Three quick impressions from Day One of the convention, which I am blogging old-school (i.e., without leaving my living room.) First, it was pretty much a flawless night. Gore continued his post-2000 mode of talking much faster than he did as a candidate, which makes him seem much less like a condescending schoolteacher, without lapsing into his new revival preacher mode, which can be a little unnerving to watch. Clinton was in top form, of course, and even Carter came out swinging. Interesting that Hillary was really the least effective of the bunch, though she was mostly just introducing her husband.
Two lines really stuck with me. First, Gore's re-formulation of the Reagan "are you better off" line. "I sincerely ask those watching at home who supported President Bush four years ago: did you really get what you expected from the candidate you voted for?" Kerry and Edwards should run hard with that question this fall -- I think it'll play brilliantly with the swing voters they need to win over.
The other was a line I think came out of the Chris Matthews discussion of the Kerry Vietnam stories, though perhaps someone actually said it on the podium: "He turned the boat around." That's the perfect character message for this campaign: it reminds everyone of his service (and Bush's lack thereof); it echoes the line about the 9/11 heroes running into the towers; and it's a metaphor for Kerry taking hold of the ship of state and getting it back on course. As a campaign slogan, it's a thousand times better than "building a stronger America" or whatever the official Kerry/Edwards slogan is. Put it on a T-shirt now!