Table Set

I don’t have a great deal to add to the impressions I posted last night about Obama’s acceptance speech and the overall Democratic Convention. As a lot of people have noted this morning, Democrats didn’t do the classic incumbent’s convention full of unending praise for the status quo, for the two obvious reasons that (1) the status quo isn’t very positive, but also (2) Mitt Romney and the GOP better represents the economic status quo, and more importantly the status quo ante.

You can judge for yourself how well Obama and other Democrats did in making the president the patriotic embodiment of a country struggling through a plague of bad fortune and against legions of bad people to achieve the kind of enlightened and prosperous 21th century so many anticipated during Bill Clinton’s last days in office. Kevin Drum thought Obama kind of phoned it in. Steve Benen, by contrast, considered the speech appropriately “presidential,” strategically adept in presenting a stark “choice” between candidates, and thematically powerful in calling on Americans to exhibit a sense of “citizenship.”

The only thing I’m really confident about is that the “enthusiasm gap” we’ve been told about the entire cycle may have largely dissipated. The Democratic Convention did about as good a job as anyone could reasonably expect in highlighting both positive and negative reasons for Democrats turning out to vote. And the Democrats in the hall responded powerfully. The hatefulness they (or at least those living in battleground states) are about to see pouring from every television screen once the 504(c)(4) and Super-PAC ads let the pursestrings rip will likely reinforce that enthusiasm, regardless of their effect on the tiny band of swing voters they are aimed at.

So aside from the debates and the ever-exciting possibility of actual real-life events, the bottom line now for Team Obama may come down to the power of its allegedly vast and superior GOTV operation. After Charlotte it appears Democratic “base” voters are going to be “fired up and ready to go.” They need a skillful organization to give their enthusiasm its maximum electoral clout.

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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.