There will no doubt be cynics who thought that she didn't believe what she was saying, just as some cynics thought Michelle Obama last night wasn't the person who appeared on stage. But just as Michelle struck me as authentic last night, Hillary Clinton struck me as authentic tonight. And I have to add, Hillary also struck me as a class act.
Over and over again, I have heard that the Clintons only care about themselves. What we saw tonight is that Hillary Clinton cares a great deal about her party and her country, too. As both Governor Rendell and Candy Crowley have said on the air tonight, she posed exactly the right question to her supporters: were you in this just for me or were you in this for the larger causes? Isn't that the right question for Democrats?
What do you think? Would welcome your thoughts.
A moment ago, I had an opportunity to offer some views on air about Mark Warner's keynote address - always a privilege to be here on CNN. While no barn burner - so it probably didn't play well in the hall - and offering almost no red meat, I thought it was actually very effective because it introduced some fresh thinking about the future, offering hope that we can work our way out of this economic mess. Politics has too often dismissed the importance of technology, science and education.
Just after, Alex Castellanos turned to the rest of us here on the NY panel to say that if this becomes a race about the past vs. the future, the Democrats might have a much better chance of winning. I think he is right on target. We so much need as a people to move beyond the arguments of the past in finding the best path to the future.
I have been a critic of the convention choreography for a lot of the past two nights. But I join others in saluting a party that helps us to face the future and tries to draw upon the talents of all Americans, not just a favored some.
That conversation on CNN with the basketball star Charles Barkley was one of the single best testimonials to Barack Obama that I have seen here at the convention. He showed that one can be low key and be even more effective sometimes than if you are bombastic. I Would welcome your views.
In the meantime, it has been revealing (again) to read the many comments that voters are registering on the CNN Web site. Some of them have been pretty sharp. Please know that we try to read them hear - even
when they hurt!
The second night off the convention is off to a much stronger start than last night. The Democrats are smart to showcase 8 women senators in a row from their party, keeping their appearances short and punchy, and helping to build toward the climactic speech by Hillary Clinton.
This is a fitting way for the party to celebrate the 88th anniversary of the amendment that finally enabled women to vote - and it was literally 88 years ago on this day that the amendment was certified. Republicans will need - and want - to celebrate this occasion, too (Carl Bernstein and I have been wondering privately on the set tonight whether this might point to a surprise choice by John McCain for vice president: Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas. We'll wait and see.)
In the meantime, one question tonight is whether the Democrats can somehow juggle the different emphases of the evening into a single message. After all, this is a night that was officially labeled a night about the economy (the number one issue of the campaign). At the same time, Democrats rightly want to celebrate women. And then, too, a central purpose of the night - especially with Hillary's speech - is to unify the party. How will the Democrats successfully blend these into a single message? Stay tuned.
The Democrats should be enormously grateful to Michelle Obama: after a very slow start to the convention, punctuated by a moving tribute to Teddy Kennedy and his own rousing speech, the first evening was in danger of becoming an entirely lost opportunity. But Michelle rescued it.
She was extraordinary, talking in ways that were both conversational - always welcome in people's living room - but also inspiring. She spoke in ways that reached out to people of all backgrounds. Democrats should be both proud and grateful.
It is impossible to know whether how many people will accept her message. To a significant degree, that is of course because she represents such a departure from the traditional order of things in America. She represents a new future - of women who are not only devoted mothers and wives but also highly educated, caring people ... and, yes, African-Americans, Hispanics, and people of many diferent backgrounds. One day the country will be there. Is it prepared to be there now? I'm frankly not sure. We are living through one of the most important chapters in the American story
A few minutes ago, James Carville said the Democrats have been hiding their message tonight - and I think he was on the mark.
But Craig Robinson, Michelle's brother, has helped to put things back on track. His basketball analogies about Barack Obama was some of the best validation we have heard about the candidate in this campaign. Now Michelle has opened up well with a basketball note... that connects with voters. The Democrats need to make this fellow more visible... now on to Michelle's message.
Teddy Kennedy has finally brought this convention to life - and sent the first powerful message to the country.
This is conventioneering at its best - a moving tribute by the daughter of John Kennedy, an excellent film, and a courageous, inspiring speech by Senator Kennedy.
Finally, the Democrats have started to frame the message they want out of the convention - that America faces a huge choice this fall. The Republicans will have their own version of that choice, of course, but now the Democrats have a chance to put it in their own terms, and that is what Kennedy accomplished.
Moreover, he started to change the story line of this convention - that it is all about Obama versus the Clintons. Teddy reminded viewers that Democrats represent a much bigger family. At the very least, it is a party not only of the Clintons and Obama but also a party of the Kennedys. In that sense, he can be a much-needed healing force for the Democrats, bringing them out more unified.
The Republicans will vigorously contest much of what Kennedy said, as they should ... but for now, a lot of Democrats can come out of tonight with a battle cry, "Let's Win This One for Teddy!"
The biggest surprise so far is how slowly this convention is getting off the ground. It is clearly pumping up people in the convention hall, but for a much larger national audience - the audience that is so important in November - there has been very little offered so far to rivet people's attention.
Why did Jimmy Carter have no speaking role? Why indeed did Nancy Pelosi not have a far bigger speaking role? She is, after all, the first woman in history to be Speaker of the House.
To be sure, big events are coming tonight - but I am surprised that there has been so little of substance that has been compelling for television.
Let's wait and see how it goes.