[6:45] Dan Rather is running a pre-taped interview with Hillary Clinton as part of general news coverage leading up to CBS' official campaign coverage. "Have you ever thought about being President? isn't exactly tough. Actually, the emerging theme on the first evening of the Democratic convention isn't media bias; it's just shameless sucking up to the players. Come on. George Mitchell and Bob Dole have been out of the spotlight for a while; I can't believe they wouldn't be willing to deal with a lot more just to get face time on TV. And the rest of these people are at least as eager to get an opportunity to get name recognition. This isn't a partisan observation, it's true about politicians across the board.
[7:00] I'm not going to take Glenn Close seriously. The official SC policy on political pronunciamentos by entertainers can be inferred from here.
[7:10] No comments on September 11 survivors, either, but not for the same reasons.
[7:30] Hillary Clinton is speaking. If I was recording this all, I'd sit down with a copy of Praat later and pull out some intonation contours; she prolongs primary stress in some odd places. Since Bill is coming on right afterwards, there won't be any commentary between the two.
[7:40] I can't be the only one who noticed that Bill said, "I'm pleased to share this podium with my senator", not "my wife". Interesting lexical choice.
[7:45] Bill Clinton is giving easily the most engaging speech of the night. It's not hard to see why; the crowd went wild for him in a way they didn't for Gore, Carter, or any of the other speakers so far. Bill Clinton manages to exhort and bang on the podium without sounding shrill or forced. That's not trivial. It'll be interesting to see if the post-speech commentary catches his most remarkable oratorical achievement; have a look at the transcript, at the point where he gets the delegates into a series of call-and-response chants in praise of Kerry: "Send me!". Oddly, I can't find the transcript on any of the network websites, or the official convention site, even thought Hillary's speech is available; is there an embargo on it? (Update: I don't know why it took 2+ hours to go up, but here's the transcript.
[8:00] Dan Rather is speaking over Patti LaBelle, but just promising more coverage. Over on Fox News, Fred Barnes is praising the brilliance of Clinton's speech in contrast to everything that came before this evening, and cracking wise about it being "the shortest speech I've ever heard him give". Mort Kondracke says that the Democrats have done quite well to take advantage of Bush's 2000 campaign line "a uniter, not a divider". NPR's Mara Liasson is similarly praising Clinton's speech; the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol is impressed by Clinton's comments emphasizing that the Democrats are a "party of strength". Right now, it's a little hard to detect the outrageous right-wing bias that supposedly characterizes Fox News.
[8:08] Tom Vilsack is getting grilled on MSNBC about the story circulating about his wife, who reportedly made some rather intolerant comments about the language skills of blacks and Southerners. Vilsack is brushing it off as "politics of personal destruction" rhetoric, and denying that the story is in context, but the reporter isn't letting up on him; does he think the story cost him the VP slot on the Democratic ticket? Outside of Keith Olbermann, the MSNBC crowd has been pretty much serious and fair-minded.
[8:13] I spoke too soon about MSNBC. Tom Brokaw and Jon Stewart are gushing about how wonderful Clinton's speech was. Now, your host agrees that it was effective, but this is a bit much from Brokaw, who's supposed to be "objective"; Stewart gets a pass as a comedian, I suppose, but he's not being very funny. Tim Russert reports that Al Gore had to cut a joke out of his speech, an old chestnut about a drunk looking under a streetlight for his keys. The punchline is "because that's where the light is". Ugh. Stewart seems to have noticed how lamely partisan he's been, and just tried to make up for it with something ridiculous about Jimmy Carter running around knocking houses down so he can make a show of putting them up. Why is the Daily Show so popular?
[8:17] Aaron Brown's floor reporter, Kelly Wallace, is either not up on the current polls, or has an axe to grind. She just said that the trend in opinion polling on Iraq shows that more people believe that it's going badly than before; the latest ABC/Washington Post poll shows a big trend in Bush's direction in that regard. Maybe CNN has different numbers. Oops, they don't.
[8:25] Back to Fox News. Carl Cameron, reporting from the floor for Greta Van Susteren, comments that "whether you're a partisan Republican or a Democrat, you can't deny that Clinton gave an electrifying speech. Major Garrett, another floor reporter, just made a point of replaying the "send me" line and commenting on its rhetorical brilliance.
[8:40] That's enough for now. More tomorrow, although my schedule may preclude live blogging of the commentary.
[Edited on 7/26/04 at 10:33 p.m. to add link)