The Democratic convention was treated to two very fine performances last night.
Both President Clinton and Senator Biden gave excellent speeches in which they vouched for Barack Obama's character and went straight for McCain's jugular.
The night had already started emotionally. The roll call of delegate votes is always strange to watch at the best of times. Each state delegation calls out who they are going to support as well as giving their own state a massive plug. But when it got to New York, Hillary Clinton surprised us with a cleverly orchestrated appearance in which she moved a motion of acclamation. In other words, she stopped the roll call and called for the Convention to endorse Obama. I am a sucker for moments like this and I did have tears in my eyes when it happened. Her actions put Obama over the edge and gave him the nomination.
When Bill appeared, the Convention went wild. I loved it when they played "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow." Ah, the memories! He gave a great speech in which he explicitly endorsed Obama and showed the Democrats just how they could attack McCain. He did a lot to rehabilitate himself in my eyes. He had a couple of great lines too: "People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power." Slam Dunk and thank you.
With the crowd more than nicely warmed up, Biden also delivered the goods. In particular, he went after McCain's biggest supposed strength: his foreign policy experience. For me the best single line in his speech was: "The times require more than just a good soldier, they require a wise leader." This was exactly the right thing to say. Biden has the credibility to question McCain's stance on foreign policy and national security. His mantra seemed to be, "John McCain wrong, Barack Obama right." Experience is fine, but judgement is something else. I should never have questioned Obama's decision to choose Biden. After last night's speech, I understand why he was chosen as VP candidate. Biden came across as wise and experienced. A man with a good back story who would take the fight to the Republicans and appeal to those white working class communities in the rust belt who Obama is struggling to touch.
In the end both speeches tackled the thorny issue of judgement. Clinton and Biden argued forcefully that compared to McCain, Obama's judgement was spot on. He was ready to lead now. Exactly the sort of thing we needed to hear.
Tonight, Obama gives the most important speech of his life.
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