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First, it appears my “lack of enthusiasm” for Hillary’s big speech (transcript) Tuesday night ruffled a few feathers. I found Hillary’s speech to be full of more references to herself than Barack Obama. And while she “endorsed” him and “supports” him, you could have replaced Obama’s name with anyone and not needed to change a single word of her speech. While everyone else seems to have “loved” her speech and says she “said what needed to be said” and “couldn’t have done better”, I heard the speech of someone “leaving the door open for 2012”. Here are some examples of the praise I saw/heard that seem to make my point (emphasis mine):

She knocked it out of the park! After hearing that speech, I’ll bet some people are having buyer’s remorse!” – Radio host Ed Schultz
She excited the crowd, she made me excited about her.” – Commenter replying to me on Democratic Underground.

After the speech, the blogs were abuzz about Hillary and how well Hillary did. I challenged people to cite a single example where she talked up Obama’s strengths or how he was the “right man for the job”. Not one person could give me an answer. Speaking at the convention isn’t supposed to be all about the person speaking, it supposed to be about the candidate. Am I wrong?

But that was Tuesday.

Last night, “Big Dawg” showed her how it’s done. The pundits pontificated over how Former President Clinton would be received by delegates on the convention floor. They were concerned that there might be some residual “bad blood” from the campaign where he criticized Barack Obama. But instead, he was greeted by a three minute standing ovation where he had to say “Please, sit down” so many times, he became visibly annoyed as the crowd went on cheering so long it was preventing him from speaking.

Unlike his wife’s speech the night before, President Clinton’s speech was wall-to-wall praise of Barack Obama, filled with references to Obama’s life and achievements. Contrast this to Hillary’s speech the night before where she spoke mostly about herself. Hey, don’t get me wrong, Hillary gave a great speech, attacking the Republicans and John McCain, stressing all the reasons to “vote Democrat” and what a mistake it would be for her supporters to vote for John McCain, but in this reporters opinion, if you were a Hillary-loyalist threatening to “write-in” Hillary’s name on your ballot vs casting your vote for Obama, she gave you little reason not to.

By contrast, Bill talked about how Barack, after graduation, “could have done anything” (no doubt. As a black graduate from Harvard Law and the first black editor of the “Harvard Law Review”, he could of written his own ticket) “and made millions on Wall Street”, instead he took a job in Public Service on the South Side of Chicago to “give back to the community”. And most importantly of all, President Clinton talked about how when he first ran for President in 1992, people told him he was “too young and too inexperienced. Sound familiar?” And what must be a first for Bill, his speech was less than 30 minutes long! I remember his 1988 Convention speech that went on for 70 minutes… longer than even the Presidential nominee, Mike Dukakis’ own speech. Bill’s biggest applause line in 1988: “And in conclusion…” He seems to have learned a valuable lesson in the twenty years hence: “Brevity is the soul of wit”.

As a former President, Bill was careful to avoid direct criticism of President Bush (Presidents just don’t attack other Presidents. It’s just not done), but former Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry had no such compunction. I was never a huge Kerry fan (full disclosure, I was a “Deaniac”), but Kerry laid into George Bush like no one else thus far in this convention. And he didn’t stop there. He also referenced Senator McCain’s penchant for flip-flopping… a charge the Republicans dogged Kerry with mercilessly during his 2004 campaign.

In a segment of his speech… “Senator McCain vs Candidate McCain”… Kerry pointed out several examples of Candidate McCain opposing Senator McCain’s own bills!Talk about ‘Being for it before you were against it!’ Come on!

The night was opened with a surprisingly good speech by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who blasted the Republicans for increasing our dependence on foreign oil. He even went after Bush & Cheney, noting how we had “two oilmen in the White House”. He blasted McCain for taking millions in campaign contributions from oil lobbyists and his plan to give huge tax breaks to the oil companies while continuing our dependence on fossil fuels.

Being “National Security” Night, we *finally* saw our first veterans of the convention, with special emphasis on women in the military, with speeches by at least two retired female “three-star generals”, who talked about how Barack Obama’s judgement in Iraq is exactly what is needed right now.

So, with one great speech after another, I was concerned that every great talking point may have been used up, leaving nothing for VP nominee Joe Biden to talk about. Boy, was I mistaken. Bill Clinton is a tough act to follow, but the good Senator from Delaware had the inside track on “his good friends John McCain and Barack Obama” and could talk about each of them on a personal level that no ne else could have. (Video: part1, part2, part3). Wednesday night was a great night to be a Democrat, and I fully expect Thursday to be even better.

Oh, which reminds me, following up on yesterday’s note of the Religious Wingnuts “praying for rain” to ruin Senator Obama’s big acceptance speech in an open-air 70,000 seat football stadium. The weather report for the “Invesco Field” zip code still reads “Sunny” with temperatures in the mid 70’s.

Meanwhile, concerns have arisen over the possibility that “Tropical Storm Gustav“… which will likely be a full hurricane before making landfall in the Gulf of Mexico this Saturday… threatens to disrupt the weather the night of John McCain’s big speech at the RNC Convention next week in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Pardon me while I laugh my ass off.