How Obama can have a successful convention

Some tips for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama as he prepares to accept his party's nomination for the presidency:

1. Stay humble. Barack Obama’s general election effort so far has been susceptible to hubris and vanity, overplaying its hand with grandiose moves such as making up its own presidential seal and a European tour that was more Rolling Stones than Ronald Reagan. Republican attacks on those points have clearly drawn blood, and Obama must avoid looking more like a celebrity than a commander-in-chief this week. For his nomination speech, Obama’s stage managers must find a way to make 75,000-seat Invesco Field — a venue built for NFL games and rock concerts — feel intimate and serious.

2. Keep the celebrities behind the velvet rope. Scores of pop-culture VIPs who fancy themselves political pundits will be descending on Denver this week. When you’ve got Obamanauts like Kanye West, Oprah Winfrey, Ben Affleck and Sean Penn roaming around town with thousands of journalists looking for the next Internet kerfuffle, gaffes are bound to happen. Obama must make sure that his celebrity supporters do their partying away from the media and avoid pronouncements on policy, race or Republicans.

3. Be prepared to play hardball with the Clintons. Hillary Clinton and her supporters have wrung unprecedented concessions from Obama in regard to the Democratic convention. Whatever the junior senator from New York or her supporters ask for now would be an abuse of Obama’s goodwill. To avoid appearing weak, he should hold the line no matter what the Clinton supporters threaten. If he caves, it will only embolden his detractors.

4. Embrace a doctrine of pre-emptive strikes (at least when it comes to protesters). Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper has made it clear that regardless of the city’s pure-granola reputation, he is taking a tough line with all of the protesters who will be packing the city this week. Determined to avoid the fate Chicago met in 1968 when police underprepared and overreacted to the Yippies, Hickenlooper is rolling out the riot squads, locking down the protest areas and even setting up a warehouse jail — aka “Mile High Gitmo.” Obama ought to encourage this approach in public and private, making sure to avoid the temptation many liberals will feel to appear sympathetic to the protesters whipping up mayhem outside. Images of a Democratic city overrun by hooligans will evoke bad memories and play on voters’ basic fears about Obama’s readiness to lead.

5. ?Pray for dry weather. A rainout of Obama’s acceptance speech Thursday would mean not only depressing, soggy visuals, but tens of thousands of supporters holding tickets with nowhere to go. That’s a logistical problem for which neither Denver nor the Democratic Party can prepare.

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