So which convention was better? I have been asked this question several times after my return from Denver and St Paul, the cities that hosted the Democratic and Republican national conventions over the last two weeks. I take the Fifth (Amendment to the US Constitution, which gives you the right to refuse to answer a question on the grounds that the answer could be used against you).
Both jamborees had their moments.
In the Mile-High City, you got to watch Michelle Obama retell her husband’s life story to make the point that despite his funny name, it was an American story.
The next day former President Bill Clinton endorsed Barack Obama, the man who defeated his wife, with a speech only he could have made, which had big words that for some reason didn’t sound big. And, of course, there was Obama’s acceptance speech before a cheering, dancing crowd of 85,000 at Invesco Field, which gave the Democrats a real high.
In St Paul, you saw Palin power at work. The Alaska Governor — “Sarah who?” to much of America till that week — wowed the convention and millions watching on television with her debut speech.
OK, the speech was crafted by former Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully, who started working on it before John McCain had settled on Palin as his running mate.
But then many politicians use speechwriters nowadays. And she didn’t flub. In fact, she ad-libbed. “Do you know what they say is the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?” she said. “Lipstick.”
Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination, had prepared the crowd for Palin with a strong attack on Obama. It was a surprisingly good performance by Giuliani, never known for his oratory.
While Palin entered the history books as the first woman vice-presidential candidate of the Republican Party, another woman had to give up her quest and, swallowing her hurt, pledge to help her opponent make history.
Hillary Clinton had been accused of not knowing when to give up.
But to her credit, she finally did it in style. “I am honored to be here tonight,” she said. “A proud mother. A proud Democrat. A proud American. And a proud supporter of Barack Obama.”Unbeatable in defeat.