Michelle Obama was spectacular Monday night. Poised, charming, beautiful, and most of all, authentic.
She may have been poised, she may have made few (if any) mistakes, but she was anything but spectacular or authentic. Here true feelings are well-known to us right now, and believe me, she is not Claire Huxtable in the least. Her speech was marginal, at best; nothing more than a stump speech.
As Karl Rove commented after the speech, she had an opportunity to connect and missed it.
Ted Kennedy was heroic. Rising out of a wheelchair to stride out on stage, he showed us all the meaning of courage.
I am no fan of the man, but I will not engage in the same mean-spirited attacks at a time when his health is failing. I wish him well, but the word heroic doesn't apply when talking about a speech.
But unless you're married to the nominee or fighting off brain cancer, each speaker has one job at the Democratic convention: make the case for change. That case begins with a resounding, ringing indictment of the failed Bush-McCain policies. In other words: attack.
Should they attack McCain's years of experience working with both sides of the aisle? Should they attack his service record? Should they attack the man that didn't always follow the Bush doctrine, to the letter? How about his plans to drill for oil? Or what about his stance on not raising taxes, when the economy is sputtering?
The big issue the Democrats could attack McCain on if they would, should be his immigration policies. But that (within itself) is hard to do, when those that should be attacking are close to being on the same side of the issue. You cannot make a credible case in this area, when you see illegals as gravy train votes.
But the only thing Begala knows is attack, for he is a political pit bull. It's the old "tear down the other side for political gain" approach. And so it goes, what he is not considering in this instance is the difference between a legitimate attack and a smear campaign. He doesn't recognize the difference. He wants to keep harping on the same old tired things that have lost the Democrats the last two presidential elections. He wants to play the same tired class warfare card, hoping enough people will believe that Democrats will redeem the oppressed and afflicted from the evil Republicans. That is the Democrats' right to do so if they wish, but it's not getting them anywhere.
By contrast, McCain's campaign is right to point out the countless flaws in the Obama candidacy, because there is much to criticize. No experience at the national and international level, no judgment, and no real record to evaluate how the man will govern. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Last weekend the Obama campaign clearly demonstrated this and yet, for some unknown reason, they took away the only thing they had going in their favor. The change factor, with Obama being the outsider, was their only hope. But now with Biden on the ticket, it's gone. It disappeared and vanished into the thin air of Denver.
If this isn't enough, there's another thing to consider. By appointing Biden to the #2 slot, Obama has made himself look much weaker than he already did. From now on throughout this entire campaign, whenever Biden tells us all of his many years of service in the Senate and his many accomplishments, he will be inferring that his running mate does not. And we already knew this, from day one. If I am advising McCain, this is what I keep hitting.
So Begala and Carville can call for all of the attacks they want, empty suits carry little credibility when making empty attacks. When an opponent such as McCain has a lifetime of experiences, there are bound to be mistakes along the way and those things are fair game. But it's more important to note, the person who never makes mistakes is the one who doesn't do anything. And when the opponent has no record of doing anything, the criticism must be directed at that lack of accomplishment and the resources the candidate used to rise to this level in the first place (SEE: William Ayers).