Hillary, Bill and Joe set the table for Barack who must deliver the speech of his life tomorrow night in mile high stadium. Still, the most telling moments came far away from the podium. The real story could be found in the body language of candidate spouses and family who are in on all the big decisions.
Consider the following:
Regarding the speakers themselves, their words were compelling but they could have spoken even more forcefully to close the deal for Barack. Hillary could have and should have reminded her supporters that McCain is a right to life candidate who will appoint right to life judges. Bill was vintage Bill and he did a great job reminding voters that Barack is ready, but Joe seemed constrained by the text (new writers?), as I am hearing Chuck Todd suggesting.
But, as Rachel Maddow adroitly pointed out, the democrats could and should have gone after Bush Administration abuses of power, and they didn’t. No mention of Cheney by name and little mention of Bush? I don;t get it. It is not a matter of playing nice. This is a matter of the constitution and rule of law.
The words last evening do not bode well for a truth and reconciliation commission to reveal Bush administration crimes against the state. No accountability. Again, it doesnt make sense. No Gitmo, no abu -grahb, no us attorney scandal, nothing but an oblique reference to the fear instilled by the image of VP Cheney on the phone; no reference to David Addington or John Yoo. This is the real red meat which could have and should have reminded voters of one of the most lawless regimes in history, and more of the same mccain.
So, to find some red meat, i turned to the sidelines. But then again, the real insights of the week go to the quick glances of Michelle Obama grimacing as Bill started to speak , blocking the camera view of her face with her hands during much of his speech, only to smile in relief and some delight at some of the president’s truly laudatory passages comparing barack to a Bill Clinton in 1992. The insight here is inside stuff, but revealing: no trust between Clintons and Obamas; the Obama campaign was pretty nervous about the speech. Next, the shot of Michelle wiping tears as Beau introduced his dad did more to humanize Michelle and Barack than her brilliant but somewhat contrived monday night speech. And then, Jill Biden’s pride of her hubby as Joe began to speak did more to connect Barack to the heartland than anything Biden subsequently said from the podium.
So, here is what I think was achieved last night: it was not so much that the democrats stole the republican thunder on national security and foreign policy, (a theme in Biden’s speech), but they stole a more subtle virtue from the repubs, the republican thunder on family values (compare Barack and Joe with McCain’s philandering), an issue that may well have won the election for bush-cheney in ’04.
and perhaps this is what they intended to do.