11.23 pm. How do you follow that? With the Barack and Bill hug and wave. I believed Clinton's speech would be the make-or-break speech this week – and he made it. He improvised apparently – hence the Clintonian over-run on time. But by being a former president and exposing the shameless lies perpetrated by Romney, especially on welfare reform, he was able to say things no one else could. I don't buy the argument that Obama is more liberal than Clinton and never have. But for those who do, tonight was a brilliant reminder of the things that unite them. In other words:
I never liked Clinton but it is now pure churlishness to cavil at his remarkable skills. He is able to reach middle class voters with clear argument, grasp of detail and narration of history that very few others can. If Obama has said that his main failing in this campaign is that he hasn't told the story of the past few years well enough, then it is surely fitting that it was the husband of his former rival and former president Bill Clinton who finally told that story.
It's a story threatened at a critical juncture. I feel no reservations in seeing it through to the very end.
11.18 pm. Republicanism today is failed arithmetic. Clinton is really bringing this home – intellectually. It is not a series of platitudes; it is a series of arguments rebutting last week's entire convention arguments. It has far more policy substance than Romney's or Ryan's speeches. And it has the added benefit of being true.
11.15 pm. Clinton is now equating Obama's plan with Bowles-Simpson. And when you spell out the Romney plan as it exists, it does not add up. And it's perverse. Cutting revenues as a way to cut debt when revenues are at 50 year lows is not a policy. It's madness.
11.11 pm. Now the important passage on Romney's massive welfare lie. The requirement was for more work, not less. Bill Clinton is the perfect man to rebut this lie. I wonder if it will have some serious blowback for Romney. A former president has called him out on a clear lie.
11.10 pm. Now he's telling seniors that slashing Medicaid means slashing home-care for the elderly.
11.07 pm. "It takes some brass to attack a man for doing what you did." He's on fire. Now: welfare? Please: welfare.
11.04 pm. What's great about Clinton's speech: he has taken on the opposing argument directly. We are better off than four years ago. And the healthcare reform is already slowing healthcare costs. Now he's tackling the "robbing Medicare to pay for Obamacare" deception. He's a lawyer slowly moving the jury to a judgment.
10.57 pm. Now he's telling people exactly how the GOP tried to kill the recovery after 2010 by blocking a second stimulus and slashing budgets at the state level. Now touting the auto workers. And the new mileage standards. And a domestic energy boom. And better student loans. He's making it real. Have you lost count of the number of times he said, "Now, listen …" We are. He's telling a story that Obama has so far failed to tell effectively.
10.51 pm. Clinton's summary of Republican malfeasance these past four years is simply liberating. Liberating because it is true: their moral and intellectual and political degeneracy is our biggest challenge. And he is directly comparing his re-election to Obama's. And he's being as honest as he can: no one could have repaired the full damage of the 2008 crash in four years – but the green shoots are there.
10.49 pm. Genius: "We left him a total mess and he hasn't cleaned it up fast enough so we should get back into power".
10.45 pm. This is a brilliant and core point: the difference between Obama and the GOP is that Obama can compromise and the Republicans will not. If this election is about who can best compromise, it's over. Obama has tried to bring people together – including his former rivals. And the GOP has from the very beginning refused to do anything with this president but plan to defeat him. For Bill Clinton to use the example of Hillary to illustrate Obama's capacity for magnanimity and compromise is a very Bill Clinton coup de grace.
10.41 pm. Clinton is now telling Americans he has worked with Republicans in the past and liked them. He is telling the independents that the current Republicans are different – they are hateful, angry, and partisan all the way down. For a man impeached by Republicans to say they hate Obama even more than they hated him is quite something.
10.36 pm. He's on. I'm gonna sit back for a bit to absorb it better.
10.34 pm. And now the likable rogue. Man did he love that walk onto the stage. And he took his sweet time. Now: for the second most critical speech of the convention.
10.28 pm. She's winning me over. Now Matthew 25:40. But the passage is a command to each of us individually, not collectively. And that's the debate. Where she's strongest – and where this night has had a smidgen of a point – is on making bankers play by the same rules of the game as teachers, janitors or small business-owners. It's that equality of opportunity that our increasingly unbalanced economy is threatening.
10.27 pm. A point I made done better:
10.24 pm. That will be the pull quote of the night: "No, Mr Romney. Corporations are not people." Then she kinda got carried away. But it was juicy red meat – from someone who looks like a school librarian in a wind tunnel.
10.23 pm. I think I heard a mention of the debt. Wow.
10.18 pm. So far, I've been pleasantly surprised by Warren's autobiography – and she's gaining momentum with her accounts of middle class struggle: "the system is rigged." Now, a good bash at the bankers – and tax evaders. And the tone is right: "We celebrate success. We just don't want the game to be rigged."
10.14 pm. So far, an almost painfully bad night of speeches. The base-ralliers turned off the independents and the middle-American union members and businessmen were so boring I can't imagine they brkoe through to many. But they weren't aiming at me or the pundits, I guess.
10.10 pm. You know: this Costco man, Jim Sinegal, is actually quite effective in his corporate defense of "the long view" and old-fashioned capitalism. I bet he's effective in Ohio, Missouri and Iowa. But CSPAN cuts to an African-American woman with two pendulous ear-rings in what appears to be a coma. I keep slipping back into one myself.
10.07 pm. She improved. The arc from being "silenced" to getting the DNC prime time microphone was a little victimy but effective. She was a base-rallying speaker – followed now by a very straight, white dude who runs Costco. A good line: he's in favor of "companies that build and grow, not executives who reap and run."
10.03 pm. "An America where birth control is controlled by those who never use it." Fluke is in prime time scaring the hell out of progressive women. Whether she is persuading other women is another question. But that was a good line about Obama: "thinking about his own daughters rather than his own delegates and donors," when responding to the Fluke controversy.
I'd say Fluke's appearance is a ballsy move to mobilize women for Obama and against Romney.
9.59 pm. Sandra Fluke, Twitter was buzzing, was apparently skipped over in the program – but, no – here she is. And they've femmed her up a bit.
9.55 pm. Finally a decent line from congressman Chris van Hollen: "Yes, Mr Ryan, we are literally in your debt." It's good to expose Ryan's alleged fiscal conservatism for what it is: supply-side fantasy. Otherwise, another dismal speech from a bland white guy. Boy could you rip a giant hole in Ryan's logic and math – but this guy sure can't pull it off.
9.46 pm. Tedium still in place. The last dude said that he didn't think Romney was a bad man, just someone who made money without a moral compass! Cindy Hewitt does a little better – pointing out how risk-free a lot of Bain's projects were.
9.44 pm. Now: victims of Bain! Maybe the tedium will lift a little.
9.36 pm. The head of the UAW, Bob King, cites a Republican woman, Margaret Chase Smith, in defense of the auto bailout. The crowd is restless. But the argument is strong. The auto bailout really is a success story that has not been told effectively enough by the Obamaites. Now, a pivot to Bain and a fact-checking-proof phrase: "too often". As in: "too often Bain didn't build companies up but took them apart." Hard to debunk that vagueness. But then this speech from a union leader is not exactly appealing to my independent streak.
9.35 pm. A rather uninspired speech from an assembly-woman from GM.
9.30 pm. We're now watching a video on the collapse of the auto industry in 2008. The op-ed "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" by Mitt Romney is highlighted in day-glo yellow. The rest feels like that, er, Clint Eastwood Chrysler ad back in January. It ends with an auto-worker with a goatee telling us that he is better off now than he was four years' ago.
9.10 pm. A word on the issue of Jerusalem today. Goldblog:
The whole set-to today is about nothing, actually, except the exploitation of neurosis.
A sane view of this question is here. Money quote:
It has become politically suicidal to refrain from declaring loyalty to an undivided Jerusalem in which no one, save the ignorant and the true believers on the fringes, genuinely believe. Parties, party platforms, and even Presidential candidates pander to what they, correctly or incorrectly, perceive to be "the Jewish vote," advocating policies—like transferring the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—that no responsible president, regardless of party, will carry out. The discourse on Jerusalem within the political arena in the United States is a charade, and all but the deluded and the devout know it.
And yet when AIPAC says jump, an entire political party asks "how high?" Every now and again, you see the stranglehold and you realize just how contorted this debate is in Washington. By the way, "the exploitation of neurosis" is a terrific description of the leadership of the American Jewish Establishment these past three years and of Bibi Netanyahu's foreign policy.
9 pm. We just saw a stirring speech by one of the "nuns on the bus." Whie of course religious orders and people have every right to preach the Gospel as they see it. But I draw the line long before Party Conventions. It cheapens religion to associate it with such a partisan event.
(Photo: A choir performs on stage during day two of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 5, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.)