car·riage re·turn

n. the lever or mechanism on a typewriter that would cause the cylinder on which the paper was held (the carriage) to return to the left margin of the page

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Asleep in perfect blue buildings

I don’t know if the Democrats are planning to close Barack Obama’s speech tomorrow night with fireworks over Mile High Stadium INVESCO Field,but if they are,they might want to secretly test a few of them in Wyoming beforehand. From the moment Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi opened the 2008 DNC with a thudding,dead-on-arrival speech,this convention has been a dud.

Prime-time viewers who have turned in only to watch Michelle Obama’s speech on Monday and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s speech last night might not be fully aware of how bad the vast majority of the speaking has been. Out of curiosity,I’ve been watching the convention every day. Here’s what I have to report:So far,it’s been a near-total snoozefest interrupted by Michelle Obama and Senator Clinton during the prime time hours.

Nancy Pelosi’s speech opening of the convention on Monday was an absolute bomb. Quite honestly,she made John McCain look like a great orator. As we chatted online during the speech,Tim gave a pretty straightforward assessment -”she probably had an intern write it in the cab over from the hotel.”That essentially summarizes both the quality of the content and the delivery –uncompelling,stilted,milquetoast,and bush-league. Quite frankly,it was the speech of a political dilettante (which neatly dovetails with her record as Speaker). I’ve heard high-school speech teams with more impressive,convincing public speakers.

Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner,who I have heard is considered a potential future Democratic candidate for President,delivered the keynote yesterday night. The best I can say about Warner’s speech was that it was pretty tepid. If this is the guy the Democrats would like to see running in 2016,he’s got a lot of work to do between now and then not to come off as boring as John Kerry.

Which brings me to Bob Casey,the junior Senator from Pennsylvania. More boring,unmemorable speaking,which is making me wonder if the concessions at the convention center are rice cakes and tofu with watered-down iced tea. Casey did have one good line –“John McCain calls himself a maverick,but he votes with George Bush 90 percent of the time. That’s not a maverick. That’s a sidekick.”However,one zippy line does not a good speech make. Andrew Sullivan summarized the night,pre-HRC:

I’m not judging their accomplishments,merely noting that Mark Warner and Bob Casey were terribly mediocre speakers,their speeches unfocused,their themes muddled,and their style close to non-existent. I guess none of this matters much until the networks move in at 10 pm. But what’s been broadcast tonight has been a meandering,tedious mess. I always associated the Obama campaign with crisp,clear messaging. Not tonight.

There have been a few bright spots,though. It’s just that the DNC somehow scheduled these brilliant speakers for times when people wouldn’t be listening or watching. Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s speech was the best of the convention so far (even better than Mrs. Obama’s or Sen. Clinton’s),one that would have been a great opening speech if it weren’t for Nancy Pelosi (and,presumably,the rest of the party) regarding him just one step up from persona non grata Mike Gravel. Kucinich,who has been the Democrats’winsome but doomed Don Quixote for the last two Presidential primaries,was scheduled to speak at 4:35pm on Tuesday,well before anyone would be paying attention. If you missed his speech,it’s absolutely a must-watch:

text of Rep. Kucinich’s speech is available here

Obviously the speeches by Michelle Obama and HRC have been the big draws,but I’d say neither of them quite measured up to Kucinich’s frantic elf-self hopping around at the podium denouncing the Bush Administration.
Likewise,Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer’s speech last night was a real crowd-pleasing barn-burner toward the end and would have been a massive improvement over Warner’s warm vanilla tapioca keynote. It took him a few minutes to get going,but once he got the crowd invested in his call-and-response,the speech really took off. You can view it here:

text of Gov. Schweitzer speech is available here

Hopefully tonight BillJeff and Biden follow Kucinich and Schweitzer’s lead and bring the real goods,or I’m going to start wishing for Billy Mays to give all the speeches in Denver from here on out.

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