Denver, this week, feels a bit like Vegas. Okay, the lights aren't so bright. And I haven't run into any slot machines, yet. Or, for that matter, giant fountains spewing water into the dry desert air.
Still. You know how, along the Vegas strip, there's guys flipping those little cards at you, emblazoned with pics of naked women in compromising positions inviting you to call them? (And how the cards end up on the sidewalk, so you have no choice but to walk all over nude women. What symbolism!?) It's a bit like that in Denver this week, during the Convention, only politics are on sale, not sex. There are Obama buttons to be had, and Nobama buttons. Anti-abortion t-shirts, and the Evolve Tour's "condomvention." CNN is handing out free ice cream to delegates and credentialed press, and passersby gather to watch the likes of Daryl Hannah getting interviewed. It's a spectacle. From the platoons of cops on horses, to the man in drag, heels, and green wig, flirting with a troop of bike cops, to the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals in their pink pig costumes, calling for a tax on meat. The crass consumerism, meanwhile, permeates every detail; even the little plastic things that hold our press credentials are emblazoned with their sponsor: "VAIL RESORTS."
And yet. There really does seem to be something special going on here, and it's not just the dramatic way the evening light and towering thunderheads are reflected on the Pepsi Center's glass. Everywhere, from the Obamamaniacs, to the protesters dressed as Guantanamo prisoners, people are filled with passion for the machine that runs our nation: politics. They seem to believe -- if only for a few days in the waning days of summer in Denver -- that Democracy is alive and well.