A few thoughts on Edwards.
Friends who I watched the speech with, down on the floor just to his left, thought Edwards was about 75%. I don't know how much it appeared that way on TV. He may only have come off that way if you'd seen him a lot on the campaign trail.
His voice was slightly hoarse and cracked on certain phrases. He seemed to me like he might be getting sick.
Still, with all that, he has an irresistible charm. And he does wind the themes of this convention together in a unique, compelling way. One point: listening to Edwards tonight, and thinking back to the themes he struck during the primaries, it occurred to me how many of them have been incorporated into the message coming out of this convention.
Another thought ... There was a line down towards the end of the speech that stuck in my head: "We have to restore our respect in the world to bring our allies to us and with us. It's how we won the World Wars and the Cold War and it is how we will build a stable Iraq."
Makes perfect sense, no objection -- either on substance or on politics. But it rattled in my head. Because with those words he committed their administration to the herculean task of holding together all the centrifugal forces that are cutting that country apart.
There's nothing I disagree with in the sentiment. And it is notable (and it's been much noted) that the word was a 'stable' Iraq, not a 'democratic' Iraq. Still, a very tall order. I think Kerry is going to win this election. And I'm optimistic in general. But it has occurred to me more than once that that hypothetical next administration could be brought to grief by the occupation (and it is still an occupation) that this president has embarked the country upon. Those were fateful words, even if correct or inevitable ones.
And finally this. As I said above, I watched the Edwards speech in a standing crowd of journalists and Democratic operatives down to Edwards' left on the convention floor. At my back were two of those alchemists and engineers of sound and color, message and image, the ubiquitous handlers and speechwriters who play such an outsized role in the theater that is so much of politics.
As Edwards finished his speech and began his round of thumbs-ups and pumping fists, and as everyone else in crowd was whooping and screaming and clapping, one of those guys at my back turned to his friend and said, with quiet satisfaction and unfazed observation, "right on time." In other words, all wrapped up just minutes before eleven o'clock. Perfect television.
And it was.
Another legacy of Bill Clinton's impress on the Democratic party.