The Weaker Party

Generally, I don't think much of the persistent liberal handwringing about how much tougher and meaner the Republicans are, how much better the GOP tends to be at political hardball, etc. etc. But watching this convention so far, I'm inclined to agree with Ezra Klein:

Say what you will about the 2004 Convention, it had a theme. Conversely, the first night of the 2008 Democratic Convention had Michelle Obama bring the warm and fuzzies, Ted Kennedy calling forth tears and hankies, and Jim Leach speaking quietly and pedantically without any serious promotion from the Obama campaign. The second night of the 2004 Convention saw Barack Obama tearing apart the arena. In 2008, we had Mark Warner with a well-crafted speech that fell flat because it was an attack structure that refused to name the politician it was attacking. You had Hillary Cinton giving a powerful address, but it was an address that was broadly aimed at problems in the Democratic Party, not the problems with the Republican Party.

The first two days of the convention were wasted, or seemed so from my vantage point. Tonight, Joe Biden will rip into McCain. And tomorrow, Obama will do whatever he does. Then on Friday, at noon, John McCain will announce his vice presidential nominee, strangling any convention bounce in the crib. Then the Republican Convention will begin, and you can be assured that they will remember Barack Obama's name. They will remember how to make fun of him, how to mock his celebrity and inexperience. And the media will not cover Ron Paul's protesters with the vigor or attention they gave to Hillary Clinton's diehards. Instead, they will cover four days of straight attacks on Barack Obama, culminating with a grave address about sacrifice and service from John McCain. And unless Obama's convention makes a sharp turn tonight and tomorrow, they will have done nothing to soften the impact of these attacks and themes or create a counternarrative for the media to cover.

The Democrats are holding their convention at a time when the GOP nominee is reasonably popular, his party is reasonably unpopular, and the current President, a Republican, is extremely unpopular. It's easy to say when you don't have to actually organize the damn thing, but I think that they could be doing a far better job than they are so far of using Denver as a four-day clinic on how John McCain will be just as bad as Bush, if not much, much worse. There's still time to make hay on this front, obviously, but so far I think the convention has been a big fat missed opportunity.