Refreshed from an Adirondack sojourn and bathed by the rays of Wolf Blitzer's sonorous CNN feed on the XM receiver all the way down the Thruway - "we have news just in on John McCain's potential choice and some battleground polls you won't want to miss" - we're quietly rebooting our Watsonian Situation Room here tonight with reaction to the big one - as Wolfie soft-sold it as the Honda rolled along somewhere near New Baltimore: "history in the making, the biggest speech of Barack Obama's political career."
To date, of course. To date. And I do believe this is a crucial speech, if 40 minutes or so of political yacking and phrase-making can ever wear that label. Every four years we elevate speech-making to an Olympian level, like badminton and water polo, and sit poised to throw out our collective scores for rhetorical flourishes; well, tonight Obama skates his long program and the man simply can't afford to flop all over the ice. (Whoops, he did it again with the mixed and mangled sports metaphors).
Personally, I think Obama will stick the landing.
And truth be told, he needs to. No matter how bad the Republican brand has become, no matter how well-placed the Democrats appear to be for a historic election speech, no matter how talented and battle-tested our nominee clea1rly is, his acceptance speech is the starter's gun on the general election campaign - a chance to set out a real, progressive agenda that takes hope and change and breathes the whispered, live-giving breath of policy into those successful brands of springtime.
Watching this convention in fits and starts, I think the ground is well-broken for the Democrat. These conventions are ponderous, man, ponderous (to quote Casey Kasem) and when the deep woods breezes didn't bring on sleep, Mark Warner was the man. Hillary Clinton's speech was the highlight of this Mile High confab thus far, igniting a healthy rush to the exits at PUMA headquarters and solidifying the set of sturdy tent stakes for the biggest big top in electoral politics.
Desperate to break the growing Democratic mojo - and I'm watching Sheryl Crow perform some of her more obscure numbers before what appears to be the old exterior set of the West Wing transported to the Broncos' end zone (very Vegas) - John McCain is creating a little "drama" around his vice-presidential pick. Sturdier political minds than mine have broken down the choices, but none in more hilarious style than Jim Wolcott. Joe Lieberman? "Together on stage, he and McCain would look like a gay Metamucil ad." Ha!
Now, there's some controversy in right-wing circles about that Roman-columned set. To me, it's the best of Americana - and I just came from the land of roadside attractions in upper New York State, where we played a round of mini-golf tied to great American themes and trolled by various roadside attractions, waterslides and haunted houses. So what if the stage looks like the Belaggio fountains will erupt in choreographed funk when Obama takes the stage?
Expectations? Well, the "45h anniversary of the I Have A Dream Speech" helps no one who wants to change the map by a state or two to blue. That's too damned high. And this speech ain't that speech. This is a political campaign, and this needs to be about policy, about talking points, about partisan warfare. The end game is not a move - it's a victory. A very solid, meat and potatoes speech that will sway some swing-staters is what's called for tonight. See you back here around 10 pm EDT.
UPDATE: Jason Chervokas will co-host. He was for Obama. I was for Clinton. Sometime earlier, Madison's wife had thrown him out, requesting that he never return. You get the idea.
UPDATE II: While listening to Stevie Wonder, I'm perusing my friend Fred Wilson's wishlist for tonight's speech and it's a good one. Fred was a Hillary supporter early on but is happy to back Barack.It's a businessman's list, with the cost of Iraq front and center. Money quote: "I am hoping that Obama can inspire me and the nation tonight. He's talked so much about change, but I think he needs to be really clear about what tangible change he wants to bring and how he's going to do it. Change as a slogan doesn't inspire me. A short list of top priorities would." I'm down with that.
UPDATE III: Digby has it right, especially for those of us who hanker for more content: "...if there is a problem it's message not style. Obama is a gifted orator and he should not try to change that. It would be like telling Bush to stop being a dumbass in 2004--- it's the thing that people love the most about him. Let Obama be Obama -- it got him this far and it will take him all the way."
UPDATE IV: Jeff Jarvis Twitters: "This is how Gore blew the lead he got out of his convention." Shouldn't Michael McDonald be doing Takin' It to the Streets?
UPDATE V: Obama is in the building, and so is Floyd Little (the things you can learn from Twitter). Full text here.
UPDATE VI: While we're all speechified tonight (and there's a crowd hereabouts) let's not forget about getting more people registered to fully participate in our process. I've been appraised of a big efforts to register young women to vote this year - WEVote ’08 , part of the network’s public affairs initiative, WE Empowers Women. The truly fab InternetGeekGirl is heading up all the joyous bloggy outreach, so when the water is on the hob for your post-Obama cuppa tea, skate on over to her place to learn how you can get more active in getting more folks involved in this little imperfect union of ours.