John McCain and Sarah Palin were backstage, and Lehigh County GOP Chairman Bill Platt was warming up the crowd of 6,000 at a rally here for the Republican ticket.
"Think about how you'll feel on November 5 if you wake up in the morning and see the news, that Barack Obama -- that Barack Hussein Obama -- is the president-elect of the United States," Platt said. The audience at the Lehigh University arena booed at the thought of it.
The sage Platt had more information to disclose. "Barack Obama refused to wear an American flag on his lapel," he said of the man who, at the presidential debate the night before, was wearing a flag pin on his lapel.
The verbal barrage in the hall must have convinced McCain he was running with a rough crowd.
"Across this country, this is the agenda I have set before my fellow prisoners," he said when he took the stage.
Only the polka band, which entertained the crowd before the speeches, seemed unaffected by the pervasive anger in the arena. "Ha, ha, ha, come join my happy song," sang the man with the accordion. "Clap along!" The crowd clapped. "We're going to party tonight," he crooned, "with joy and laughter, that's what we're after."
It was a jarring juxtaposition: At one moment, those gathered were dancing, clapping and singing along to the polka; minutes later, they were enraged.
Possibly not the first time in human history that such a "jarring juxtaposition" occurred.