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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First night

I agree with Sullivan on this:

The notion that tonight should have been about ripping the bark off the president seems to me misplaced. No one needs to be persuaded that the country is on the wrong track. We have endured one of the worst presidencies in American history, a stalling economy, and a war that was as deceptively packaged as it was poorly executed. The wrong track number is at 80 percent. What was necessary tonight was rebutting the only real weapon the Republicans have: dragging Obama into the mud, throwing every extremist attack they can at him, painting him as a commie, alien, anti-American freak. For good measure, they had tried to paint Michelle as an angry black radical.

They failed.

I'm finding it sort of ironic that the netroots -- you know, us people who have been screaming at Democrats to get rough with the GOP -- haven't engaged in this criticism. It's been coming from the Carvilles and other "Democratic strategists" that somehow make their way on TV. For those of us who were born in the combative blogosphere, we're pretty much happy with how the first night panned out.

Why? Perhaps because being close to the ground, we understand that the problem the Obamas have is not that the country thinks things are peachy. 80 percent of Americans think the country is headed the wrong direction, and Bush and Congressional Republicans are getting the lion's share of the blame. It's true that McCain is trying to use his "maverick" status to distance himself from his party, but piercing that fabrication isn't the Obamas biggest problem.

No, the biggest problem they face is the b.s. about them not being real Americans -- that he is foreign and muslim, that she is an angry black radical, that they don't "look" how a First Family should look. And so Obama's team set out to diffuse those fears on the first night.

In the last couple of days, I've come to fully embrace Biden's pick as VP -- not because of his personal politics (which still chafe), but because it signals that the Obama campaign plans on taking off the gloves. Obama himself may believe in the lofty rhetoric of a "new politics" and changing the tone and all that, and that's fine. But it's clear he realized that if he couldn't do the dirty work, he'd need someone who would. You don't pick a Biden and then muzzle him.

So there are three more days of convention. We don't have to beat up on Republicans all four nights. The anti-GOP case has already been made by Bush and his enablers over the past eight years. There are two tasks left -- to show American the Obamas are, well, real Americans, and to tie McCain to the GOP.

The former has now been accomplished. I suspect today and tomorrow will handle the latter.

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