I broadcasted my radio show from both the Democratic and Republican Conventions. Here are some observations:
1. The Democrats in Denver were very excited from Day One, just as excited as I saw them at their last convention in Boston. They went on to lose the general election. But I can see why Democrats find it hard to understand it when their candidate loses. At least at the last two Democratic Conventions, it has been very easy for Democrats to believe that they have the right man and the right message.
2. There were some differences, however. In Denver, the Democrats wanted to present themselves as Middle American as possible. In Boston, the hero of the Democratic Convention was Michael Moore. But in Denver, Michael Moore was nowhere to be seen. Nor was Jimmy Carter heard from. And no Jesse Jackson, either. Also, delegates seemed more formally dressed, and there were more flags and more chants of "USA" than even at the Republican Convention. If one only looked at the convention, one could easily have assumed it was the Republicans'.
3. The Republicans had no Day One because of Hurricane Gustav and John McCain's decision to limit the first night's activities to obligatory business. This helped the Republicans insofar as it eliminated Bush-Cheney political liabilities (neither ended up attending), but it had a temporarily dampening effect on morale -- which was not completely undone the second night. It was more than undone the third night with the speeches by, among others, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani and, of course, Sarah Palin. Gov. Palin is as striking in person as she is on television and in photographs. It is difficult, if not impossible, to overstate the impact of her being named the Republicans' vice-presidential nominee.
4. The Democrats have a superstar candidate who was previously unknown, and the Republicans have a superstar candidate who was previously unknown. The former is a young African-American running for president; the latter is a young woman running for vice president. It is unlikely that there is one person on earth who predicted the four nominees.
5. At the Democratic Convention, I spoke to a number of blacks, on the radio and privately, who predicted that if Barack Obama loses, most blacks will attribute the loss to racism, especially if McCain wins by a narrow margin. They did not even rule out the possibility of some rioting.