Successful start for the Democrats in Charlotte

So how did the first day of the Democratic National Convention go?

As expected, liberal commentators were full of praise, but, Peggy Nonnan in her blog in conservative Wall Street Journal, also called it “a great success,” and concluded:

“I remember when Republicans did better conventions than Democrats—better staging, better films, better speeches, more fun. So far, looking at both last week and last night, that’s being turned on its ear. Does any of this matter? Will it affect the outcome? We’ll see. But if I’m a Democrat, I’m looking at last night and thinking, “That didn’t hurt. That didn’t hurt at all.”

Michelle Obama’ speech was the highlight of the first night, a speech widely praised, both on the left and on the right, a speech which Noonan called “remarkable and memorable.”

At both conventions now, the spouses of the two candidates, first Ann Romney and now Michelle Obama, have played major political roles. For a European observer, where wives to politicians and political candidates play a much more “behind-the-scenes” role, this takes a bit getting used to. But like the rest of us, I was fascinated and impressed by both, although I have no idea how politically important these speeches will be down the line, on Election Day.

The role of the candidates’ wives is serious business, as can be seen in Ann Davidson’s comments on The New Yorkers ‘Daily Comment’ under the headline, ”Love and Presidents: The difference between Michelle and Ann”.

“While Ann Romney, as I wrote last week, elevated modesty, telling the audience that her husband didn’t like to talk about his good deeds, Michelle emphasized humility, which, she suggested, brought with it an obligation to public life—that after passing through the “doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you.” The flip side of the American dream, which she said her husband had lived, is what Americans owe. Her husband, she said, “wants everyone in this country, everyone to have the same opportunity no matter who we are or where we are from or what we look like or who we love.”

Tonight, the main speakers will be former president Bill Clinton and Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, one of my favorite liberal voices, who is trying to unseat Republican Senator Scott Brown and get elected to the U.S. Senate.

More on this later. Meanwhile, here is Michelle Obama’s speech:


Too bad on such a fine professor…

The two best speeches so far on the Republican convention have been given by women, Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

It was hard not to like about Ann Romney and her speech about the love for the man she has been married to for over 40 years, without revealing anything really new about her husband.

It was Ann Romney’s day, that first convention day. She outshone New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Yes, she outshone her husband, who has never given a speech like that. It remains to see how Mitt Romney succeeds tonight in his big opportunity to explain to the American people why they should vote for him in November.

Condoleezza Rice’s speech was also very good. But it made me sad, that after many times having heard her lecture as professor of foreign policy during my years at Stanford University, my image of her, a prominent academic, has now changed into a Republican standard-bearer, a Republican spokeswoman. Yes, she was national security adviser and secretary of state, but, in my view, she never seemed to be hardline partisan, though she has never hid her Republican sympathies.

But now? To me, she finally made the move from academia to partisan politics, and although she denies it, it is quite possible that she has now also launched a political career with 2016 in view.

When I say that her speech was very good, that does not mean that I didn’t have big problems with her uncritical history of recent foreign policy, of her description of the years during George W. Bush, and of the current foreign policy situation and on U.S. standing in the world. Not a positive word about President Obama, not one.

The excellent foreign policy commentator in Slate Magazine, Fred Kaplan, was deeply upset in a piece today, “Condoleezza Rice Has a Lot of Nerve.”

One can only gasp at the magnitude of “chutzpah” in one woman. Condi Rice, a top adviser in the most disastrous, reputation-crippling foreign policy management in decades, has no business lecturing anybody on this score.

The New York Times’ former editor Bill Keller describes in “Condi’s World” the foreign policy dilemma in the Republican Party and the fact that Rice now, as with George W. Bush before that, “endorsed another would-be president unschooled in world affairs – conspicuously, embarrassingly so – and this one is Already seemingly in thrall to the hard-liners. “

Too bad on such a fine professor.

Here is her speech: