Neither convention was a huge success. The Republican National Convention was, like their presidential candidate, perfectly competent but uninspiring.
But at least they had competence. The Democrats had procedural chaos, inclement weather, security issues, and some notably embarrassing speeches, particularly that of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
First the Democrats took God out of the platform. Then they tried to put Him back in. Half of the arena booed God three times. They rejected an offer to pray by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, but let him only when it became a controversy. Democrats tried in 2004 and 2008 to appear religious because of George W. Bush’s appeal among the supposedly lock-step evangelical values voters. The strategy failed in 2004, but somehow worked in 2008. They’re not even trying it in 2012.
The RNC stage was an important opportunity for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to introduce himself directly to the average voter, unmediated by reporters. His was mostly a positive message, and he generally avoided negative attacks on the president; it was a wise strategy: We’ve seen this president for four years, and we know who he is. Mr. Romney, on the other hand, is still known primarily from Democratic attacks in the media and in advertisements. Mr. Romney seized the moment, and looked like a president giving a State of the Union, entering the arena shaking hands up the aisle.
In contrast, what was there for Mr. Obama to say? Have we not heard it all already? He has done nothing but talk for four years as president, after getting elected for doing nothing but talk for four years as senator. Therefore, of necessity, Mr. Obama had to recycle some material. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer called it "a lot of stuff we’ve heard before." NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie spoke of "an excitement gap." Even Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum admitted that Mr. Obama "phoned it in." When the press is skeptical of Mr. Obama, then you know that he’s in trouble.