Obama as Nero

As Barack Obama leaves Denver, I hope he remembers to fetch his fiddle: He'll need something to play while the Democratic Party and its high hopes crumble, and he waxes poetic about the adoration of the masses he felt while perched a mile high at Invesco Field.

So, yeah, the palatial columns that made up the gaudy "West Wing" stage at Obama's acceptance production reminded me of the cheesy set design in swords-and-sandals epics. But what really popped into my head was the image of Peter Ustinov as Nero in "Quo Vadis?" -- "Do I live for the people or do the people live for me? ... These people expect me to shine both day and night!" The left would have it that only the Republicans regard the masses as plebs, but Obama knows these masses as his loyal flock.

So loyal, in fact, that style was an easily accepted substitute for substance at this week's convention. On a stage that looked like an Oscar for Best Performance by a Long-Winded Politician (Biden!) was going to be handed out any minute, the loyal masses saw a well-scripted throwing in of the towel by Hillary Clinton, in shots that made you wish there was an open mic on her, Bill, or even an at-times steely-faced Michelle Obama. The Republican crossover speech from former Congressman Jim Leach was a snoozing counterpoint to Zell Miller at the 2004 Republican National Convention or even how we know Joe Lieberman will be received at next week's RNC.

And the policy points? Stunning! Bill Clinton intimated that Republicans hate autistic kids. John Kerry showed his hide is still plenty chapped over that Swift boat thing. Joe Biden struck the obligatory pro-war concession (Afghanistan) for the anti-war party. And Barack Obama drove home the point that he won't be upstaged by anyone, essentially snagging Biden's spotlight night Wednesday with a surprise appearance and impromptu speech at the Pepsi Center.

Was the weeklong production enough to net an Obama win in November?

One thing apparent in Denver was that the far left thinks the moderate-left platitudes put on for the media show aren't left enough. A protester on every corner reminded you about the evil Republicans, but also chided the Democrats as traitorous to their "anti-imperialist" causes. And as amusing as many of the protests were, there were some stomach-churning undertones: A woman promoting abortion and defending Iran at the same literature-laden booth. A bumpersticker for sale that proclaimed "Satan's a Republican." Chants that lumped the F-bomb and America in the same sentence. A silk-screen display showing the faces of Iran (translation: "don't attack, you evil U.S.!") yet didn't include a single imprisoned journalist, tortured democracy activist, or devious mullah in the happy, smiling bunch.