Wednesday, August 27, 2008

CONVENTION, CONT. I wrote about Hillary Clinton's speech here. Bill Clinton, well, he did his thing, a little rougher of voice than in years past, and maybe with less native energy, but he's been at this a long time and he's good at it. I hear he would have preferred to talk about economic rather than foreign policy, and no wonder: his arguments in those matters wouldn't make as simple a sale as his pitch at the 2000 Convention, when he ran down the economic disasters Republicans said his Presidency would create, and then said with a little grin, "My friends, time has not been kind to their predictions." But tonight Clinton craftily focused on Obama's policies and defended those rather than his own, mainly comparing his own youth and inexperience at their time of nomination (of which their critics, in both instances, tried to make an issue) and his place "on the right side of history" with Obama's. Till this year, Bill Clinton has been very fortunate in his enemies, and his best gift to Obama was let him share them.

If John Kerry had been this energized in 2004, he might be President today. It's interesting that he mentioned Karl Rove, into whose box Kerry put himself when he stuck to a statesmanlike tone in that last election. "Talk about being for it before you were against it" was a very good line, though not as startling as hearing old, droney Kerry asks the crowd, "Are you kidding me, folks?"

Biden was surprisingly telegenic. The characteristic flashes of righteous anger were studiously tamped down, though at times, when he was denouncing some Republican injustice or other, and with his hair so carefully slicked back, he made me think of Jerry Brown's bullet-headed conviction in 1992. But he also spoke with quiet urgency about the problems faced by citizens, bringing a much-needed sense of dynamics to a heretofore declamatory event. And the "Not change, more of the same" and "McCain was wrong" chants he led had the advantage, for viewers like me anyway, of being old-fashioned political guff that is actually related to the issues, in contrast to the idiotic "flip-flop" chant of the last Republican Convention.

The surprise guest thing was a clever appetizer for the big speech. It was nice to see him effortlessly light up the hall for a few minutes before taking his act to the giant stage at INVESCO Field. It's like the Stones playing a club gig before one of their stadium shows.

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