I’m working on editing a few new videos from the DNC. Everything should be up by Sunday, but hopefully before. And now that the convention is over I’ll have more time to write about it, so check back in by the end of the day.
Grammy-winning soul singer John Legend was an omnipresent figure during last week’s Democratic National Convention. After performing his new anthem, “Are You Out There,”on the convention’s first night, Legend fielded interviews from CNN, MSNBC and a gaggle of reporters from around the country. He was on stage again at Thursday’s rally at Invesco Field, singing the internet hit “Yes We Can” with Will.I.Am before an audience of 70,000. For Legend, who had emerged from humble roots in Springfield, Ohio to become the Obama campaign’s most visible musical surrogate, the moment represented both a political and personal apotheosis.
I caught up with Legend at Harold Ford’s Democratic Leadership Conference party on August 26. It was a private affair for big Democratic donors, party activists and anyone connected enough to get their name on the VIP list. Though the club management had forbidden filming, I slipped into Legend’s dressing room after his performance for an impromptu on-camera chat about his involvement on the Obama campaign, his anti-poverty crusading, and his development into an activist entertainer.
(I’ve been having some Youtube trouble; if the embed doesn’t work, watch here.)
Roland Martin wrote me an angry email response hours before I posted the video below. Roland’s email is below the fold, but watch my exchange with him and judge for yourselves. I will write more later on my impressions of our discussion, and post Roland’s own writings that prompted my questions. And I will post more in the coming weeks of my interview with the always illuminating Martin. But for now, (and if you can’t view the embed) watch the video here:
This afternoon I am planning on uploading some video highlights from the past two days, so check back here early tomorrow. Among the video interviews I plan to post are CNN’s Roland Martin weirdly explaining how his wife helped gay men come to Jesus by convincing them to abstain from sex, Bob Schieffer’s remarks about sexism in the media and Katie Couric’s non-responses to me, Joe Trippi on the John Edwards affair, and John Legend talking politics in his dressing room after performing at Harold Ford’s party last night. The Legend interview should be up on Friday on the Huffington Post as well.
I only have a minute to write on the convention before I get in the editing lab, but here are some thoughts:
I arrived in Denver on a plane with Cindy Lauper. Someone told me she was on the plane and asked where she was. I said I haven’t seen her since 1984, so how would I know what she looks like now? Turned out she hasn’t changed much since her glory days. I rushed from the airport into the crush of people crowding into a gated area where a phalanx of police officers and secret service personnel checked bags and credentials. By the time I passed through security and hit the convention floor, Michelle Obama was on stage.
MO’s speech looked much better when I watched it later on TV. In person, she appeared through two huge screens installed high above the crowd. Her intense gaze through these Jumbotrons was slightly Orwellian. MO’s speech contained very few applause lines, so in person the crowd seemed under-enthused because it was. On TV, however, MO looked and sounded commanding yet graceful, and the ripples of applause that occasionally punctuated her speech seemed profound. Everything that occurs on stage at the Pepsi Center this week has been calibrated exclusively for TV audiences. The convention crowd is just a prop.
The thrust of MO’s speech was predictable. For months she has been dogged by GOP attacks centering on her infamous “for the first time I’m proud of my country” remarks. For weeks during the primaries, rumors circulated that she may have used the word “whitey” during an angry tirade she delivered years ago, and that conservative operatives have some videotape of it. Thus MO’s speech was calculated to highlight her patriotism and the values she supposedly shares with “average” (read: white) Americans. The Obama campaign also REPLACEed a fairly clever applause line praising Hillary Clinton in hopes of softening memories of ugly moments like this.