Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Look, I've had moments of despair watching the undercard speakers at this convention, but come on, Ezra Klein -- you actually prefer the one we had four years ago? The one that produced no bounce? The one where the most memorable moment for a lot of voters was that dorky Kerry salute?

...What is this convention arguing? What is it arguing about Barack Obama? That he's an American with a recognizable history of growing up in a place and doing some stuff and loving his family? That he doesn't hate Hillary Clinton's supporters? What is it arguing about John McCain? ... If you're watching the primetime speeches, it's not saying anything at all about him. What will anyone remember from the first two days of this convention?

Ezra goes on to compare this to '04 -- "The second night of the 2004 Convention saw Barack Obama tearing apart the arena." But what did Obama actually argue? The word "Bush" didn't even appear in his 2004 speech. But he did tell us that people worship an awesome God in the blue states. Good speech. No red meat.

Ezra continues:

...the first night of the 2008 Democratic Convention had Michelle Obama bring the warm and fuzzies.... You had Hillary Cinton giving a powerful address [on the second night], but it was an address that was broadly aimed at problems in the Democratic Party, not the problems with the Republican Party.

But the problems in the Democratic Party are the only things standing between Obama and victory. Democrats have a 10-point advantage in party identification, according to the latest ABC/Washington Post poll. If Democrats vote Democrat, Obama wins. (And if Democrats don't look like squabbling toddlers and Michelle Obama looks like the engaging, likable person she clearly is, independents will vote for them too.)

Ezra does admit that

Tonight, Joe Biden will rip into McCain.

Er, yeah, I'll say. (Granted, I get to respond after seeing Biden's terrific, engagingly old-school, red-meat-filled speech.)

And tomorrow, Obama will do whatever he does. Then on Friday, at noon, John McCain will announce his vice presidential nominee, strangling any convention bounce in the crib.

Er, maybe not. I'm essentially with Oliver Willis: nearly every possible choice is either minor league (Cantor, Pawlenty, Palin) or objectionable to a big part of the GOP base (anyone pro-choice, Satanic Mormon Romney). That's the buzzkill?

Then the Republican Convention will begin, and you can be assured that they will remember Barack Obama's name. They will remember how to make fun of him, how to mock his celebrity and inexperience. And the media will not cover Ron Paul's protesters with the vigor or attention they gave to Hillary Clinton's diehards. Instead, they will cover four days of straight attacks on Barack Obama, culminating with a grave address about sacrifice and service from John McCain.

Yeah, all true. But ...

And unless Obama's convention makes a sharp turn tonight and tomorrow, they will have done nothing to soften the impact of these attacks and themes or create a counternarrative for the media to cover.

Sorry, I don't agree -- the Democrats don't have a deep speechifying bench, but they've put good people in prime time, and the buildup to hard-hitting attacks seems to be working now.

What's the narrative? The narrative is: Now you remember that Republicans can't govern their way out of a paper bag. Now you remember that a lot of Democrats are sharp and capable. You're more familiar with a lot of other Democrats than you are with Barack Obama -- but please note that those Democrats are with him and behind him.

So? You too?

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