Day one of the Democratic National Convention was a tale of two events. Throughout the early evening session — prior to the major primetime hour — the proceedings featured angry attacks on Mitt Romney and Republicans, an unshakeable fixation on trivial, minor issues (other than jobs and the economy), and a disquieting, heavy emphasis on abortion and divisive social issues. Especially unpleasant were the patriotism-questioning shout-fest from former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (“If Mitt Romney were Santa, he’d fire the Reindeer and outsource the elves!”) and the pro-abortion screed from the president of NARAL, a hardcore pro-abortion organization. Rare highlights included a strong speech from wounded warrior Tammy Duckworth, who is running for Congress in Illinois, and an energetic performance from Newark Mayor Cory Booker. In primetime, Democrats shelved most — though not all — of the bitter edginess and Left-wing social issues bravado. For what it’s worth, here are my quick-take grades for the main speakers:
Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland: D. For a guy who’s rumored to be in the 2016 mix, O’Malley was terrible. His delivery would have won gold in the “trying too hard” speech Olympics, his criticisms of Mitt Romney were as unoriginal and shrill as they were misleading, and he didn’t offer a single memorable line. Stick to budgets in Maryland, governor.