Last night a bunch of big guns took the stage: President Clinton, John Kerry, and the VP Nominee Joe Biden. Also the convention finally got its legs and momentum. Tonight will be at the very least interesting.
1)You can (and should) watch Bill Clinton here. While he looked flummoxed and past his prime on occasion during the primaries, this was the Big Dawg in true form. It reminded me of the lovable Bubba side with the tongue (repeatedly and literally) in the cheek. And he unlike any politician I’ve ever seen could deal with vastly complex issues in a clear way to the average listener. Clinton has always been able to make people feel intelligent and part of a bigger solution–amazing gift. Obama doesn’t really have that particular skill.
As even Andrew Sullivan admits, Clinton looked great in the role of party patriarch. It’s the role he should have been playing since the primaries began. He should have stayed out of the race and let Hillary run on her own terms. B. Clinton would have refrained from saying things that hurt his image–which it was nice to see restored last night. As I’ve said before, I think it was Bill that disqualified Hillary from being VP. Had he gone the stay out of it/patriarch role instead of so clearly wanting to be back in the White House, I think she would have very likely got the nod. Hopefully his speech and Obama’s shout out to him in his surprise appearance will help heal some of the anger.
Biden is Biden. He stumbles over words,he isn’t the polished Bill Clinton. But he can hold your attention and make his point. He’s got gravitas and it’s clear he’s no bullshitter. As someone raised middle class Catholic Biden is very recognizable to me as Midwestern Catholic working class guy. When he talks about how he is only around still for his kids and grandkids, he’s being sincere. He’s an excellent match for Obama.
3)But the speech that was probably (and unbelievably) the best of night belonged to John Forbes Kerry. Watch this speech–which unfortunately I’m told was cut off by Cable Analysis—where was this guy in 2004? If this dude had shown up against Bush he would be president accepting his nomination for his second term.
Biden and Clinton both made clear how stark the difference between Obama and McCain is. Bill focused more on McCain being the last in a long and exhausted line of Republican orthodoxy (supply side economics, fiscal mismanagement, politicization of science, etc.) while Biden focused more on a point by point foreign policy event by event take down of how Mccain was wrong on X (e.g. Iraq), Obama was right on X. McCain wrong on Y (Afghanistan), Obama right on Y.
But Kerry gave voice to the anger in the party and among independents. He gave voice to McCain’s flip-floppery (and coming from Kerry that’s pretty harsh). He gave voice to how really God awful McCain’s campaign is. Check it: