1. Michelle Obama: It came on the first night of the convention, but the first lady's speech held the championship belt against all comers for the next three days. Her personal reflection on what it's been like to raise two African American girls in the White House was stirring. Her explanation of what it would mean to her and her two girls to see a woman as the Democratic presidential nominee and possibly the next president was emotional. She stood out among the best and brightest politicians within the Democratic Party as the single best and the one who shone the brightest. The only question now is what the outgoing first lady wants to do next. And is it in elected office or outside it?
2. Vice President Biden: This was a tour de force. The vice president clearly grasped that this was a swan song for him on the national stage and, man, did he go out with a bang. Biden's recollection of the loss and sadness he has endured in his life led seamlessly into an argument against the dark vision of America espoused by Donald Trump and in favor of the hell-yeah-this-is-America sensibility that has been the defining trait of Biden's political life.
3. Khizr Khan: The father of a Muslim soldier killed in a suicide bombing in Iraq in 2004 provided the most memorable moment of either convention when he asked whether Trump had ever read the Constitution and then held up his own copy, telling Trump he could borrow it.
It was a remarkable moment — made all the more so because no one saw it coming.
4. President Obama: I was less bowled over than some commentators by the president's speech. But it was still a top-five speech because, well, we are dealing with one of the most naturally gifted orators in modern political history. Obama knows how to do this. His address functioned as a passing of the torch to Clinton, and he did it deftly and gracefully. Obama also used the speech to rattle off his accomplishments in office and to offer his own optimistic vision of the country. "While this nation has been tested by war and it's been tested by recession and all manner of challenges, I stand before you again tonight, after almost two terms as your president, to tell you I am even more optimistic about the future of America than ever before," Obama told the crowd. To my mind, this speech wasn't in the storied ranks of Selma or Charleston for Obama, but that doesn't mean it was bad. It wasn't. It was very good.
5. The Clintons: Okay, I am cheating a bit by putting both Clintons here. But I think both of their speeches succeeded in a very similar way: They didn't soar rhetorically, but each did what it needed to. For Bill, that was a speech focused not on him but squarely on his wife, a change for someone who has spent decades talking about himself. The perspective he brought — Hillary Clinton as opposed to "Hillary Clinton" — was invaluable, and something only he could do. For Hillary, her speech was who she is: Workmanlike, policy-focused and tough. She didn't try to reach for great rhetorical heights, choosing instead to stay close to the ground — casting herself as an experienced fighter for the country who will never give up. Neither speech is likely to be one we are talking about at the next convention, but both were victories in their own way.