[I]t's apparent that Democratic conventioneers remain more enthusiastic about Barack Obama than Republican convention-goers ever got about Mitt Romney. Deval Patrick wins the night's up-and-comer laurels, but Michelle Obama out-shined the entire line-up my a few billion lumens. Ms Obama's speech was paint-by-numbers, but the painting happened to be the Mona Lisa. She was perfect. The speech was in many ways profoundly conservative; witness "Mom-in-Chief". Such reactionary tropes are liberals' best defence, and good defence is all Mr Obama really needs.
Even Jonah Goldberg gives props to Michelle:
I thought as a political speech it was excellent and did nearly everything she needed it to do. She was more comfortable and convincingly passionate than Ann Romney and made not only a defense of her husband the man (where Ann also excelled) but also of her husband’s policies (where Ann Romney was largely silent, if memory serves). Will it convince anyone already leaning against Obama to change their mind, I sincerely doubt it. Will it win back a few waverers? Quite possibly. Will it fire up the Democratic base? Absolutely.
Michael Barone's two cents:
She said more about the health care legislation than political consultants might advise. Some sentences struck a different note than the earlier proceedings. She said her and his family "didn’t begrudge anyone else’s success or care that others had much more than they did"–after other speakers attacked Romney for being born rich and having gottem [sic] richer himself.
Ezra Klein noticed that healthcare reform was front and center:
[D]uring the first night of the Democratic National Convention, the Democrats talked about Obamacare. A lot. That was, in itself, a surprise. Obamacare — or, as it’s officially called, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — doesn’t poll particularly well, and it’s believed to have been a key contributor to the Republican victory in 2010. But Democrats appear to think that the politics have changed. Indeed, if the first night of the Democratic Convention is to be remembered for anything aside from Michelle Obama’s speech, it will probably be remembered as the night that Democrats stood up and began fighting for their health-care law.
Josh Barro argues that Democrats are still running against Bush:
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro set the tone for the Democratic National Convention in his keynote address tonight. He wants America to put Democrats in power so they can create jobs for the middle class. Listening to his speech, and many that preceded it, you might not immediately realize that America has had a Democratic president for the last four years.
Larison feels that "the Democrats’ main speakers tonight did a much better job of promoting their candidate and attacking their opponent than the other party did a week ago":
I don’t think the Democrats were any better at speaking to people outside their party than the Republicans were. Nonetheless, the Democrats far outperformed their opponents in the presentation of their speakers and the delivery of their speeches. They made a reasonably coherent case for Obama’s re-election. That case doesn’t impress me, but it was never going to do that.
Ed Kilgore wonders if Democrats can keep it up:
I personally figured tomorrow night with Bill Clinton would provide the first big fireworks of this convention. Now the big question is whether Clinton’s speech and Obama’s will build on tonight’s momentum, and present the complex, coherent case they need to move the numbers a bit and set the stage for an epic GOTV effort.
Tomasky sensed a lot of energy in the room:
[A] much stronger first night than the Republicans’. Better orchestrated. Better speeches. And far more excitement in the hall for the candidate. What was that about the "enthusiasm gap" the Democrats are suffering from, which has been conventional wisdom for months, or actually a couple of years?
And Mark Kleiman quips:
I think the President is the second-best speaker in the household.
(Photo: A man waves a flag as First lady Michelle Obama speaks on stage during day one of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 4, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. By Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)