While Barack Obama is lounging on the beaches in Hawaii he will likely be musing about the DNC Convention. He no doubt expects this to be a rock-concert like send off to the rest of the road tour, otherwise known as the campaign, which will land him in the White House. But while he is soaking up the rays he might mull over what could go wrong in Denver. It is what effective planners and candidates, at least those who realize the election is not yet won, do: contemplate everything that could go wrong.
For starters, The One’s acceptance rally with 75,000 bouncing, screaming, and fainting fans could easily look like a cross between a Grateful Dead concert and another era’s Teutonic rally. They have the chant (O-bam-a), they have the salute and they have the haircut. If the cult of The Chosen One has gotten out of hand, the Speech — or is it a “happening”? — could be downright creepy. Worse still, it might become fodder for a slew of ads — from John McCain who is only too happy to mock The One For Whom They Assemble. So perhaps less is more. (And raining on The One might be interpreted as a sign that the political fates were turning on him.)
As for the substance, the Speech can’t be yet another helping of the same frothy, over-the-top rhetorical junk food he has been serving up for eighteen months. The pundits could yawn, the McCain team could chuckle and the voters could well say “It’s that all he’s got?” More ocean adjustment and invocation of “the moment” would likely bring eye rolls and guffaws, and not much tingling even from the increasingly skeptical media cheerleaders. In short, he needs to say something new, non-cloying and substantive that will convince voters he’s more than the self-parody which he’s quickly becoming.
If that isn’t enough to kept Obama tossing and turning in his Hawaiian hotel, he might consider what the Republican could be up to that week. The newly feisty Congressional Republicans might keep up the energy show with some fun antics. How much energy are all those stadium lights burning? How much oil could have been drilled offshore while Obama was in Denver? And how many hours and minutes has it been since Obama and his Democratic friends fled town rather than vote on a comprehensive energy bill? You get the point. A dazzling display of clocks, meters and, of course, ego gauges may keep the Republicans in fighting form and garner more attention (at least on the days Obama isn’t speaking) than the Democrats.
And then there are the Clintons. Hillary and Bill, even on their best behavior, might wind up reminding all of their devoted followers of their common grievances and disappointments. The Clintons’ memories are long and their grudges run deep, and their followers know it. They bring with them a couple of potential complications.