Live-Blogging Charlotte, Day One

Sep 4 2012 @ 9:07pm

151244284

11.10 pm. Bottom line: a great first night for the Dems. A truly memorable and centrist performance from Michelle Obama. And more respect and gratitude for the troops in one night in prime time than in three nights last week. The theme of opportunity came through – a far more appealing message than jibes at the wealthy.

11.07 pm. Douthat wins an Yglesias:

Screen shot 2012-09-04 at 11.19.53 PM

And he's right.

11.05 pm. Tweet of the night:

Screen shot 2012-09-04 at 11.17.47 PM

11 pm. Stunning, brilliant, moving, passionate and right. Flawless. That was a speech a presidential nominee would be proud to have given. The best speech of the conventions so far. There was an emotional arc and steel to this that was as suffused with patriotism as it was with love. Yes, I'm gushing. But gushing is what I feel. And this is live-blogging. So sue me. I've never heard a speech from a First Lady anywhere close to this.

The only flaw was having Castro and Patrick in the wrong places. Patrick was terrific, Castro merely fresh and good.

10.56 pm. As she describes the courage, wisdom, patience and grace of Barack Obama, I see them too. I make no apologies for admiring this president as much as anyone in public life, and seeing his sincerity and integrity and hearing this woman tell the truth about him after so many lies, it all comes as a huge and joyous relief. He is for our time what Reagan was for his. And the time is very different.

10.54 pm. So far, these Democrats seem far more enthusiastic than the Republicans last week.

10.52 pm. The appeal to women and students (and their parents) is more effective for being wrapped up in her personal story: a beautifully constructed speech so far, very tough while being pellucidly graceful. She has even bested Ann Romney's lovely speech last week. "He turned down high-paying jobs … success is not about how much money you make. It's about the difference you make in people's lives." That's the true middle class American creed.

10.50 pm. Her values are what my parents taught me. And she has this crowd rapt. "Being president doesn't change who you are. It reveals who you are." Having told people where she and her husband are from, she's now pivoting to Barack, his values, his support for the working class. She's nailing this.

10.48 pm. Michelle attacks class warfare – by saying she admires success but just wants to expand the opportunities for more people to get it. Then the real winning line: "the truth matters."

10.42 pm. Michelle has made more military and patriotic statements than your average Fox News host. And she's reminding people of how working class he used to be – from the rusted car to food stamps. Again: a theme of opportunity, and investing in its possibilities. The story of her father getting to work through the agonies of MS is deeply moving.

10.41 pm. The hubby approves the dress.

10.40 pm. After the GOP all but ignored the war in Afghanistan or the vets from Iraq, we now have a military mom introducing Michelle Obama. This seems so far much more carefully planned and orchestrated than last week. Maybe the canceled first day scrambled the schedule. But this seems so much more professional than the GOP's.

10.35 pm. Michelle Obama is getting her propaganda moment. But I can't help admiring their parenting. And their marriage. It's not often you have two nominees from both parties with such obviously great marriages.

10.31 pm. Castro didn't impress others as he did me. John Hodgman:

Screen shot 2012-09-04 at 10.41.22 PM

10.28 pm. Someone should tell Chris Christie that this is how you give a keynote.

10.28 pm. A country that is not a sprint or a marathon but a relay between generations: Burke rephrased by a Castro. And little Ms Castro is putting Honey-Boo-Boo a run for her money.

10.25 pm. A reader dissents on Strickland:

Watching with my dad; he's 57, white, working class, son of a lifelong Chrysler man, and one of the few remaining truly undecideds I know. He loved Strickland. Class warfare may be distasteful intellectually and historically, but are working class people supposed to adopt a Quaker mentality as class warfare is so thoroughly waged against them? Strickland's red meat seems to have worked for dad, commentariat nothwithstanding. Maybe it has something to do with him not "giv[ing] a fuck what a twitter is."

10.22 pm. Castro is getting better and better. "Freedom isn't free, but neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it:" this is another good line that helps pivot out of the exhausted left-right Manicheanism of last week. 

10.15 pm. "You can't be pro-business and not be pro-education." Good line. "We all believe in success. But the question is: How do we multiply that success?" Better line. "Romney is a good guy. He just doesn't know how good he has it."

10.11 pm. O'Malley improved as he went along. And he was able to continue the theme of moving forward. The most devastating moment of last week was Ryan's description of the Obama administration as stalled and adrift. This first night is designed to counter that. So far, I'd say it's effective. And now we have these two handsome twin Latino brothers called Castro, grandsons of a cleaning lady. This is like a GOP convention: two immigrant Castros hailing the unique opportunities of America. And this Catholic noticed the subtle mention of the sign of the cross.

10.06 pm. Patrick's speech is getting raves – even from JPod.  My fave:

Screen shot 2012-09-04 at 10.13.41 PM

10.05 pm. "Swiss bank accounts never built an American bridge." I'm not entirely sure of that – and again, I really hate this attempt to make Romney a man who "bets against America." He has every right to do with his money as he sees fit within the law. This stuff does not win over this Obamacon.

10 pm. O'Malley is ticking off the various issues to give the Obama second term a direction. I note that there is no serious argument about how to cut the debt tonight. Just classic Democratic defense of entitlements.

9.55 pm. Patrick is on fire. His line about Democrats' getting a backbone to stand up for what they believe was an obious play for 2016. But unlike Christie and Rubio, these speakers are all about Obama and his record. And they sure aren't playing defense. Patrick was supposed to be an attack-dog. So far so not. Strickland was that – and horrible at it. Patrick merely portrayed the Romney record in Massachusetts in the worst possible light. And I think most Americans understand that investing wisely in education and infrastraucture is not hostile to free enterprise but critically complementary to it.

9.51 pm. The "47th out of 50 states" job-creation number is pretty devastating. It cuts directly to Romney's core message. It disrobes his image of business acumen. And I like Patrick's affirmation of fiscal responsibility over Romney's – as well as his boasting about the right to marry the person you love. Yes, he's boasting that Massachusetts got there first. If you live long enough … and the GOP, in contrast, was so tone-deaf on this question.

9.50 pm. Now, a critical speech on Mitt Romney's record in Massachusetts. From Deval Patrick, who's off to a strong, crisp start.

9.40 pm. CNN's margin of error bounce was matched by Gallup's margin of error bounce. CNN put him up one point; Gallup showed him actually losing a point.

2-qjyb96ies_nzan0f-d-g

The electorate is polarized and the Dems may not get a bounce either. But my own view – and it gathers steam with time – is that Tampa was a terrible missed opportunity for Romney. It revealed just how empty his proposals are, and how backward his vision is. Nate Cohn Gallup notes that only two nominees have failed to get a bounce in modern times: McGovern and Kerry. Nate Cohn:

No modern candidate has won the presidency without seizing a lead following their own convention, and while that should not be interpreted as an ironclad rule, it’s still a sign that he could be in some trouble.

9.37 pm. The two relatives of Obama – his sister and brother-in-law – are boring on. I'm with Wilkinson on this so far:

Mr Emanuel's speech was both rote and unfocused. Ms Sibelius' was too detailed to follow. Mr Strickland's was intolerably hectoring.

9.33 pm. Strickland's ugly, xenophobic allegation of Romney's lack of patriotism is rightly being slammed across the board. Ponnuru:

Screen shot 2012-09-04 at 9.40.29 PM

He's right. Strickland was awful. But the GOP has indeed assaulted Obama on racist, xenophobic grounds for the past four years. They just held it back a tiny bit last week – because it was getting self-defeating.

9.30 pm. CNN's Erick Erickson's tweet for the night:

Screen shot 2012-09-04 at 9.37.29 PM

9.26 pm. Rahm was – for him – mild-mannered. But I've noticed one thing so far tonight – the Dems are not being nrvous about universal health insurance. They're finally – finally – touting it. They're also hyping the auto bailout – and Rahm ticked off the cities in Ohio who were lucky the government didn't take Romney's (and my) advice.

9.25 pm. As Rahm speaks, a word about the photo above. It's Tammy Duckworth, running for Congress against Joe Walsh. She lost both legs in Iraq.

9.11 pm. Romney got a bounce within the margin of error from Tampa, in the latest CNN poll. And he gained among independents:

Romney gained among independent voters, with a three point 48%-45% margin last week expanding to 52%-42% advantage now.

That's huge – but still didn't put him ahead of the president. And then there's this:

Only 36% of registered voters [said] that the convention made them more likely to vote for Romney – a historically low number. Forty-six percent said what they saw or heard from the convention made them less likely to vote for Romney, with 13% saying it made no difference to their vote.

Tampa moved more people away from Romney than toward him. But he's still neck and neck.

9.10 pm. The crowd seems much more energized than last week's. No other primary candidates, perhaps? More delegates and alternates? Or just that Obama is easier to love than Romney?

9.05 pm. Ted Strickland is shouting. And sounding nasty. Pure personal ad hominem populist wealth-bashing. Just before this, there was a beautiful testimony from a mother with a child with a serious birth defect who was rescued by the ACA. One speech made you think again about how important health insurance is for so many. The other speech sounded like class warfare. They put the class warfare in the prime time slot.

(Photo: A detail of the prothetic legs of Illinois nominee for Congress Tammy Duckworth as she speaks during day one of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 4, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. By Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.)