Sunday, August 31, 2008

Religion and politics

One of the big surprises of the convention for me was that I was
probably exposed to more religion in that week than I was in the
previous 10 years. Every convention session started with a prayer
and ended with a benediction. Same thing with every delegation
breakfast. So I attended three or four prayers a day for four days.
The party made a point of inviting a range of religious leaders to
deliver these prayers, so we heard from pastors, rabbis, imams, and a
Buddhist priestess. It was actually quite nice to hear so many
different types of prayers, with so many different areas of emphasis.

Probably due to familiarity, the prayers of the rabbis resonated the
most with me. The emphasis on social justice and righteousness,
combined with a self-effacing form of humor, just really appeals to me.

But yes, I was exposed to faith through my participation in a
Democratic convention. Whoda thunkit?

Thursday pics

Hanging with the delegation at Invesco

We delegates have the nicest accommodations...

Big Al!

Rep. Diana DeGette and former Denver Mayor Federico Peña

Gray Davis? Hanging with the Coloradans?

Delegates staying on message...

The Montana delegation enjoys the spoils of war

Friday, August 29, 2008


I know nothing about Gov. Palin, although I imagine I'll know plenty soon.
Still, is this a wise choice for the campaign running on experience?
McCain thinks Obama is risky, but he, a man in his 70s who has fought
multiple bouts with cancer, picks someone younger and less experienced than
Obama for his veep?

That sucks

Missed my connection at JFK. I'm now late for my morning paper presentation. Why did I fly a redeye?

"Obamas Antrittsrede kaum überbewerten"

I gave an interview with a French television reporter the other day. That interview was apparently translated into German by Zeit Online:
"Man kann die Bedeutung von Obamas Antrittsrede kaum überbewerten", folgert Professor Seth Masket, Politologe an der Universität von Denver.
According to Google's translator, this is roughly what I said, translated from English to French to German to English: "You can see the importance of Obamas inaugural hardly overestimate."

That sounds about right.


Charlie Rangel is on my flight.

Delegate reflections

Some things that surprised me:

-Hunger -- We were fed breakfast every day, but you had to really work the reception scene to get free lunches. I sometimes missed dinner since it's so hard to get on or off the convention floor after 6pm. I ate very few vegetables.

-Sobriety -- There were drinks to be had, but I was exhausted and dehydrated by the end of every day and had to be up for a 7AM delegate breakfast every morning. I really just wanted water. I'm old.

-It's good to be a gangsta -- Delegates are accorded a good deal of deference throughout the convention week, and we do lots of media interviews. Many are representing pretty sparsely populated areas and get a lot of press from their home town papers and tv stations. We get our own buses, we get lots of cool swag, members of Congress treat us as colleagues, etc. I'll miss that.

-Lots of foreign press -- I did interviews with French and Italian tv reporters as well as print journalists from Spain, China, and India. I'm guessing not too many American reporters are assigned to cover European party conventions.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Leaving Invesco

I won't bother to spin the speech just now (except to note that it was
brilliant). I'm on a bus waiting to leave the stadium. The bus departure
is complete chaos. Dozens of buses are sitting here with their engines
running, burning off untold quantities of $3.80/gallon gas.

Impressive crowd

Seriously, when was the last time 70000 people gathered to hear


Nice Obama/Lincoln comparison. Al's been reading his Gary Wills.'s on the teleprompter

Wicked cool.

Sky cam

There's a sky cam flying all over our heads. Very cool.

I keep hearing that the GOP is criticizing this as a rock concert. Damned
straight. What was the secret of Schwarzenegger's 2003 campaign? He made
politics fun. People who didn't closely follow politics wanted to get

I look around and I see people having fun. Sweating profusely, but having

I'm inside!

Holy crap this place is big. Still only about a third full. Security was
slow but no more stringent than at Pepsi.

CO has front row seats again. If I don't die of heatstroke, this will be


Just waiting in line...

Line of the day

"A working person voting for McCain is like a chicken voting for Col.
Sanders. He's gonna get plucked."
AFLCIO head this morning


A big shout out to all the political scientists who are convening today at the American Political Science Association conference in Boston. It is a shame that it overlaps with the Democratic convention (although that's actually the DNC's fault rather than APSA's), and even more of a shame that I have to catch a redeye tonight so I can present a paper tomorrow at 10:15AM. It's likely to be ugly. Luckily, my discussant is here with me in Denver, will be a sleep-deprived as I will be, and probably won't have time to read the paper.

Many alert readers wrote in to say that they saw me not once, but twice, during last night's speeches. I'm hoping the folks at the Klugie happy hour at APSA get to see me doing my Courtney Cox dance with the Boss tonight on live TV.

Wednesday highlights

Here I am fulfilling my duty as a delegate by casting a vote for Barack Obama.

A closeup. I was tired, but it looks like I'm about to vote the right way.

Big Bill speaks.

Sen. Ken Salazar and state party chair Pat Waak get ready to announce Colorado's vote totals. (55 Obama, 15 Clinton)

The big screen, as Hillary moves to suspend the roll call vote and nominate Obama by acclamation. Awesome moment.

Shutterbug Pat Leahy making the rounds.

Sen. Mark Udall at our delegation breakfast.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Was I dreaming?

Or did they play "Addicted to Love" right as Bill finished?

Big dog's up next

We have flags but are supposed to keep them down until Bill comes on.

The DC delegation isn't with the program.

Daschle's got cool frames

Looks sorta like Sting.


Pat Leahy is running around in front of me with a camera, taking pictures
of the photographers. Cute.

Post roll call

People are hugging and shaking hands. Looks like unity to me. Hope the
cameras catch that (and me dancing to "Love Train.")


CO went 55-15 for Obama.
Arkansas went all Obama.
CA and IL are passing, presumably so IL can put him over the top.

9 News

I'm on now.

Roll call

It's really tense here.

Release it

Hillary has officially released her delegates.

Hillary's delegates

This subject deserves a longer post than I can comfortably write on this
Blackberry. Anyway, there are still some serious divisions, although I
think HRC's speech mollified them somewhat.

The HRC folks, at least in Colorado, are much more organized and informed
than the Obama folks. The breakfast vote caught some of us by surprise,
and we figured the HRCers would hit the roof. But they knew it was coming
and at least some had been in on the negotiations. One said to me, "We
lost. There's nothing left to complain about." I don't know how universal
that feeling is among the HRCers.

I have no idea how the vote will be announced or recorded tonight, or
whether there will be objections to the format of the vote. I've heard
rumors that the NY delegation will move to nominate by acclamation, but
nothing confirmed.

It's weird being so close to the news without time to read a paper or watch

Scenes from Tuesday night

A concise protester outside the Convention Center.

Fellow delegate Jonathan Singer.

Me and my college buddy John Perez, who's becoming a member of the California Assembly next year.

This is what we see in front of us every night.

Elizabeth Kucinich, again. (I swear she's following me.)

Me, Gov. Bill Ritter, and fellow delegate Susie McMahon.
Me and Willie Brown!

I just voted

...In my hotel. They're doing the roll call vote as a paper ballot during
the delegation breakfast, rather than on the convention floor.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Highlights of Tues. Night

Hillary saying, essentially, that what she fights for is more important
than she is.

Schweitzer's energetic petrol-bashing.

Kucinich's awesome impression of a populist frog being electocuted.

Whoever said that Bush started his presidency on third base and then stole

Oh, and Jen Victor in Pittsburgh reports that she saw me on MSNBC right as Hillary's speech ended. I'm apparently right behind the dancing father-daughter delegate team of Bob and Sara Khim.

Correction: I was standing behind Bob Kihm and Wendy Wilson.

Twin cities

Heh. Great metaphor.

Hill's nailing it

But will her supporters support what she's telling them to do?

Here comes

I've been handed a Hillary sign.



Wake up

Kucinich is on fire.

I'm huge in Brazil






Does thois work?

Some pics from last night

The family teleconference


Elizabeth Kucinich

The crowd

Me picking a vice president

Healing the wound?

Just to bring in a quote that Eric had in the comments below:
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), in a panel discussion Monday sponsored by The Denver Post, Politico and Yahoo News, agreed that significant healing is necessary over the next three days.

“Yes, there’s some wounds,” he said. “Yes, there’s some scabs. But sometimes, underneath a scab, there’s a little bit of pus, but we have to put some disinfectant on it so we that can heal the wound and move forward. That’s what the convention is about.”

Cpr interview

If you live in Denver, you can see my Colorado Public Radio interview on
Channel 6 tonight at 5:30. I hope I don't look as sleep-deprived as I

Pub radio

Make that 10:09

Hear me roar

I'm going to be on Colorado Public Radio at 10:15 this morning.

Monday, August 25, 2008


There are many people in the Pepsi Center whose job it is to distribute new
signs to all the delegates before the next speaker starts. I'm holding a
Michelle sign, but I'm not allowed to wave it yet.

Michelle video

Anyone notice the use of the "West Wing" font? As I've said, Matt Santos
was a year-long ad for Obama. Or vice versa.

Delegates do something!

I just signed a petition to place Obama's and Biden's names in for


I was standing next to Frank Luntz during Teddy's speech. He wasn't as into
it as I was.


I'm getting verklempt.


I've got to admit, this band isn't bad.


Why is Rep. Joe Baca endorsing Barackorama?

Colorado delegation breakfast

Okay, the breakfast didn't taste all that good. But I did get to meet Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado's 7th CD:
I also got to meet former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, who was just in prison until a few months ago. He's a real life political prisoner.
And here I am being interviewed by 9News (click on "delegates gather.") Watch for the money shot of me chewing.

Horses with riot gear

Sunday, August 24, 2008


RFK Jr. just gave a serious barn burner of a speech at Red Rocks.

Mental note

Don't try to conduct surveys outdoors at night without a flashlight.

All the best freaks are here

Actually, it looks like there are more police than protesters. The police
horses are wearing riot gear. Not kidding.

Governor's reception

Just came back from a lovely champagne brunch at the Governor's mansion (which is pretty nice, I have to say). I got to meet my congresswoman, Diana DeGette:Also got to meet Jared Polis, the new Democratic nominee for the 2nd congressional district. I told him I was pulling for him but didn't think he'd get the nomination. (Hey, he was an outsider. Usually a safe bet. What do I know?)I talked to some fellow delegates, as well. Interesting stuff about the Clinton/Obama vote on Wednesday. More later...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Gavel to gavel coverage

See it all here (some media downloads required).

UPS Mints? For me???

I'm not moving into the convention hotel until tomorrow night, but I'm excited to see my delegate goody bag when I arrive. DemConWatch reports on the contents of the DNC goody bag:
Pedometer. From Astra Zeneca
Sanitizing gel with clip. Sponsored by Hogan & Hartson lawfirm
Joint Juice. Sponsored by Joint Juice.
Mints by UPS.
Mints by ProLogis real estate.
Chapstick by FedEx.
AT&T lapel pin and free ring tone card
Bunch of pens, one of which is made from recycled materials
A notebook.
I think I'll also be getting a Colorado Democrats goody bag. I'm guessing it contains buffalo jerky. Or maybe elk jerky! We'll see.

Where's my text message?

It's Biden, everyone knows it's Biden, but Obama hasn't texted me yet. What's the point of all this technology? I might as well read a newspaper. Or talk to people.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Who's interviewing me now?

Naomi Binkley, Fireside Productions:

A runaway American dream...

Oh, please let this be true.
I received an email today from someone very, very close to me who works in an important position for a company that is working directly with Invesco Field at Mile High. They had a meeting at the convention center with a couple of (company name) political consultants, one of whom is the daughter of a very well known concert promoter here in Denver. She told my brother that her father has signed Bruce Springsteen to play at the Obama acceptance speech!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Platform's up

Um, am I supposed to read this thing?

Hillary encourages her delegates to go with Obama

According to Jeff Strater, a Clinton delegate from Texas:
On a conference call last night for her 1800 national delegates, Hillary explained that she is 100% committed to taking back the White House and working hard to elect Sen. Obama as the Democratic Party nominee.

Hillary encouraged her delegates to be focused on the goal to defeat McCain and the republicans this fall. Sounding very upbeat and excited, Hillary spoke of campaigning for Sen. Obama in New Mexico and remarked that she has explained to voters that she has so much more in common with Sen. Obama than McCain.

Hillary commented that she was pleased that her delegates reflect the strength and diversity of the party and thanked everyone for their hard work. She looks forward to seeing everyone in Denver and mentioned a convention reception and other operational items that her remaining staff are working on. The mechanics of when and how delegates would be released was not discussed.
A conference call with 1,800 people? Wow.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The forecast

Current weather forecast for Thursday, August 28th:
Partly sunny, daytime high of 84, overnight low of 62.
Nine day temperature forecasts probably have standard errors around 50, but still, I like the expected value.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunday night at Red Rocks

Convention delegates are invited to Red Rocks on Sunday night to hear Earth Wind & Fire, Sugarland, Sheryl Crow, and Dave Matthews. Nice.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Literally hundreds

Do you want an idea of how many caucuses, receptions, and other events are being held in conjunction with the Democratic convention? Check it out here. And the list isn't even finished yet.

I'm really hoping the DNC equips each delegate with a PDA, a headset, and a personal assistant, or this thing is going to be unnavigable.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Will the Clinton roll call hurt Obama?

(Cross-posted at Enik Rising)

The Denver Post's analysis of yesterday's announcement that Hillary Clinton's name will be submitted for nomination at the convention suggested that this decision will be good for intraparty politics, but could hurt Obama against McCain. According to the article,

In three similar scenarios at national conventions in the past 35 years, when there have been large splits within one party during the convention itself, the candidate ultimately didn't win the general election.

In 1976, Ronald Reagan challenged Gerald Ford's nomination at the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Mo. Jimmy Carter won that year.

In 1980, Sen. Edward Kennedy challenged Carter's nomination — and Reagan won. And in 1984, 1,200 delegates voted for Sen. Gary Hart on the convention floor rather than Walter Mondale. Reagan won again.

This is true, but misleading. In the cases of 1976 and 1980, it confuses the cause and the effect. Gerald Ford ('76) and Jimmy Carter ('80) were challenged from within their party precisely because they were weak incumbents who looked likely to lose in the fall. Conversely, Reagan was highly popular in 1984 and had a strong economy backing him up. Does anyone seriously think that Mondale would have beat Reagan if Gary Hart hadn't challenged him for the nomination?

It is certainly possible that appearances at the convention could hurt Obama. If a bunch of Clinton delegates are photographed scowling after the vote and sitting on their hands during Obama's speech, that would hurt. But this event could also work to the Democrats' advantage if it shows delegates literally in the act of overcoming their differences and rallying behind the nominee.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

There will be a roll call!

From TPM Election Central:
The Hillary and Obama campaigns have finally reached an official deal on how to handle her role at the convention -- her name will be placed in nomination, as a way to assuage her embittered supporters and minimize the possibility of strife at the Denver gathering, according to two sources familiar with the deal.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Clinton and the roll call

Matt at DemConWatch asks whether Hillary Clinton even wants to have her name on a convention roll call vote. The risk, as Marc Ambinder points out, is that she would almost certainly receive fewer votes than she has pledged delegates, which would indicate that her support has waned. On the other hand, a lot of her supporters clearly want this vote.

Matt seems to think a vote could work out for everyone, painting the following scenario:
Time it to end at 10:05 - just after the networks come on the air. Obama goes over the top - everyone celebrates - great visuals. Then, the NY delegation asks to be recognized. A certain former president, and superdelegate, asks that the nomination of Obama be made unanimous. The motion passes, and a great celebration of party unity follows. Five minutes of that, and a voice comes on the loudspeaker, saying, ladies and gentlemen, the next vice president of the United States, and the VP nominee comes to the podium.
I tend to agree. Something like that could work nicely.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Intraparty tensions

A Colorado Clinton delegate, Sacha Millstone of Boulder, has been called onto the carpet for saying disparaging things about Barack Obama. It doesn't sound like the state party is going to strip her of her delegate status, but I'm guessing they were considering it. This comes on the heels of a similar incident in Wisconsin, where a Clinton delegate actually was removed from that state's delegation for threatening to vote for McCain. One can see further evidence of such tensions in this interesting Denver Post story on Colorado's Clinton delegates.

The big cause among Clinton supporters right now seems to be that her name is formally submitted for nomination at the convention and that a full vote is held. See this press release by Clinton Democrats for more. Some of the comments there are very telling. For example:
If Hillary’s name is not on the ballot in Denver, I will make sure that I am no longer a registered Democrat and will support the Republican nominee.
I am really curious how or whether this gets resolved in the next two weeks.

Renting a Blackberry

Well, I was looking for a Blackberry, and I found one. I didn't know you could rent these things. $15 a day with unlimited e-mail. Not bad.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Inaugural post

I have created this blog because I think it will be the best way to chronicle and preserve my experiences at the Democratic National Convention. I was lucky enough to have been elected by my fellow Democrats in Colorado's 1st congressional district as an Obama-pledged delegate to the convention. As it happens, party nominations are one of my main areas of study as a political scientist, so this is a pretty rare opportunity for me.

I fully recognize that there are challenges to studying a phenomenon while being a part of it. Larry Bartels is probably at the extreme end of this measure of concern -- word has it that he refuses to vote because he thinks it's improper for him to influence, even in a small way, his field of study. Other political scientists aren't quite so doctrinaire -- Daron Shaw and John Petrocik are quite up front about their occasional work for political candidates but also manage to do top notch scholarly analysis. The risk, of course, is that you end up seriously affecting what you're allegedly studying, as Jane Goodall may have done when she fed Gombe chimpanzees and possibly started a war between them. Or, one could become like "Buckaroo Banzai's" Emilio Lizardo (whose face graces the top of this blog as a reminder to me), who used himself as a subject in an experiment and eventually became a bipolar genocidal maniac.

I have no doubt that it's harder to do unbiased scholarship if you have a dog in the race. You have to constantly check yourself for bias. On the other hand, Jonas Salk probably wanted his vaccine to work before he discovered that it did. Many American scientists doing work for the government during WWII did excellent work but were also motivated by a desire to see their country win and to keep their findings/atomic power/the Ark of the Covenant from falling into the hands of the Nazis.

Great, now I've compared myself to Jonas Salk, Robert Oppenheimer, and Indiana Jones. I'm just going to a freakin' convention.

Anyway, my intent in maintaining this blog is to provide all of you with lots of accounts, pictures, and analysis that you might not get from just watching the convention on TV. I still need a Blackberry or an iPhone to help me do that, but I'm working on that. Meanwhile, feel free to submit comments or suggestions for anything I can do to improve this blog.