DENVER (CNN) - These days, one question hovers over every potential first lady: Does she have a political agenda? And is it any different from her husband’s?
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/25/art.claire0825.ap.jpg caption="Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill has been one of Sen. Obama's most ardent supporters."]
DENVER (CNN) - Claire McCaskill’s from Missouri - a near-perfect bellwether state. It’s partly Southern, partly Northern, partly urban, partly rural. A key battleground state in this election, it’s voted for the winner in the every single election of the past century but one - why it voted for Adlai Stevenson in 1956, I have no idea. And of course, she’s a woman who endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. She’s using feminist themes against John McCain.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/25/art.leach0825.ap.jpg caption="Former Republican Congressman Jim Leach addressed the opening night of the Democratic National Convention."]
DENVER (CNN) - Jim Leach was a former liberal Republican. It’s an endangered and nearly extinct species. Most liberal Republicans have left the party. Many of them have become Democrats; many of them, like Jim Jeffords, have become independents.
This is very significant in the Northeast, which is the homeland of liberal Republicans, and where the Republican party is simply dying. Just as Republicans prospered by absorbing conservative Southern Democrats in the 1970s and 1980s. Democrats are now prospering by absorbing liberal Republicans in several parts of the country — primarily the East Coast, but also Iowa and parts of the West Coast. When Democrats say they want to appeal to “like-minded Republicans,” they’re talking about Republicans like Jim Leach.
This is important because it represents Obama’s effort to appear bipartisan. But Jim Leach is not exactly a symbol of the Republican party today.
Leach is extolling an old vision of bipartisanship that has been in danger of becoming extinct, and that Barack Obama is trying to revive.
What we’re hearing is a liberal Republican attacking his own party. It’s a nice bookend to Zell Miller’s famous attack on the Democratic Party at the Republican convention in 2004. Republicans have absorbed conservative Democrats like Zell Miller, Democrats are absorbing liberal Republicans like Jim Leach.
We can’t remember the last time a Republican spoke at a Democratic convention.
DENVER (CNN) - There are Chicago people speaking who worked with Obama personally. The speakers are describing his early career as a community organizer.
I wonder how many Americans know what a community organizer does? When he describes himself as a “community organizer,” I wonder what that means to most people — they’re probably unfamiliar with the term.
It is now 10 o’clock on the East Coast — the hour when the audience usually expands, and the hour when the big speakers come out. This is ultra-prime time.
A wonderful and heroic speech by the last lion of a great American family, a family that has borne too great a burden.
This was the laying on of hands, the transfer of the moral leadership of the Democratic Party, which the Kennedy's hold, to Barack Obama - a new generation of Democratic leader.
Watch: Ted Kennedy " The dream lives on"
It is the most powerful gift Obama has received.
May God be with the sentator. No family should have to bear as much.
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!"
For Democrats this is an emotional night; the last chance to honor a man and a family that has been the foundation for much of their lives, their beliefs, and their dreams.
A family that has lived with tragedy but never lost its spirit or its sense of purpose. For every person in the hall or watching, it will be a night they will always remember.
Sen. Kennedy looked strong, not feeble, and spoke as always with a passion. He truly has been a brave and courageous man who inspired others and has been the soul of his party and served for the good of his country - not my party, but my country.
The country, the Senate, and his party were better for his service!
Sen. Kennedy made a much anticipated appearance at the opening night of the Democratic National Convention. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
DENVER (CNN) - This crowd loves Ted Kennedy, of course, not only for what he signifies, but because he passed the torch to their man at a point when it was unexpected. And they’re very aware that it may be the last major speech he ever gives. They’re hopeful it’s not — but fearful it might be.
DENVER (CNN) - Ted Kennedy looks good — there was some concern that he might look debilitated or weak, but he looks good. He’s a fighter. The reception he’s getting is reminiscent of the reception that his brother Robert got in 1964 when he addressed the convention after their brother John was killed — and his voice is still powerful. He seems impressively hale, and in good form. He looks good, and he sounds good.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/25/art.convention.gi.jpg caption="The convention hall might be fired up, but the TV audience likely isn't ."]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.