The Democratic national convention officially kicked off this afternoon, and anybody who doesn't have an official credential can forget about getting within a mile of the Pepsi Center
, Denver's equivalent of the Rose Garden arena.
The arena and its perimeter are enclosed in an extraordinary security cordon: Streets all around the arena are closed; the light rail service is truncated, and to get inside, you have to go through a metal detector, empty your pockets and prove your laptop, camera and cell phones aren't bombs.
Then, when you get inside, the scene is some combination of fraternity rush and a clearance sale at Nordstrom's: throngs of over-caffeinated political junkies and way too many reporters (15,000 media in Denver according to the DNC) milling aimlessly around.
Watching from home, you might get the idea that the endless conga line of talking heads is captivating the assembled delegations. Not exactly.
It was remarkable to watch this afternoon as two heavy hitters (and many others) got completely ignored: Illinois State Sen. Emil Jones Jr.
(above) an early political mentor of Obama's, and Reg Weaver
(below), the president of the 3.2 million strong National Education Association.
As both men extolled Obama's virtues, delegates chatted, wandered around and barely seemed to notice them or most of the other speakers who took the podium before Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy and, after him, Michelle Obama finally arrived.
Oh, and not to beat a dead horse, but the Oregon delegation's location is even worse than previously reported: They are behind Puerto Rico and have a worse vantage point than the delegation from American Samoa.
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