The Opening Night Reviews Are In…


For a roundup of Day One coverage of last night's conventioneering in Denver, go here.

The reviews for the Ted Kennedy tribute/appearance are generally (and unconvincingly, to my mind) good. Michelle Obama gets raves too, overall. Even former Rep. Jim Leach's family were not just underwhelmed by him (he may still be talking, actually) but wondering what the hell he was doing there in prime time on opening night.

I think Dem political operative James Carville was right when he bemoaned the lack of a message, of a sense of urgency, to last night's proceedings. I'm not a Democrat (or a Republican), so I'm not the target audience, but last night's weak proceeedings got to the core of my continuing disappointment with the party: They always talk a good game about helping the poor, creating a class-mobile America, and all that.

And yet they don't talk about stuff that might actually achieve any of that: School choice at every level (not just college); ending labor regulations at the low-end of the market (including the minimum wage, which really socks young people and minorities by pricing them out of the labor market when they're just startin out); ending the war on drugs (which has turned poor urban neighborhoods into war zones and heavily policed areas); and more. Even the talk on Iraq was muted and full of hooey: There were more than a few of us who saw Iraq as a non sequitur from the War on Terror before it unfolded. Most Democrats did not, and they don't have a compelling reason to be against the war other than that it didn't go well. Obama is different than Joe Biden in that case (the latter a big hawk at the start) and it will be interesting to see if they lay out a foreign policy that isn't just about not intervening if you're not going to win in a rout.

I realize this is basically just a libertarian's lament: Why can't the Dems give me what I want (or the GOP, for that matter). But just who is going to decide this election anyway? Both candidates are polling under 50 percent and there's that 10 percent to 15 percent who can swing just about everything.

No doubt, this convention will have been a success when Obama pulls off his open-air sermon on the last night. It's likely to be inspired spectacle that may even be inspiring to those of us not already in the tank for him. But so far, thank god for cable TV and remote controls.