The Democratic and Republican National Conventions are less news events,more marketing campaigns. Yet,it is unusual for a candidate,and a White House incumbent at that,to be overshadowed,overwhelmingly,by a predecessor. What George W. Bush didnt do for Mitt Romney,Bill Clinton did for Barack Obama. Its debatable if Bush Jr would have been an asset. But Clinton had both his own credentials and Obamas tangible record not an untested hopefuls vaguely uttered agenda to his advantage. He used the former brilliantly to defend the latter,delivering a point-by-point rebuttal of Republican arguments and spelling out the case for Obamas re-election because of the economy,not despite it. Coming from one of Americas most successful presidents with the economy,this was the defence Democrats were dreaming of.
The presidents own speech,perhaps in response to four-year-long GOP swipes at his rhetorical flourish,was professional and somewhat pedestrian,missing the passion and failing to peak at what,in 2008,would have been opportune moments. He avoided risks and came rather late to the specifics of Romneys vulnerabilities,as in foreign policy,skirting,in the process,his own healthcare headache. But the DNCs You did it acknowledgment of the ordinary American was precision-made for the RNCs We built it message earlier.
Obamas circumstances have changed. As president,he couldnt ask the electorate to ride the audacious hope of 2008. Thats why,as advertisements for Obama,this DNC would be remembered for Michelle Obamas warm and intelligently sculpted speech and Joe Bidens uncharacteristically fiery rousing of the audience,to say nothing of Clinton. What lies ahead is a hard campaign,minus the party in Tampa or Charlotte. Then there will be the economy to fix again.