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Analysis: In His Element, America's Speech-Giver-in-Chief Soars, Kaine Fizzles

(1) The Bernie folks booed Leon Panetta, President Obama's former Defense Secretary and CIA director. Too serious about killing terrorists and keeping the country safe for the far-Left's liking, it seems.


(2) Joe Biden was likable, over-the-top, and a little bit goofy.  Per usual. His personal family loss engenders sincere nonpartisan sympathy, which manifested itself again tonight. He played the blue collar card, as always, and ripped into Donald Trump -- employing the word "literally" too often, as always, and getting hyper-political immediately after promising an apolitical part of the speech. In other words, Biden was Biden. If you like that sort of thing, you dug it.  He'd be a much better nominee than Hillary.  Trump is lucky to have her.

(3) I wasn't sure how Mike Bloomberg would play, but he did very well. Reviled by conservatives for being a petty, gun-grabbing nanny-stater (who occasionally tells important truths), Bloomberg specifically tailored his address to independent voters. He praised Republicans and Democrats alike, drawing some boos for mentioning education reform and deficit reduction. But his audience was sitting at home, not in the hall.  His message was well-designed and effective.  Bloomberg framed his remarks as an appeal to pragmatism and sanity, begging people to reject Trump and select Hillary, whom he called the only responsible choice:

(4) Tim Kaine was...not good. He seems like a nice, genuine guy -- despite having gutlessly sold out to the abortion extremists who dominate his party. Twitter compared him to a goofy dad, which seems about right. The content of his speech was instantly forgettable, with the possible exception of his cringe-y Trump impression. His delivery was halting and tentative. He seemed uncomfortable in the limelight. He did not look or sound like someone who's ready to be one heartbeat away from the Oval Office.  It probably won't matter.  His personal background is impressive. He's known as a good man with a good family. And his (ostensible) moderation is at least a symbolic departure from the inexorable leftward slide of the party. But Kaine is a do-no-harm VP pick, and so he cleared that low bar this evening.


(5) President Obama's tenure in office is nearly over, thankfully. Despite a gauzy introductory video and some requisite boasting about his record, Obama's two signature "accomplishments" -- Obamacare and the Iran deal -- are enduringly unpopular, failing, and built on lies. The vast majority of Americans believe we're on the wrong track as a nation under his divisive leadership. The president's approval rating has benefited from America's historically-alienating and -disliked major party nominees.  His tribute to Hillary Clinton, and his criticisms of Donald Trump, played very well in an arena packed with adoring fans.  Obama was in his element, giving a soaring speech, the themes of which often diverged from his actions and tone on the job.  He devoted portions of the address to describing Trump as un-Republican and non-conservative, fashioning passages to appeal to disaffected center-right voters.  And of course he offered a heavy dose of liberalism to the gathered partisans.  He talks a good game on unity, and he did so again tonight.  Practicing what he preaches is not his strong suit.  Bottom line: Hillary's favorable rating is horrendous.  And as of this week, it's identical to Trump's.  She joined Obama on stage as the conclusion of what felt like his presidential valediction, all smiles.  It's her moment.  But she is not a talented, trusted, or beloved politician.  If she's going to get a bounce -- and she likely will -- she can thank both Obamas and her husband for it.  I'm sure Chelsea will be lovely, and Hillary will give a workmanlike speech, but I almost wonder if this would actually be the better -- if totally implausible -- play for her:


Onward, to Thursday's anticlimactic finale....

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