I am not a big believer in conventions impacting elections but the Democrats had as good a first night as they could have hoped for. The opening of two weeks of 'Political Infomercials' started with something old, ended with something new, and hopefully will help kick start the Democrats to cover the electoral map in blue.
Ted Kennedy made a not so surprising appearance where he basically came from a hospital bed to ignite the crowd of true blue Democrats like only a person with the name Kennedy could. There was a wonderful video tribute to Kennedy by Ken Burns that led into Caroline Kennedy's introduction of her uncle.
It certainly wasn't the Kennedy of old and the impact of the brain tumor was evident, but certainly not as bad as I thought it would be. The best line of the speech to me was the fact he said he would be in the Senate next January after an Obama election. I sure hope the Liberal Lion is back and healthy for many more years.
The headliner of the night was the potential next first lady of the United States of America, Michele Obama. I think it was so refreshing to see a new, young face on the stage at the convention. While Barack has talked of hope and change, his recent speeches have lacked the fire and power he had earlier in the campaign. This changed last night when Michelle Obama took the stage. It was a wonderful and hopeful speech where I really felt I was looking at someone who would be an incredible 1st lady.
Michelle Obama has the intelligence and strength of Hillary Clinton without that steely edge which turned so many people off. She has the warmth and likability of Laura Bush without being so boring you felt like you would fall asleep during her speech.
The introduction by her brother, Craig Robinson was excellent. The stories of Michele and her brother growing up on the Southside of Chicago, making it to Princeton, and seeing them control the stage at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 is rather compelling.
Above all, the Opening Night in primetime was less about 'politicians' and more about people and think that will play well in the end. Yes Kennedy is as well known a pol as there is but the story was the impressive bother sister duo of Craig Robinson and Michelle Obama.
I have been slipping away from this campaign and the Obama campaign the past couple months. Yet that is a common thing over the summer for most people and the old belief is that the election doesn't really get started until Labor Day.
Well Obama has had a big week or so. He got great buzz leading up to his VP selection, made a great choice in Joe Biden, and then had his wife hit a home run to lead off the convention. A very high bar was set for Cindy McCain to follow.
The problem many believe for Barack is he has to cross his fingers now as the next two nights of the Convention go very heavy Clinton with Hillary tonight and Bill tomorrow. I believe though that in the end the Clinton's are going to deliver big for the Democrats and Obama. I view the Clinton's following the feel good and wonderful story of Michelle Obama as just what the Democrats need.
To ensure victory in this election, the Dems need to go on the attack and Hillary and Bill are better at this than anyone. It would have been bad form and poorly timed for Michelle Obama to do the attacking, but her appearance has to be in prime time so getting it out of the way early was good strategy.
Two strategists I respect a great deal, James Carville and Paul Begala both are begging for attacks at the convention and I agree to an extent. Yet I don't think it needed to be last night. Let people talk today about Michelle Obama and how she would make a great 1st lady. Then have Hillary, Bill, and Biden remind the American people what an abomination the past eight years have been and how McCain will be an extension of that. They need to fire people up, talk about gas prices, corruption, Republican fiscal irresponsibility, and say Bush-McCain-Cheney as often as possible.
Then Barack has to come in and close this Convention with a big time speech. It isn't a speech where he can afford misspeaks or things that will be mocked. It needs to be a speech that inspires and that is a taller order than people realize. This will be the biggest speech he gives in this election and the importance cannot be understated. He needs a big bounce off this convention and fouling off this speech will haunt him heading into McCains VP pick and the Convention.
The convention got off to a great start for the Dem's, but they are not in a position for a 4 day feel good fest. Hillary needs to unequivocally throw her support behind Obama, let women know the importance of losing, and start the attacks on McCain. Bill's speech will be the highlight and knowing him he will draw the distinction between Obama and McCain better than anyone, then Biden will show his toughness and experience. I have confidence in all of that.
The question will be, can Barack bring 'it' on Thursday?