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If your idea of fun is to spend five days standing in line with people who want to talk about nothing but politics, Denver is the place. A disinterested observer contemplating the vast steel cage that lines the convention perimeter might think, "There's a good idea; shove them all in and throw away the key." It's a plan, but the problem is getting people in to start with. There are perimeter credentials and "pre-credentials" (they might be the same thing), plus, obviously, actual credentials, and far too few of the latter to go round. Or so it is rumoured.

Security for the event is certainly daunting. Supposedly 42, or is it 53 or 55, separate agencies are involved in the exercise, run from a "situation room" in a secret location. That is a characteristically American solution: the bigger the problem, the more agencies you apply to it. Even at altitude, these things breed. You need agencies to co-ordinate the agencies, and so on.

Picture the scene: 42 (or 53 or 55) agencies, licensed to inflict limitless inconvenience on anyone in their way, seamlessly pooling their resources and expertise, so that the whole thing runs like clockwork. What could go wrong?

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Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

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