Paul Greenberg

But all that was scarcely the essence of her appeal Tuesday night. All that was just boilerplate. What struck the listener was that Hillary Clinton had finally achieved, yes, a presidential presence. It was unmistakable. The lady had arrived - just in time to welcome another candidate as her party's nominee. But she's laid a strong foundation. You could almost see the numerals forming in her listeners' minds: 2012. But 2008 might have been her year if only she'd learned a little more a little sooner.

What thoughts must have been going through her always savvy husband's mind as he looked down on the scene, showing outward pride? Was he inwardly composing his own speech for the next night? Surely he would not have wanted to linger on the obvious - that if not for his own oafish role in his wife's campaign, and in other better-forgotten episodes, his spouse might be the one delivering the acceptance speech at this convention.

That's when a familiar thought occurred, the same thought I'd entertained so often during the long, dismal twilight of the Clintons' post-impeachment time in the White House as all the dreams were ground away. And this year they'd so yearned to return. What a tireless, intelligent, undiscourageable couple with so many (if mainly political) gifts.

The thought: Oh, what might have been!

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.