It’s time to hand out our quadrennial Kraskini national convention honors. (The awards banquet is Tuesday night in Los Angeles, broadcast live on CNN.)
Poll numbers are, after all, the primary product of these gatherings. Republicans, predictably, grabbed a point or two. In this even-steven year, Democrats will, too. The Obamas were too good. So was the long-winded Bill Clinton.
The result? The race remains a margin-of-error affair.
So many smart people concoct these conventions. Speeches are poll-tested to death. Political parties can’t help but gain.
Let’s call it a tie between first lady Michelle Obama and Ann Romney. Both achieved their primary objective of connecting voters with their husbands. Romney scored with recollections of raising five boys. Obama’s speech soared with her flawless delivery. Now who’s the best orator in that family?
Condi Rice and Marco Rubio for the Republicans, who placed badly needed gender and Hispanic stamps on the GOP confab. (Don’t get too excited, though. Rice won’t ever be a GOP presidential nominee. She’s pro-choice.)
For the Democrats, Clinton who, miraculously, focused on Barack Obama instead of himself. (Note that, Gov. Chris Christie.)
“Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago.” — Sen. John Kerry, who offered more pithy zingers than any convention speaker.
The overemphasis award:
Democrats zeroed in, ad nauseam, on social issues: contraception, abortion rights, gay marriage. Republicans talked small business as if every American had one.
Lost in the shuffle:
The truth. Lots of misstatements by both parties. So many, in fact, that you wonder if the pols even care anymore. They must figure their partisans don’t go to news sources that chronicle their fabrications.
The two vice presidential nominees. Joe Biden was way off in his remarks on what Mitt Romney wants to do to Medicare and GOP plans for raising taxes on the middle class. And Paul Ryan, billed as a new-generation pol who does things a new way, disappointed with a string of bogus lines on Medicare, the stimulus, the Wisconsin auto plant and the Simpson-Bowles commission. It was wince-inducing.
Hurricane Isaac. Honorable mention: Scarlett Johansson.
Al Gore and Hillary Clinton for the Democrats. (Would Bill Clinton have been quite so enthusiastic for Obama if he wasn’t at least leaving the door open for his wife in 2016?) George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for the GOP.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback didn’t make it on the stage at a convention where 2016 wannabes continually paraded before the microphones. Rep. Kevin Yoder, fully clothed, showed up late.
Public official who got the rawest deal:
Biden, who spoke outside the network window on the same night Obama gave his acceptance speech. He got buried.
Billy Graham award:
The Rev. Emanuel Cleaver lit it up Wednesday night with his “Hope on!” chant that included a move that will be long remembered — Cleaver marching in place with thousands of delegates joining in.
Most unexpected political move:
Democrats pushing hard to the right to gain the upper hand on national security. Republicans pushing hard to the left to gain the upper hand on Medicare.
Up-and-comers who shined the brightest:
For the Republicans, Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker of public employee union fame and, for all his bluster, Christie. And, of course, Ryan. For the Democrats, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Cuisine report: Carolina barbecue is pretty dang good. Who knew? Tampa seafood is also delicious. Thanks, boss.