Day’s End and Night Watch

Well, they’re up to Louisiana in the official roll call vote in Charlotte, but I’m going to go ahead and wrap up my evening coverage.

Best as I can tell, the only negative things anyone is saying about Clinton’s remarkable speech is that it was too long (this is part of the “upstaging” theory conservatives were promoting all day), and that the Obama-Clinton hug was too short. Man, talk about going for the capillaries! I think the Romney campaign is now deeply regretting its many earlier efforts to praise Clinton at Obama’s expense. I would hope they’d have the decency to finally take down the welfare ads, or at least remove Clinton’s image from them, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Did Clinton fail to hit any of his marks? Hard to think of any. Yeah, as a welfare policy wonk back in the day, I’d have loved it if he had combined his flat repudiation of the welfare ads with a shot at what Republicans are proposing to do to all the federal support programs that “make work pay” for former welfare recipients. Other than that, I can’t think of much he missed. He covered, mostly brilliantly, the economy, the debt, health care reform, Medicare, Medicaid (including its importance to seniors, which everyone keeps forgetting), taxes, and Obama’s character. There was also a brief and somewhat perfunctory section on foreign policy, but Obama needs no help there. I said on Twitter that the speech was sort of a Bill’s Greatest Hits rolled into one text, combining humor, policy chops, eloquence, colloquial skill and passion. Yeah, it went on for a while, but he never got into the weeds, and barely wasted a breath. He also didn’t bask in the applause, quieting the crowd down repeatedly so he could continue.

Even though Republicans will probably continue to try to suggest that this speech will somehow diminish Obama’s tomorrow (a questionable argument since Ryan’s so clearly exceeded Romney’s in quality and audience response), what it really did was to reduce the pressure on the president to knock one out of the park. It is probably a shame that Clinton’s performance could make people miss or forget Elizabeth Warren’s fine prime time address, but you can’t have everything.

We’ll see if tonight’s assessments hold up overnight, but at the moment, looks like a very successful session.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.