Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Democrats Get Their Groove Back

I actually watched a lot of the Democratic Convention last night with the sound on all the time. (My usual tactic is to have the TV on Mute and stream music from CBC Radio 2 through my computer.) It was a good night for the Democrats, from the early-evening roll call, choreographed and calibrated to make the network evening newscasts and let Hillary Clinton be the one to make the motion to declare Barack Obama the candidate by acclamation.

And then there were the speeches. Former President Bill Clinton put an emphatic end to all the intrigue and back-stage gossip about his lack of enthusiasm for Barack Obama with a 1992-style speech that was impassioned and unambiguous. Then came Joe Biden, who was focused and — for him — short and obvious in his acceptance of the vice presidential nomination. And it didn’t hurt that Barack Obama made a cameo appearance after Biden finished.

Tonight is the big night for Sen. Obama at Invesco Field at Mile High, and regardless of the scenery, it has gotten a lot of pre-show buzz that will make this train awfully hard to stop, at least until the Republicans roll out their show in St. Paul. Walter Shapiro at

For all the overhyped overnight polling, for all the preening pronouncements of the professional prognosticators, for all the spinning and sowing by the Obama camp and the Republicans, it is difficult to know for certain how a convention has played with the voters until the themes and the message have had a few days to sink in. But for one night — with Biden’s speech, in particular — the Democrats have tried to borrow from the Rove playbook and transform McCain’s purported strength (his national security experience) into a fatal weakness. It’s a bold gamble to portray Barack Obama, just four years removed from the Illinois state Senate, as the mature counterpoint to McCain’s bellicose instincts. But, judging from initial impressions, it just might work.