Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Democratic Convention: Day Two Reactions

Live blogging on Day Two waiting for Hillary's speech: Here's what's striking me about the Democratic convention:

1. Most of the speakers are pretty lame. Is it that the Obamas suck up all the rhetorical flourish in the party? I don't know...but how can you get your message out if even loyal Democrats feel like fast-forwarding?

2. The Democrats never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Talking about the Supreme Court: no mention that McCain would appoint justices to overturn Roe v. Wade. Talking about the economy: no mention that McCain wants to extend Bush-era tax cuts (this point has to be made by Charles Schumer in interviews; it's watered down on the podium to a "$1000 middle-class tax cut"). Talking about military families: no mention that Obama wants to refocus efforts on fighting terror in Afghanistan while McCain will keep tropps in Iraq forever. These are easy softball lobs and the softball just falls flat. How can we hit it out of the park if no one is willing to swing?

3. The Democrats have no thematic discipline. After two full days and Mark Warner's keynote, I still don't know what the theme of the convention is. For a while, there was a good chant: "Four More Months." Why not make that the theme of every speech? Because every speaker gets to have their four minutes of personal blah blah blah. They could be hammering home "Four More Months" or some other concise theme that would give voters focus. The Republicans do this every four years. Why can't the Democrats?

4. Yes, a lot of talk about "working together." Reaching across the isle is fine for the candidate and his wife. But it's the job of the party regulars to define the party differences with the opponent. Now, I'm not a huge believer in red meat. But I don't particularly savor meat burned to a kumbaya crisp. Couldn't we have at least a little pink in our meat?

5. Oh - here comes Brian Schweitzer. Finally, someone who can get some life into the crowd (he's kind of a Democratic version of Bush in 2000 before he became tongue tied). Hey, he should have opened this convention with that on Day 1. That's what this dowdy crowd has needed.

But here's what else is striking:

Michelle Obama is pretty amazing. After a big speech and great interview with Judy Rudruff, it's clear she's not only as talented as her husband, she'd be a brilliant first lady. As the convention goes on, it's becoming clearer and clearer that, with the possible exception of Hillary, Democrats have certainly nominated the most talented political family in their party.

Could the strategy of this convention be to make the Obamas look stellar compared to all the rest of the speakers? I don't know...I can only hope that works....

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