Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama at Mile High

By Michael J.W. Stickings

"Dems nervous about Invesco risks," claims the rightist Politico, but, as Creature put it earlier today, this is just another Republican talking point. Some Democrats may be internalizing it -- Democrats are awfully good at that, letting the Republicans control the narrative -- but, from what I can tell, it's Republicans are are making way too much ado about Obama's Mile High appearance tonight, not Democrats.

My own concern, which I expressed last month, is that the sheer spectacle of it all might just be too much:

[A]t what point, if at all, are people turned off by this? Put another way, will there be any pushback against Obama for giving his speech at such a large venue. Even if the spectacle is awesome, even if the 75,000 in attendance are really into it, will it drive a wedge between Obama and the audience watching the spectacle on television? Will it increase the distance between Obama and the voters? Will it create (or enhance) the perception that Obama is an elitist who is simply too detached from, and hence out-of-touch with, mythical Main Street America? After all, McCain may be a terrible orator, but at least most people can relate to an old guy who doesn't speak so well in public. Few of us can relate to a rock star.

I'm not overly concerned, but I think Obama needs to counterbalance the grand spectacle by giving a speech that is not just soaring and inspiring, a message of hope and change, an appeal to the best of America, but grounded in the very real problems facing America and the world, a speech that keeps it real, so to speak, one that allows him to remain approachable, one of us, human.

Again, though, most of the hot air is coming from the right, some of it through the right's mouthpieces in the media, ever willing to play along. This includes both The New York Times, which focuses on the riskiness of it all, as if it may not be such a good idea, what with Democrats quaking in their boots, and the rightist New York Post, which spews nonsense like this: "Democrats will kneel before the 'Temple of Obama' tonight."

Yes, it's a rather bold move on Obama's part, but I suspect that a good deal of fear lies behind all the Republican sniping (much of it directed at the "enormous, Greek-columned stage," as the Post puts it), fear of Obama's huge following and appeal, fear of the symbolism of Obama at Mile High.

Obama is a new leader for a new time set to give an acceptance speech at an enormous venue to an enormous audience. If I were a Republican, I'd be scared, too.

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