Paul Greenberg
Everything and everybody hits the wall as a national convention approaches its crescendo, diminuendo, and all the riffs in between -- all crammed into its grand finale: a nightlong recitativo with Wagnerian trills -- a cross between Ravel's "Bolero" and Little Egypt's hoochie-coochie.

For this is the way a national political convention ends, this is the way a national political convention ends, this is the way a national political convention ends, not with a whimper but a bang. Lots of bangs.

Which brings us to -- there's no avoding him -- the Hon. Joe Biden, vice president of the United States and shouter-in-chief. Talk about a ring-tailed roarer of a speech: If he had deliberately aimed to raise the volume and lower the level of public discourse in these kind-of-united but always raucous states of America, he could not have done any better. Or any worse. If there were a picture next to the noun dem-a-gogue in the dictionary, it would be his.

The crowd inside the arena loved it, loved him, loved itself. You could almost see the delegates hugging themselves. At last, their fondest hates and fondest loves, namely for the other party and their own, had been expressed. Loudly. "Four more years!" the chant began. "Four more years!" What a prospect to relish: Four more years of Joe Biden shouting at us. (Do the children have to hear this?)

But then came the maestro himself, the great orchestrator who would find the lost chord, the Toscanini of this show who would elevate its tone and turn all this rhetorical mayhem into mellifluence -- the one and only Mr. Cool himself, detached as ever but always, never forget it, just one of us. Just one of The People, as Evita Peron used to say. He stepped to the rostrum, the pandemonium slowly ebbed, and at last the great crowd grew quiet. At last it would hear from the man himself, the man whom this whole show had been about, and who began by assuring us it wasn't about him at all. It was about us. How about that? We built this after all.

It was Chesterton who, on getting his first glimpse of Times Square, with all its blinking lights and neon dazzlements, commented: "What a garden of delights this place would be for anyone who couldn't read." What a stirring, inspiring sight a national political convention might be if only it were conducted wordlessly, without all the requisite mandatory platitudes, beatitudes and just attitudes.

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.