DNC, Night 1

By James Fallows

Q. Is Bill Clinton the last living Democrat with any sense of how to present the Democrats' case and vision in non-bloodless-policy-wonk, non-defensive-sounding, non-speech-on-Senate-floor terms?

A. Evidently not.
    For further research, consult the appearances tonight of: Lily Ledbetter, Deval Patrick, Julian Castro, and Michelle Obama. Among others.

Bonus Q. What was the most interesting network on which to watch the speeches and after-action commentary?

A: Fox, by a mile. Highlights: Karl Rove considered Julian Castro's speech "so-so," and he was more generous than Chris Wallace and Charles Krauthammer.

Details tomorrow, but if anyone in the "persuadable" bloc was watching, the Democrats made their case as well as anyone could have expected.

Also: unspoken subtext of several big-showcase RNC speeches was, "Hey, forget about this year, but think of me for 2016." That was the practically spoken-out-loud point of Chris Christie's "stand with me and I will stand with you -- and, oh yeah, vote for Romney" speech. In a subtler way it was Marco Rubio's point -- and, necessarily in most discreet form, of Paul Ryan's.

None of the Democrats tonight was saying, "Hey, forget about this year."

Also: the only thing more impressive than working "marathon" into a number of speeches was the absolutely straight face all speakers kept when using that word.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/09/dnc-night-1/261967/