Crunch time for Dems

Chastened by their years in the minority and threats by the Republicans to make that status permanent, the Democrats are determined that nothing will derail their prospects of regaining the White House, and that begins with their convention in Denver.

They are showing, for Democrats, an unusual blend of confidence and caution. The caution was evident in Barack Obama’s choice of running mate Joe Biden, arguably the safest pick among the names that were floated. Biden, 65, brings to the ticket two qualities Obama lacks — gray hair and Washington experience — and 36 years in the Senate and foreign policy in particular.

The keynote speaker, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, was also a safe choice. A rising star in the party, he is that rare Democrat who is not on the outs with any of the party’s many factions.

The confidence shows in giving Hillary Clinton a primetime speaking slot and a chance for her followers to demonstrate on the floor. But whips have been assigned to each state delegation to ensure they don’t detract from the grand theme of party unity.

The Republicans would like to see the Democrats in their usual disarray, and were said to have planned an ad entitled "Passed Over" commiserating with Clinton for not being chosen as Obama’s running mate, a solicitude for the former first lady’s feelings that the GOP hasn’t heretofore shown.

The inevitable protesters have been kept at a safe remove by the massive security surrounding the convention, which itself is being held in a fortress-like enclosure. The Democrats are determined to have a flawless launch to the White House for Obama. If there is a stumble in the campaign, it will not be in Denver, not if convention planners can help it.

In their disciplined adherence to the script and their high production values, these 2008 Democrats are, well, almost Republican.