Thoughts on Day 1 of the Convention:

1) Y’know, a speech isn’t any less negative just because the convention organizers leak the information that they’re not allowing any negative speeches– or, for that matter, because the speaker tells us that it’s not negative.

2) … but man, can Bill Clinton make you believe that it does. His speech was hardly if at all less of an attack than Carter’s; it was more of an attack than Gore’s or Hillary’s. (See Ramesh Ponnuru, David Kusnet.) But it didn’t feel that way. He’s simply a brilliant, masterful speaker. I can’t offhand think of a particular speech he’s given that’s memorable and enduring, like Kennedy’s inaugural or Reagan at Westminster or the Berlin Wall. His speeches are in important ways banal, of the moment, and always nakedly partisan and political. But he’s so damn good at them, and he’s gotten better over the years. (He’s outgrown the singling out of token audience members, for example.) He’s the only currently active political speaker I’d rather watch give his speech than read the transcript later.

3) Still, I’m curious to see whether the mainstream press actually buys the claim that last night wasn’t loaded with Bush-bashing. Even Clinton’s wasn’t hidden; it was just coated in his honeyed voice. Carter’s would have been astonishingly nasty, if I still had the capacity to be astonished by Carter. (Much of the bashing was effective. Some of it was right. And bashing the incumbent is what a challenger’s party does. But I dislike the sanctimonious pretense that “As long as we don’t repeat Michael Moore’s theories, we’re running a positive, ‘choice of visions’ campaign.”)

4) It seems like the pure-play bloggers were too busy getting interviewed yesterday to do much actual blogging. The magazine group-blogs are, so far, the sites to be reading: The New Republic, The American Prospect, Reason. Slate’s Will Saletan has a good blog going. NRO’s Corner hasn’t set up a special blog for the contributos who are in Boston, the way the other three have, and so far it hasn’t shone– because it’s only posting bite-sized bits of snark, and leaving the two-paragraph-or-more contributions as separate NRO stories. So far I prefer the convention-only blogs that include a mix of long and short posts.

5) Go read all Andrew Sullivan’s post-midnight posts. On-site, Josh Marshall’s got some good stuff up.


Patrick Belton was saving up all his posts for one long mega-post in the morning.

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