The transition between Monday morning and Tuesday evening was stunning. The Republican Party went into the convention on a low note after Rep. Todd Akin, Missouri Senate candidate, suggested that women's magic uteruses protect them from becoming pregnant via "legitimate rape," enmeshing the GOP in a battle of demagoguery over abortion. Meanwhile, the convention had a legitimate shot at cancellation; it seemed that the entire city was going to shut down for Hurricane Isaac. And controversies over Sarah Palin and Ron Paul not being granted featured speaking slots at the RNC seemed to be fragmenting the RNC base.
And then there was Tuesday night.
Tuesday night the RNC showed that it has something it hasn't had since Reagan: star power and appeal to independents.
Both were on full display in the person of former Rep. Artur Davis. Davis, who is black, was one of the speakers who introduced Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2008; he was, at the time, a sitting congressman from the state of Alabama. A Harvard Law graduate and famed stemwinder, he delivered an impassioned address on behalf of the then-senator.
How times have changed.
"Some of you may know, the last time I spoke at a convention, it turned out I was in the wrong place. So, Tampa, my fellow Republicans, thank you for welcoming me where I belong."
Davis is now a Republican. And he explained exactly why. "In all seriousness," he said, "do you know why so many of us believed? We led with our hearts and our dreams that we could be more inclusive than America had ever been, and no candidate had ever spoken so beautifully.
"But," he continued, "dreams meet daybreak: The jobless know what I mean, so do the families who wonder how this administration could wreck a recovery for three years and counting."
Davis wasn't the only spellbinder on the menu on Tuesday's opening night. Ann Romney appeared to give a joyous and well-calibrated address celebrating American woman and reintroducing her husband to the public as a solid husband and father, a caring human being and a trustworthy leader. Then, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie strode to the stage, clapping his hands in energetic anticipation. To say that the crowd was fired up would be an understatement.
There is juice to the Romney campaign. And Paul Ryan hasn't even spoken yet. The Obama machine no longer has the star power; they no longer have the orators. They have a rotten record -- and it's a record on which they simply can't run.
No wonder they're scared.