Thursday, September 06, 2012

Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention


(For my comments about Tuesday, see here.)

There were some great moments today, along with a bit of overblown controversy over "God" and Jerusalem, and some great speeches. Let's focus briefly on the most prominent ones of the evening:

-- Sandra Fluke. She's hardly a political pro, but that made her speech all the more remarkable. She spoke with confidence and conviction as one of the most prominent targets of the Republican war on women. Ann Romney says women should "wake up." Really? It seems to me that women are already awake to the Taliban Republicans who seek to control them. Just look what happened to Fluke, whom Dear Leader Rush called a slut simply for wanting to be able to make her own choices. The convention is dominated by politicians, of course, but sometimes you need to hear from the non-politicians to get a sense of the human implications of the ugliness and brutality of Republican ideology. And Fluke did an impressive job, to say the least.

-- Elizabeth Warren may not be the most dynamic figure ever to grace the national stage, but she's a powerful voice for liberalism, particularly when it comes to financial regulation. Her speech doesn't stand out the way Julian Castro's did last night, but it was nonetheless effective at drawing the clear distinctions between the two parties and the two presidential candidates. And hopefully it will give her a boost back home in Massachusetts, where she's in a tough race with incumbent Scott Brown, who alternately presents himself as a moderate or a right-wing hardliner depending on the audience to which he's sucking up. In stark contast, Warren is a woman of genuine principle, and that came through in abundance tonight.

-- How awesome is Bill Clinton? Seriously, what an amazing speech. It was long, and it meandered at times, occasionally feeling like one of his own State of the Union addresses, occasionally going into a bit too much detail perhaps, but he was as commanding as ever -- folksy and authoritative, persuasive and inspiring, funny and enlightening. If Michelle Obama spoke about Barack the man, the personality and character, Bill Clinton spoke about Barack the leader, the policies and politics, and he was just as much a champion of the president. (He's just wrapping up as I write this.) He held the room and those present, and those watching on TV, in his hand, speaking with compassion and respect, understanding and conviction, drawing the contrasts just like other speakers have done but also compellingly making the case for coming together -- because, as he said, we're all in this together, this historical quest for a more perfect union. A formidable man. A brilliant speech. 

Wolf Blitzer says it just might have been the best speech he's ever heard Clinton give. That's high praise.

And there he is, President Obama coming out on stage to greet President Clinton and to give a wave to the crowd. You knew it was coming, but it was stirring nonetheless, a prelude to tomorrow, when he will accept the nomination. The energy in the arena is palpable. I can feel it here, a long way away. (If only I was there. Alas.)

Paul Begala on Clinton's speech: substantive and riveting. Yes, that's it. He knows his stuff, for sure, and can speak so intelligently on so much, but he's also so engaging, so compelling, and, yes, he does it without talking down to anyone, and quite the reverse by lifting everyone up along with him (which of course is so unlike the Republicans, including Romney and Ryan, who are arrogant and dismissive and utterly contemptuous of anyone other than themselves and those just like them).

For all the tension that may have been there during the '08 Democratic primaries, there is a close and it would seem completely genuine connection between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. That was on full display tonight, and it was just what was needed as we head into the final day of the convention, and then into the last two months of the campaign.

Another great day for the Democrats.


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