Paul Greenberg
The message of the Democrats' big show at Charlotte has been a mirror image of the Republicans' in Tampa. Everything the nation was told at Tampa about the ever fluid State of the Union and what to do about it was turned upside-down and inside-out at Charlotte.

Think of it a two-act play. The second act just reverses the plot of the first. As the audience files out, it's left to take its choice of alternate universes and alternative approaches to it.

This is called the two-party system, and except for a late unpleasantness or two, notably 1861-65, it has remained remarkably the same since the two parties were called Federalists and Republicans at the beginning of the Republic. The names have changed, and, boy, circumstances have, but not the attitudes -- conservative, liberal and all over the ballpark. Hey, what a country: The more things stay the same, the more they change. But it's a great show if you can stand it. Kind of like life.

To sum up the story out of Charlotte so far:

Monday, the delegates milled around. They were offered warm-up acts like Wesley Clark's. It was only appropriate that the star of a reality show should be introducing this quadrennial one.

Tuesday, the keynoter keynoted. Nothing much new there. Chris Christie, Julian Castro, you pays your money and you takes your poor choice. But then Michelle Obama took the rostrum and the country's heart, and this show got on the road. Expectations were raised, met and exceeded.

Wednesday, center stage belonged to the Big Guy, the Comeback Kid, the party's Super Salesman, The Closer. Yes, the boy president who's now the boy elder statesman and enjoying every minute of it. He was going to talk about Barack Obama. And so Bill Clinton did when he wasn't absorbed in his favorite subject, namely Bill Clinton:

"I want . . . I want . . . I want . . . Through my foundation . . . I'm so proud . . . I'm also grateful . . . I hate . . . I like . . . I understand . . . I experienced . . . I believe . . . I think . . . I love. . . ."

And so on for 50 minutes by the clock and an eternity in television time -- unless you're as fascinated by Bill Clinton as Bill Clinton is. The crowd in the arena definitely was. Happy Days were here again, or soon would be. The crowd hung on his every word. Even as across the country the lights were going out and folks were wondering when he would get to the most blessed words in any speech of Bill Clinton's: "And in conclusion. . . ."

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.