Hopefully, you have not only been spending your evenings thinking about politics lately, but devoting much of your morning and afternoon reflecting on it as well. That would certainly be the case for me during a normal political convention season. This year, however, I am just finishing an eight-day stretch during which I’ve been working practically dawn to dusk on writing my newest book. The week is finished, but the book isn’t. I’m getting there, though. I hope to have a first draft done by the end of the year, knock on wood.
What all that means is that while I’ve been watching the DNC at night, I’ve truly been giving it very little thought. Yet I can’t bear to have a whole DNC go by without at least commenting on it. So here you have my thoughts, for what they’re worth, and I offer them in no particular order.
1. Clinton’s speech felt a bit like watching Jack Nicklaus in the 1986 Masters. Jack was 46 years old, nobody had ever before won a Major at that age, and Jack hadn’t won one in years. But he won it, and that even further cemented his title of greatest of all time.
Is Clinton the greatest President of all time? No. Is he the greatest American political orator? Again, no. But with that speech, it became clear that in his party, he has no equal as a statesman in half of a century. Some of us thought Obama could be on the same level, but Clinton just argued Obama’s case ten times better in one hour than President Obama has argued it since his inauguration. It definitely made me nostalgic, and I’m not even the world’s biggest Clinton fan.
2. And speaking of nostalgia, did you all catch John Kerry? He was awesome. Like everyone else who watched the speech, I sat on my couch dumbfounded, wondering where in God’s name that guy was eight years ago. Had the Kerry from Charlotte showed up, W would have been toast. He was coming up with one zinger after another, effectively poking fun at himself, sounding Presidential … you name it, it was working. In light of the election of 2004, it’s enough to make any Democrat cry.
3. Michelle Obama’s speech was terrific. I don’t mean it in the sense that it “did what she needed to do,” which you could say for Ann Romney’s talk. I mean that it was beautifully delivered and exquisitely well written. She should bite the bullet and run for office. Why not? Politics is clearly in her blood. And judging from the size of her daughters, she’ll be an empty nester pretty soon after her husband finally leaves office.
4. Yes, that’s right. I’m penciling Obama in for re-election. I realize that he still is given less than 60 percent chance of winning on Intrade. Clearly, a lot can still happen, and if Romney wins all the toss-up states, then he will prevail. But I refuse to be so cynical as to think that will happen. Romney still hasn’t told us anything about what he’ll do – other than pander to the troglodytes. While Obama’s speech wasn’t exactly a font of information either, it didn’t have to be. When you’re in a title fight and you’re the champ and the challenger doesn’t throw a punch, you don’t have to either.
5. This Convention had some stars that I didn’t know much about before. I had certainly seen Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick prior to this Convention, but this is the first time I had watched him give a lengthy speech. That guy can seriously bring it. He was fiery but without sounding out of control or shrill (unlike Jennifer Granholm, who just came across to me as goofy). I was also impressed with the keynote speaker, Julian Castro, Mayor of San Antonio. I have to admit that I was biased in favor of the guy, since he attended both my college and my law school, but I would think any Democrat would be impressed. My only concern is that the guy is from Texas, and I wonder if he is too liberal to win statewide office there. Probably not. The greatest political talents tend to win out no matter where they’re from.
6. I really liked Sandra Fluke. I didn’t think the contents of her speech were especially memorable but I remain impressed with her poise and delivery. Here’s a woman who is barely 30, has barely completed law school, and has come into national prominence by being treated as a prostitute by one well-known Republican figure after another. And it all seems to roll off her back. I’d like to see her run for office someday as well. We could use a statesperson who actually gives a damn about women’s rights. It’s clear she’s a real fighter in that domain.
7. If you had dry eyes after watching Gabrielle Giffords recite the Pledge of Allegiance, you are either a partisan Republican or you need therapy (or both!). I’d suggest taking off from work and watching West Side Story, Titanic, Hamlet, and maybe a couple of movies ending with the death of an animal. Then watch Giffords again. I’ll think you’ll be able to act like a human being.
8. Particularly after watching the DNC, I still have questions about what happened in Tampa. Here are a few: Why didn’t Mittens mention the Afghanistan war? Is he tone deaf, or is he just dumb? Why did the GOP talk as if there are three kinds of people in the world: entrepreneurs, family members of entrepreneurs, and people who want welfare? Why couldn’t Paul Ryan have just shoved away the deception and hypocrisy; didn’t he realize that he has a lot of talent as a speaker and didn’t need those sleazy gimmicks? Why do the Republicans think they can win without giving a clue as to their plans for governing? Do they really think they can win this election with 30-second advertisements alone?
9. Joe Scarborough had the best line of the pundits: “The President said nothing in his speech tonight. But he said it so much better than Mitt Romney when he said nothing in Tampa.” That pretty much says it all.
10. Best of luck, my fellow political junkies, in filling the void in your life before the debates start. I suggest watching the Nationals. They’re an amazing story. And that’s what we Washingtonians are thinking about these days even more than politics.