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09/06/2012

Day Two—a cerebral schoolhouse #DNC2012

by Jeremy Hooper

If the first round of speeches were marked by fire, passion, and a certain First Lady, the second night in the convention hall was, to my eyes and ears, a 201209061102much wonkier night of political conviction. Yes, there were heartfelt moments punctuated by Dreamers, Cleavers, and Rush-derided women demanding respect. But to my eyes and ears—which were neatly situated in various parts of the hall, press and non-press, for all six hours of both nights—the second section of this three part Convention trilogy came across as a more policy-focused session than the one before.

This was of course capped off by President Bill Clinton's impassioned but, yes, highly informative speech. The man was playing the part of retired instructor who came back to lecture to a room and an America facing problems that are both deeply familiar and distressingly unique. "listen up, this is important," he interjected in regular intervals. "You should know this," he said at other times. And he meant it, too. He didn't just want the audience, both on site and (especially?) at home, to just feel what he was saying, something that might the the goal of other speakers at events like this one. No, no—President Clinton wanted the words to sink in, hoping that a raised consciousness would rally those for whom a heightened emotional response might not be enough to seal the deal.


My prediction for tonight: A balance of the two. If I may speak generally about the most powerful man in the world, I would say that President Obama possesses a healthy mix of both the First Lady and his predecessor in the Democratic presidential lineup. President Obama can lecture like the professor he once was and he can ignite a room like few figures to come before. I expect a good equilibrium in his speech. I don't think he will make the room feel as intimate as President Clinton is so freakily able to do. I don't think he will turn a room to mush the way Michelle Obama so regularly does. His night will be somewhere in the middle—an able noting of the contrast between his challenger and himself, a fiery call to action to an electorate whose enthusiasm the pundits questions, and a healthy dose of the commitment to fairness and opportunity that the Democrats are championing here in Charlotte.

I can't wait to experience it, whatever "it" turns out to be.

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