The Democrats, for whom turmoil is a way of life, seem to have pulled off a near flawless convention with excellent primetime speeches by the principles and plenty of feel-good moments, even if they were scripted.
Hillary and Bill Clinton at long last got on board with Barack Obama and whatever their private thoughts seemed to do so wholeheartedly. The former first lady moved that Obama be nominated by acclamation. And Bill Clinton finally delivered his political benediction that based on his eight years as president Obama was indeed qualified to be president.
Sen. Joe Biden, who fills several large gaps in Obama’s resume, proved to be as eager a running mate as you can get. And after losing his wife and child in a car accident and for a while raising two boys as a single father, he has a moving personal narrative.
The gathering of Biden’s large family on the stage and a surprise appearance by Obama underscored a key point of the convention: the Democrats plan to wrest family values from the Republicans. All the speeches were vetted by Obama’s staff and every speaker, it seemed, had a family tale of overcoming hardships and humble origins to realize the American dream.
Also by order of the campaign and to the frustration of the delegates, the convention was light on attacks on John McCain and President Bush. The order of the day was non-stop praise of the candidate. Still smarting from John Kerry’s fatal delay in responding to personal attacks on his character and record, some delegates openly worry that Obama also will be too slow and soft in responding.
It is a legitimate worry. The fall campaign shows early signs of turning nasty even though three of the candidates are Senate colleagues and two of them, Biden and McCain, are old friends.
Rank-and-file Democrats seem as bemused as everyone else is by Obama’s unusual mixed-race background and odd name. But by the rock-star finale of the convention, they seemed satisfied they had named a solid standard-bearer and, despite earlier unease, optimistic about Election Day.
And so the Democrats departed Denver united or as united as Democrats get.