They switched on the lights in the bar at the Hotel Fort Des Moines at 2:00 a.m. Sunday, and a crowd of two dozen buoyant young field organizers for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) spilled out onto the sidewalk, some jostling past Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, Terry McAuliffe, who had paused for a moment just inside the hotel's glass doors.
The organizers were men and women in their 20s, and all dressed identically: jeans and red T-shirts with Obama's logo and his call to arms, "Fire it up."
When a man on the edge of the group yelled the slogan, they answered with the response they'd been chanting all night: "Ready to go."
"Fire it up!" the rumpled, older man yelled again.
"Ready to go!" the crowd shouted back again. "Fire it up!" he called. "Ready to go!"
"Let's kick her ass," the cheerleader finally called out, and the crowd roared.
The cheerleader — Joe Trippi, chief adviser to Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Obama's rival John Edwards, new-politics guru, and all-around mischief maker — glanced gleefully over at McAuliffe.
One question. Whose paranoia does stuff like this feed more: The conspiracists who think Trippi's an Obama mole? Or the Clintons?
Update: Well, it looks like it's turned Noam into a conspiracy theorist.