First, I spent all evening watching the proceedings on C-SPAN, having divorced myself from CNN finally and for good. I can't tell you what a difference it makes seeing the event unfold without idiotic Anderson Cooper yammering. Sorry, I used to like him, too—he's probably a cool guy. But I don't need his vapid commentary drowning out things like John Kerry's once-in-a-lifetime attack speech.
Gold-medal gymnast Shawn Johnson was a surprise for the "Pledge" (hopefully, McCain won't snag Michael Phelps) and Jennifer Hudson kicked things off memorably...I can forgive her in Sex And The City for this:
The speeches yesterday were okay until Bill Richardson spoke; he definitely showed, as several others have shown, that Barack had many excellent VP choices he had to pass over. Richardson had some terrific lines and said them like he meant them:
The best were the short speeches by non-politicians, chosen because their stories help to flesh out the Democratic vision. Two former Republicans had the best personal stories and best personalities. Watch both all the way through—they're great:
I liked Al Gore's speech, as always, but to be honest, I felt he was outshone by many others. I had expected him to be more of a pitbull. But it's okay, because I think he made an excellent point by reminding us of what all those douchebags said in 2000, how it would make no difference if George W. Bush or Al Gore were president because they were the same:
And I love that the Dems are confident enough to use that music with Gore and not fear any anti-hippie backlash!
Finally, Barack Obama's speech was, to me, the best political speech I've ever heard:
Criticisms of the "temple" melted away in the perfectly Washingtonian setting, worries about the weather or about unpredictable crowd reactions or sound gaffes all drifted away into the Denver night as he took the stage and delivered a clear-headed, passionate vision of the way the country has been for eight years, and where he believes it needs to go beginning in January of 2009. He had some wonderful rhetorical flourishes, but anyone carping about him being all talk looks like an idiot today—his speech promised specifics and took into account how he'll pay for them.
I loved that he directly confronted the "celebrity" meme that McCain has been hammering him with—I feel he has put that one to bed and McCain with it. I was surprised and touched that he gave LGBT issues a mention—he could easily have avoided that. When was the last time you heard a progressive politician arguing for progressive principles without getting all mealy-mouthed and pandering to the middle?
His speech contained some "post-partisan" touches, but never did I get the sense that he was moving to the center awkwardly, as all Democrats for the past several years have felt they had to do. It was more a case of showing how our vision will help all people, join us and let's leave the old ways behind.
The speech might be called "inspirational" by some, but to me, an inspirational speech is more feel-good and airy. This speech was, instead, stirring—especially his firm rejection of all the bullshit out there questioning his patriotism (McCain wisely denies questioning Obama's patriotism, saying he's just questioning his judgment; that's like those of Obama's detractors who object to him in racist terms, but who say it's not racism, it's just that he's too egotistical or that he's not ready. There are plenty of reasons to disagree with Obama—but have the courage to stand by the real reasons.)
When it was all over, I felt thoroughly satisfied that he had persuasively linked George W. Bush and John McCain, that he had dispelled the notion of John McCain the "maverick," that he'd bucked the celebrity tag and that he'd come across as confident yet humble...and very much in charge.
After spending all day yesterday threatening to hit us with his VP pick early to squelch Obama's big moment, McCain wimped out—knowing, as he does, that announcing Mitt Romney (wah-WAHHHHH) is just not going to cut through the excitement created by Obama's acceptance. I don't even think a surprise pick of Sarah Palin from Alaska (I have long argued McCain may pick a woman just to lure the Hill-Raisers—but Palin is 20 years younger, seems like 100 times less capable than Obama and could easily wind up president if McCain croaks) can compete.
See, it's not just that Obama is the first black man to accept a major party's nomination, it's that Obama himself is an exciting man with exciting ideas.