Thursday, August 28, 2008

Democratic Convention: Day Three Reactions

Ok, finally! Some meat served up with the vegetables and potatoes of the last couple days. It may not have been red meat, but it was fairly medium rare - about the rawest you'll see from Democrats, and which, as it happens, is pretty much the way I like it.

On Monday and Tuesday you had one memorable speech each; the rest was blather.

On Wednesday, you had three great speeches (Clinton, Kerry, and Biden) plus a number of pretty good supporting ones (Madeline Albright, Bo Biden, veteran Patrick Murphy and company). This is the convention I'd been hoping to see for the past three nights. Better late than never.

Let's review the great speeches:

Bill Clinton: Demonstrated, once again, that he's the best politician alive. Connected to the audience and spoke commandingly. Endorsed Obama's readiness to be commander in chief and put to bed that cannard. Made the point that most Presidents have been elected with no more experience - including himself. Reminded voters that Republicans have ruined the strong economy he left them. Couldn't have done a better job. Made clear that he's going to campaign for Obama, probably more than he was able to campaign for Kerry in 2004. Made clear why that will be an asset to the campaign.

John Kerry: Big surprise of the night. I was about to fast-forward past him but said, " this John Kerry laying into Rovian politics?" He was mesmerizing: strong, forceful, and on point. Everyone's reaction: why wasn't he like this in 2004? He'd learned something. Nice that he could share it. Nice way to remind people what a nasty campaign McCain is running. In a way, this speech redeams Days 1 and 2 by explaining a rationale: we just aren't as mean and desperate as the other team.

Joe Biden: Well, he did everything I was expecting of him. Had a few slips of the tongue, but they were almost endearing - you can tell this guy is so happy to be on the ticket that he's tongue tied. It's nice to see a politician who actually wants to be in the executive wing for a change. Plus, he made the critical points about McCain's foreign policy: it's reckless and ineffectual. Perhaps the only Democrat who could do that and seem at the same time authoritative and a man of the people. Best attack dog Obama could have chosen.

And yes, I did tear up at his personal story. The Obama team have been deft at being able to define Biden out of the gate. Too bad they weren't able to handle Obama's definition as well. But they've learned, and the Republicans will have a tough time tearing Biden down (we turned to Fox after his speech, and all the right-wing apparatchiks were apopeclitc with indignance - Biden actually *criticized* McCain...gasp! - and for once, they had no rebuttle other than stumbling around with a confusion of inneffectual talking points. If Biden puts even Fox anchors on the defensive, you know that both the Obama campaign and Biden's speech has delivered a knock out.)

All in all rating for Day 3: Solid A. (after a couple of weak B minuses for days 1 and 2.) If they had their choice of only one night for an A, aside from tomorrow, tonight was it: the foreign policy night was handled, if you ask me, just right - with due testimony, authority, and respect, but not cloyingly overdoing it as Kerry's convention did. And stacked with the best speeches of the convention. If the Democrats needed to do anything in their convention, other than have Obama move the country with a truly historic speech (which is what I expect from tomorrow), this was it: have a strong showing on foreign policy, tie McCain to Bush, and demostrate they are ready and able to make better decisions for the country than McCain/Rove.

In retrospect, the Hillary Clinton come-together on day two looks like it was necessary and healing in order to get to a great day 3 and 4. In that sense, it may have been worth it. Though it would have been nice to have gotten that out of the way on day 1.

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