We got our first look at the Time Warner Arena yesterday, the location for the Democratic National Convention; the venue in which the grand act of political vaudeville will begin in three short days.
That stage, so saturated with hollow American symbolism, was but a prelude to the mania, of the bloviating partisanship of contemporary politics that will unfold in a few days.
While the figures of political worship had not yet arrived, their enforcers had, if in proportionally miniscule numbers. Their presence was hard not to see. Less apparent, but far more revealing, was the mindset they have already slipped into: the unquestioning inculcation of fear into every visitor who steps into the arena.
It is manifest in the dire warnings of soon-to-arrive Secret Service snipers looking down from rooftops; of bike squads of black-security; in the packs of police trying to look casual as they position themselves around the gathering of Muslims praying in the park across from my hotel.
This is just the beginning. The festive atmosphere so rigidly maintained on the stage and by the masses screeching Obama slogans is only part of the story. Underpinning thee Campaign campiness is an ambience of an entirely different nature.
As we dive into this week of frantic partisan play-acting, my focus is twofold: to absorb and transmit the scripts broadcast on stage, and to peer beneath the surface–to examine the sacrifices of spirit and city that go into this production of American pomp.
(The Atlantic wrote a great piece on RNC security in Tampa).