I was thinking a lot about John McCain today as I traveled to Denver for the Democratic convention. Not because I saw a lot of expensive houses on the way to the airport, any one of which could have been his. No, I thought of John McCain because I was crammed into the last row of the airplane like a POW in a hot box in Vietnam. I want to know what the presidential candidates are planning to do about this form of torture. My knees were pushed up into my chin and my neck was crushed against the slanted ceiling and window. These uncomfortable seats were clearly designed for the Chinese women's gymnastics team, not anyone of normal size and weight. Now, don't go calling the editor to complain about my insentitivity to the former POW. I am just kidding, people. I would never minimize McCain's service to this country. He is an American hero. But does he have to bring it up in every conversation? Nice weather we're having, eh, Senator McCain? McCain: There was a time in my life when I didn't experience any weather because I didn't have any windows in my Vietnamese prison cell!
Speaking of weather, I arrived here in Denver just in time for severe storms. Ominous dark thunderclouds rolled toward my airport shuttle as it navigated the flat plains east of the Rockies. The lightning shot out of the couds like Dick Cheney aiming at a lawyer. Maybe Thor is a Republican. According to the local forecast, a funnel cloud was spotted touching down south of Denver. Some say it was the remnants of tropical storm Fay. Some say it was just Hillary and her entourage.
But this week is not about Hillary. This is a mile-high lovefest for Barack Obama. If John Denver were still alive he might have been asked to sing at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I can hear his dulcit tones ringing out as Democrats and journalists alike take in the beauty that is Obama, "It's a Colorado Rocky Mountain high, I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky, friends around the candidate and everybody's high, Rocky Mountain high (high Colorado) Rocky Mountain high (high Colorado) ... " In the original, Denver was talking about the high one gets when surrounded by majestic mountains, breath-taking evergreens, bubbling streams ... who am I kidding, he was talking about firing up a fat boy. Kids, just say "no." The song could easily apply to the euphoria surrounding the nomination of Senator Obama. The delegates here in Denver are nuts for the guy and they're not afraid to sing about it.
The only redeeming part of my cramped flight was that I was seated next to Siddharth Mohandas, a research fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Government at Harvard University. Not too shabby, dude! I always wondered what a think tanker looked like. How does he know when he's off work? Does he have to stop thinking? I was impressed by his credentials and his unassuming demeanor. He was very kind to me and and didn't make fun of me for only looking at the pictures in my Rolling Stone. He pointed out that they have articles, too. Some about politics. How does someone get that smart? Siddharth, who as a college student wrote speeches for Kofi Annan, volunteers with Senator Obama's South Asia foreign policy advisory team. He joked that now that Biden was the VP pick, Obama didn't need his (Siddharth's) advice as much as before. But he was still very excited to be at the convention. If this is any indication, I should meet a lot of really cool smart people this week. Everyone from politicians to policy wonks to protesters.
My late arrival caused me to miss the first protest of the convention. That's OK. I am sure that isn't the last we'll see of these granola anarchists. To quote the Doritos commercial,"Crunch all you want, we'll make more."