As I watched the convention coverage it occurred to me that I have been watching Democratic Party conventions with interest since 1964. As it began at 6:00 AM here I drank my coffee and tried to understand what I was seeing. I confess I could not believe my eyes. This is the first night, and for many, the night that will determine if they continue to watch the convention at all. The various speakers for the first two hours were politicians who were cashing in their chits to address the convention on it's opening night and not necessarily exciting. There was a palpable lack of involvement from the floor and what the party faithful call "red meat" issues that we have in abundance, but were not used to maintain interest.
By the third hour I thought this was the night when we would celebrate that Obama won the nomination, but Ted Kennedy won the night with what may well be his last appearance at a Democratic Convention. He, at least, mentioned Gay Rights. He, at least, knows how to deliver a speech even if it was at a risk to his own health.
Who designed the pace of this?, I asked myself. Why, with the necessity of ending the war, rebuilding the economy, $4.00 gasoline, health care, education and the abundance of other issues that could excite a crowd, was this first night so very light on substance?
Finally, mercifully, but at 10:00 PM Eastern Time came Michelle Obama's introductory video, which, had it been two hours sooner, would have been a brilliant way to have captured an audience and maintained their interest. The love of that family is evident and palpable. Her message was moving and strong. The exchange between the family members was real and genuine for the world to see...if they were still watching.
Because of the hour, and I imagine the previous tedium of the night I observed yawns and fidgets in the assembled party faithful even during her excellent testimony of why she has Barack Obama as her partner in life and how proud she is of their shared goals and values and their commitment to the future. Finally we get a glimpse into the mind and motivations of the candidate by the person who knows him best in the world. All I could think of at the time was I hope enough people still saw it as the hour approached 11:00PM Eastern time.
I know that they wish to proceed carefully until the second evening when Hillary addresses the convention to rally her own faithful within the party. She deserves her moment in the spotlight and has earned it. Even so, why must we wait another day to be strongly reminded of the issues that unite rather than divide the Democrats? Why must we squander the prime time hours we could use to convince many Democratic voters who still need to connect with Barack Obama and the national issues that threaten to overwhelm the nation?
I know where I came from in Indiana there are plenty of Democrats who have never voted for a minority candidate and they need to connect with him in exactly the way Michelle Obama expressed. I know the same is true in Florida where I lived for five years. East coast voters, if they missed this last hour and many did, will have to be reinvigorated by this convention if they again tune in to it.
To say that I am disappointed is an understatement.