wove their way through this convention.
Start with the way it began.
With Steve Farber.
Start with the historic Jewish Democratic vote.
Continue with phone calls.
Jews work this convention, and work each other.
Its a network within a network.
The pro-Israel lobby is a site to behold.
It sponsored a breakfast for Jewish Democratic members of Congress.
Every one of them could not say fast enough, firmly enough, and could not repeat enough, how he (or she) supports Israel.
The impressive part is that you know that exactly the same meeting will take place again, the next week, with Jewish members of Congress who are Republicans.
Not to mention, a separate meeting has already been held for the Jewish US senators.
Not to mention, its not only the Jewish members of the House and Senate whom the pro-Israel lobby cultivates.
Classic modus vivendi: the venue is classy, the food is good, the food is kosher.
The atmosphere is mishpocha.
I represent America.
I stand for Israel.
Thats the level to which Jews and their Jewish elected officials, at the highest level in the land, have come.
Who can be the most pro-Israel?
Thats the spirit today.
The Jewish thing.
Come to Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi.
Can we be in your office in 45 minutes?
Jennifer speaks the way she moves.
She founded The Israel Project.
The old story.
If you want it done, do it yourself.
She went to AIPAC.
They all told her: Great idea. Just . . . its not on our agenda. If you do it, you have our blessing.
Translation: Raise the money.
Do it yourself.
Heres the point: Israel gets hacked in the media because journalists arent educated on Israel.
And because no one tests scientifically how readers and viewers view Israel.
Translation education: Take journalists on a helicopter ride over all of Israel.
Show them how small it is.
How vulnerable it is.
Give them facts.
Translation research: Find out what Americans really think of Israel through focus groups.
The Israel Project learns, for example, Dont say, Palestinian terrorist.
Say, Iran-backed terrorist.
People dont get Palestinian terrorists.
They do get Iran.
A slight shift in phrase.
A big shift in impact.
Thats the research of The Israel Project, supplied to Israeli diplomats and Jewish organizations.
Another example: the relationship between Iran and Venezuela.
Venezuelas Chavez has been to Iran 13 times.
Irans Ahmadinejad has been to Venezuela fives times.
Theres actually an organization: Hezbollah, Venezuela.
That say a lot.
The Israel Project gets its fact and research into TV ads.
The project provides the media savvy Israel has long needed.
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, mother of two, came to Denver to get facts and research to journalists and politicians who swarmed the city.
Come to the National Jewish Democratic Committee.
Specifically, its panel on ethics.
Not this time.
Ira Forman, head of NJDC, gathered Jewish politicians and activists.
They had a lot to say.
First, who they were was impressive.
That is, Jews play the political process from many angles.
To be elected, yes.
Also, to manage elections.
Or, to support specific candidates.
To support, not candidates, but specific issues.
Or, to run a program that introduces teens to the political process.
Or, to teach what the Torah says about politics.
Jews are in politics in many ways.
To run for office and lose. That, too, provides a potential Jewish perspective on politics and ethics.
Some 15 people sit around the table, including Denvers Joyce Foster.
Among the comments:
Jews are hardwired for justice.
The stranger, the widow, the orphan the Torah tells us to seek justice for them.
Jews value reasoned argument.
The Talmud preserves the minority opinion.
The Torah values truth telling.
But its not a Kantian imperative. There are exceptions.
When you look for a leader, dont look for perfection.
Look for someone who can admit a mistake. Thats why Judah, not Joseph, was chosen for royalty.
The Republican Jewish Coalition should be ashamed of itself.
Im pleased to see the RJC attack Joe Biden on Israel because its so uncredible. Whereupon Ira Forman interjects: The NJDC may also have committed ethical lapses.
The most important commandment: A Jewish politician has to behave in a way not to bring disrespect to G-d.
Do not profane the name of G-d (Leviticus).
Negative advertising is OK.
Provided its truthful, proportionate and relevant.
Im in the tikkun olam business.
I show up every day and try to make the world a better place.
Joyce, would you want them next to you?
The lowest moment of my career on City Council was trying to place a Group Home in my district. My father would be here today if there were such a place.
You need to answer every question on the questionnaire.
The nurses lobby wanted a lower nurse-patient ratio. But theres a shortage of nurses. A lower ratio could make things worse. So, how do you answer the nurse lobbys questionnaire?
You dont oppose a policy because you dont like the person who proposes it.
Hillary got criticized because she supported Bushs idea to declare Irans Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.
When I told my friends Id be sitting on a panel on Jewish ethics, they wondered whether Id be representing the opposing view.
Next to the command not to say leshon ha-ra (slander) is the command not to stand idly by the spilling of your friends blood. Barack Obamas blood is being spilled politically. We must respond to those attacks. We can be aggressive as campaigners and not feel we are violating Jewish values.
Its difficult to be a Jew. Its extremely difficult to be a Jewish political operative.
Its very difficult to obey Jewish imperatives and still win.
How far can a 501 3c group go to speak up, say, the truth about Obama?
A rabbi cant take a political stance on the pulpit if he hasnt done so consistently.
There are lies about Obama.
But its also a lie to say that McCain is Bush redux. See both sides. We shouldnt do what defamers of Obama do.
Come to The Cell.
Center for Empowered Living and Learning.
Next to Denvers new art museum are the museum residences.
On their first floor is The Cell.
An exhibit on terrorism.
Anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Thats the motto.
The exhibit is multi-media.
Video feeds of terrorism.
And of experts on terrorism.
Questions and answers about terrorism.
Terrorism doesnt discriminate.
Very powerful presentation.
The Cell opened in time for the convention.
Its Larry Mizels brainchild.
And his daughter Courtney Greens handiwork.
Five years in the making.
The Mizel Museum of Judaica was going to move from BMH to the JCC, but as things turned out theres now a Mizel arts center at the JCC, a Mizel museum on South Kearney plus, The Cell.
A lunch followed the first tours.
Mayor Hickenlooper spoke.
Ditto, Rep. Perlmutter.
Steve Farber came.
Lots of volunteers.
The speaker, Brian Jenkins (the same expert whos broadcast in The Cells exhibit), was learned, dispassionate, articulate, frightening.
Clearly, the topic strikes a cord.
I wondered why a model (real?) suicide-bomber vest was on display could this supply knowledge, or motivation, to a potential terrorist?
The Cell is sure to be a focus of attention and comment.
And evidence, if evidence were needed, that one cannot be in more than one place at one time. While the tour of The Cell was underway, Jewish political operatives and Democratic political operatives fanned out about the city.
North Dakotas two senators landed two houses down from mine.
The American Jewish Committee hosted the diplomatic corps.
Protesters rallied against a divided Jerusalem.
Rabbis hobnobbed with priests and imams.
The weather cooperated.
Police stopped trouble before it started.
The mountains sparkled, visible, as always, in the distance.
As it never shone before.