Democratic National Convention Night 2: Winners and Losers

September 5, 2012

CHARLOTTE -- The second night of the Democratic National Convention was decidedly slower than its first -- with the obvious exception of the speech by former President Bill Clinton.


Video | Highlights from the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

But, the Fix persevered through this slowness -- we are nothing if not persistent -- to jot down a few of the best and worst performances of the night. Our winners and losers are below. Have some of your own?  Offer them in the comments section.

WINNERS

* Bill Clinton: You don't have to agree with the policies of the former president to appreciate that tonight you were watching a master at work.  (The Fix isn't a LeBron James fan but when you watch that dude play basketball, you are watching something very, very special.) From the moment he walked onstage to, naturally, "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow", Clinton had the crowd in the palm of his hand. But, rather than throw partisan bombs and red meat, Clinton went in a different direction -- touting the importance of reaching across the partisan aisle and defending the nobleness of politics as a profession. He was the explainer-in-chief without seeming too preachy. He was full of Southern aphorisms without being hokey.  And, perhaps most importantly of all, Clinton was quite clearly having a very good time -- and he let it show. He adlibbed. He played with the crowd. He smiled and laughed. And, yes, he went on a little too long.  But, if you are a student of campaign politics -- like we are -- what you watched tonight was the work of someone with massive natural ability in the political arena. Read Clinton's remarks.

* Bill Clinton: I mean, seriously.

* Sister Simone: One of the members of the "Nuns on the Bus" -- nuns traveling the country to oppose the budget plan proposed by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan -- got a raucously positive reception from the crowd and turned into one of the more unlikely stars of the night.

Elizabeth Warren: We struggled with where to fit the Massachusetts Democratic Senate nominee in our winners and losers post. There is little question that the crowd in the convention hall loved every word she spoke. Why? Because Warren's speech was larded with the sort of populist calls to action that the liberal base of the Democratic party so badly wants from its party leadership; "People feel like the system is rigged against them," she said at one point to huge applause. The reaction to Warren in the room made clear that if she winds up in the Senate in 2013, she will immediately become part of the 2016 Democratic presidential conversation. But, the heat with which Warren delivered her speech made us wonder that it might not make it slightly harder for her to get to the Senate this fall.  Do conservative Democrats and independents in Massachusetts react to that sort of tenor and tone? Still, Warren owned the room in a way no one before her on the podium had done. Watch video of the speech.

* Fact Checkers: Have fact checkers ever played such a prominent role in a presidential campaign?  It's a boom time to be in the fact-checking business.

* Football: Let's be honest -- more people watched the Giants-Cowboys kickoff the NFL season than watched the Democratic National Convention.  Football remains king in this country.

LOSERS

* Kamala Harris: There are few politicians who came into the Democratic convention with more positive buzz around them than the California Attorney General. Harris is seen as a potential governor of California and, possibly, a candidate with national prospects. But, tonight her delivery was low-key and the crowd seemed unsure of when to clap even during her most obvious applause lines.  Was Harris hurt by high expectations? Maybe. But she well underperformed what was expected.

* The 9-10 pm hour: This hour, which should have been building to the Warren and Clinton speeches, was entirely forgettable -- filled with overly long speeches by the president of the United Auto Workers and people negatively affected by Bain Capital.  Given the prominence of the hour, the content contained within it was decidedly disappointing.

* The Roll Call: One of our favorite parts of both party conventions is the roll call -- that unique time when each of the 50 states gets to brag on itself before casting its delegate votes for the party's nominee. Because of the way the convention night was structured, the  roll call started -- yes, started -- after 11:30 pm.  Speaking of which...

Earlybirds: The Fix -- as regular readers know -- needs his beauty sleep.  Clinton's speech didn't end until nearly 25 minutes after 11 pm on the East Coast. And this is a Wednesday night!  Come on!

Read more from PostPolitics

Bill Clinton's DNC speech, sliced and diced

Bill Clinton offers a forceful defense of Obama's record

The Fix: Bill Clinton, the smiling assassin

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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Chris Cillizza · September 5, 2012