I spent about two hours on the floor of the Democratic National Convention this morning, and the most recognizably human behavior on display came when a six-year-old girl impulsively reached for a gavel and gave the podium a joyous whack. Everything else that took place in view of the press was stilted, weird and more or less unenlightening.
It was Sasha Obama who unofficially gaveled a mostly empty Democratic National Convention to order at around 10:25 this morning, Denver time. The younger Obama daughter stood in front of her mother, Michelle Obama, who was executing what convention pros call a "walk through" of the convention stage in advance of her prime-time speech Monday evening.
After emerging from the backstage area 15 minutes behind schedule, Michelle posed at the podium, wordlessly, with one hand on Sasha's shoulder, for the benefit of various convention staff who worked on lighting and camera placement. Then, Michelle took the gavel at the podium and raised it halfway into the air, posed again for a moment, and then set the gavel gently back down.
At which point Sasha stood up on her tippy-toes and grabbed the gavel herself. After raising it as high in the air as her arms would allow, Sasha brought the gavel down hard, and let out an accompanying squeal of delight.
For having had the honor of witnessing some spontaneous behavior, the deeply bored press corps let out a collective, grateful laugh.