Tuesday, August 20, 2019 -
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Clinton’s night: A Hollywood blockbuster in search of an Oscar

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.
— Emily Dickinson

Last Wednesday night, the Democratic National Convention raced toward its conclusion like a Hollywood blockbuster in search of an Oscar.

After a lengthy and tough campaign, the final seal of party approval was handed to Barack Obama.

The healing and reconciliation between Obama and Hillary Clinton began the night before, when Hillary gave a rousing speech in support of her former foe.

On Wednesday afternoon, she moved to suspend the roll call of the states and formalize Obama’s nomination as the Democratic nominee for the president of the United States.

Former President Bill Clinton, the real star in Wednesday night’s long lineup of speakers, followed his wife’s lead with passion, wit and characteristic appeal.

Clinton sparkled on the dais like a conquering hero.

Delegates, politicians and celebrities reacted with starry-eyed, whipped-up frenzy.

“Everything I’ve learned in my eight years as president and in the work I’ve done since, in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job,” he said.

“But first we have to elect him.”

Clinton compared Obama’s life “to a 21st century incarnation of the American dream. His achievements are proof of our continuing progress toward the ‘more perfect union’ of our founders’ dreams.

“The values of freedom and equal opportunity that have given him his historic chance,” he said, “will drive him as president to give all Americans, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability, their chance to build a decent life, and to show our humanity, as well as our strength, to the world.”

As Clinton symbolically passed his Democratic presidential hopes to Obama, thousands jumped to their feet.

People who watched the Democratic National Convention on television witnessed the above from the quiet comfort of their own homes.

The actual experience often bordered on the chaotic.


Getting there was a war of wills.

Bodies in constant motion blocked the stairways leading to and from the floor.

Etiquette nosedived. Rules no longer applied.

It was all for none, and all for the floor.

>When someone noticed actress Susan Sarandon on an aisle seat, movement came to an abrupt halt as people gasped and craned their necks to get a closer look.

The real test of courage commenced on the convention floor.

People trying to walk a few inches closer to Clinton struggled like doomed fish against an immense emotional tide.

Those who lacked sufficient physical height found themselves engulfed by noise and severely limited horizons.

Even the tallest person didn’t fare much better.

Members of the press who were unaffiliated with major news venues received a special one-hour pass for the floor.

After 15 minutes surveying the mayhem, this reporter decided to return to the press box on the first floor.

By that time, the two divided stairways –– one way designated “up,” the other “down” for up –– had melded into a unified, downward path.

There was no exit.

Volunteers tried to get everyone to move to the proper side so that people trying to leave could do so.

The suggestion went up in indifferent smoke.

After repeated pleas that included the occasional untruth –– “Help me, I’m claustrophobic!” –– the sea parted.

Finally I circled around to the press area where I had traded my regular credentials for a temporary floor pass.

A black curtain hung menacingly across the entrance.

“Sorry,” a young man announced, “no more press allowed inside.”

When I informed him that my press credentials were being held hostage, the guardian of the curtain retrieved them.

“Here. But you can’t come back in.”

A line of reporters and cameramen stood outside the press area. Many faces flushed red with anger. Others grinned and bore it.

Dave, a print journalist from Santa Fe, said officials blocking the press entrance attributed the no-access policy to the Secret Service, “but now they are blaming it on the fire marshals.”

Twelve people carrying cameras and laptops suddenly walked inside the forbidden area.

“Who are they?”

“Joe Biden’s press crew.”

The perimeter outside the convention hall began filling up with reporters desperate to catch the action.

They eventually gathered in front of large, well-placed TV monitors.

Journalists took notes on their laptops or in notebooks.

Photographers snapped pictures of reporters taking notes.

A circle of delegates joined the entourage.

They applauded John Kerry, Claudia Kennedy, Tammy Duckworth.

People broke for beverages and food during an impromptu intermission before vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden took the stage.

“My mother’s creed is the American creed,” he said. “‘No one is better than you. You are everyone’s equal, and everyone is equal to you. My parents taught us to live our faith, and treasure our family. We learned the dignity of work, and we were told that anyone can make it if they try. That was America’s promise.

“For those of us who grew up in middle-class neighborhoods like Scranton and Wilmington, that was the American dream. And we knew it.”

The veteran senator’s relaxed conversational style, interspersed with well-aimed political jibes at John McCain, secured the audience’s adulation.

“Jill and I are truly honored to join Barack and Michelle on this journey,” Biden said.

“When I look at their young children, and when I look at my grandchildren, I realize why I’m here. I’m here for their future.”

Immediately after Biden’s speech, I rode the escalator to the main lobby.

A great and sudden roar erupted through the convention walls.

The whole lobby instinctively turned toward the TV.

Barack Obama, in a surprise appearance, emerged from the wings.

He hugged Biden and waved to the crowd.

After three long days of endorsements and praise, Democrats were hungering for the man behind the name.

Now he was here.

The waiting ended.

The countdown began.

On Thursday night at Invesco Field, the future would officially lift off.

Andrea Jacobs

IJN Senior Writer | andrea@ijn.com

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