There is no way to spin the Democratic National Convention as a success. The bad jobs report to which groggy delegates awoke this morning will likely dampen any bounce for President Barack Obama in the polls. A floor fight, a change of venue, and a poor final speech all tended to reinforce the gnawing feeling that the Democratic Party is poorly led, and that its best days--the Clinton years, for many attendees--may be far behind it.
Here are the five “bests” and “worsts” of the 2012 DNC:
1. Best speech: First Lady Michelle Obama surpassed expectations even among an audience of adoring, admiring fans. The entire premise of her speech--that she and her husband can relate to the economic struggles Americans are enduring--was a farce. But she looked poised, prepared--and even presidential. She transcended the resentful posture she first struck on the national stage, and looked the part of a future leader.
2. Best moment: For sheer drama, it had to be the floor fight over the amendment to include “God” in the party platform, along with language endorsing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This was the DNC’s “empty chair” moment--an unscripted, spontaneous event of the sort that is not supposed to happen at party conventions any more. (Sadly, for Democrats, this one really wasn’t supposed to happen, and did lasting damage.)
3. Best use of social media: The Obama campaign has come in for criticism during this election cycle for its single-minded obsession with fundraising. But given that focus, projecting a real-time map of the nation on which donations instantly popped up as they were made was a nice trick, integrating e-commerce technology and social networking.
4. Best neighbor: David Shuster of Current TV and his crew were planted right next to the Breitbart team in the media center. An analogy would be Yankees fans sharing box seats with Red Sox fans in the American League playoffs. Shuster tangled with Andrew Breitbart many times, and was recently sued by James O’Keefe. Nonetheless, the two organizations got along very well, amidst much good-natured ribbing about November.
5. Best host city feature: Charlotte matched Tampa for friendliness. This reporter was having coffee at a 24-hour diner at 2 o’clock in the morning one night when a complete stranger, who said he was a fan of Breitbart News, stepped up and paid my bill. Wow.
1. Worst speech: President Obama, obviously, because oratory is his best weapon, and he fell so terribly flat. But there were many close contenders: the awful exhortations of Sandra Fluke; the shouting of Cory Booker as he introduced the ill-fated platform; Jennifer Granholm's version of Howard Dean; and Elizabeth Warren, whose robotic denunciation of the rich had none of the improvised flair of her YouTube hit. Joe Biden, surprisingly, was great.
2. Worst spin: Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was so dishonest in her repeated attempts to deny that there had been any “discord” on the floor during the platform fight that even CNN mocked her viciously. “Evidently she was so upset that God and Jerusalem were left out of the platform that it curled her hair,” said one panelist. On the plus side, she did a great impression of Baghdad Bob.
3. Worst excuse: The weather, which was cited as the reason for moving Obama’s speech from the nearly-75,000-seat outdoor
Bank of America “Panthers” Stadium to the much smaller Time Warner Cable Arena. They didn’t have the numbers, and everyone knew it. (In the end, it rained briefly in the afternoon but skies cleared by the evening.)
4. Worst cameo: Former President Bill Clinton. Honestly, what was the upside here? If he did poorly--which I thought he did--his endorsement of Obama would look weak. If he did well--which almost everyone else thought he did--he risked overshadowing Obama. Democrats seem to have enjoyed the gesture as a moment of healing for the wounds of 2008. But that means little to voters in 2012. (Though much for Hillary in 2016).
5. Worst bias: The mainstream media, collectively, which evidently cannot resist the urge to “fact-check” Republican speeches, but who amplify nearly everything said by their favorite Democrats. To be fair, even the mainstream media have limits: they draw the line, evidently, at Wasserman Schultz. Hopefully she’ll get some much-needed rest.
ON BREITBART TV