Watch the Democratic National Convention live on this page now.
Highlights of tonight’s schedule:
9:00 PM EDT hour
Chris Van Hollen
10:00 PM EDT hour
Former President Bill Clinton
Roll call vote to nominate President Barack Obama
Former President Bill Clinton — the man who left this country with what the Onion called “our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity” — will be headlining the Democratic National Convention. He will be introduced by the woman who predicted the financial crisis, came up with the idea for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and is now challenging Scott Brown (R-MA) for his seat in the senate — Elizabeth Warren.
No one in politics has a higher approval rating than President Clinton and no one has more credibility with the Democratic party’s activist base than Elizabeth Warren. Here’s a breakdown of the schedule so you can prepare.
Check back here today for updates and commentary once the convention begins.
7:29 PM EDT
The convention opened today with a controversy over the platform that saw the president intervene over issues of faith and Israel’s capitol. The drama was contentious and short-lived. It will probably be as notable as the brief scuffle between the grassroots and the Republican establishment over rules at their convention last week.
Again a Democrat in the first hour gave a speech that roused the crowd to an energy that was not seen at the Republican National Convention. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) gave a rousing invocation in praise of the diversity of the Democratic Party.
The buzz of the convention continues to revolve around President Bill Clinton who reportedly is still writing his speech. Republicans would love to imagine a rift between Clinton and President Obama. If that were true, it’s unlikely Clinton would again be staking his reputation to elect Obama. The simple fact that President Clinton is the keynote speaker is a tribute to his success. If President George W. Bush’s policies — nearly of which Romney embraces — worked, Bush would have been the keynote at last week’s RNC, not a footnote.
8:53 PM EDT
My favorite speech of the convention thus far was just given by Sister Simone Campbell, one of the Nuns on the Bus. As one of several speakers tonight assailing Paul Ryan’s budget, she connected faith to policy. She also disputed Ryan’s claim that his budget reflects Catholic values. She also called for the expansion of Medicare, a crucial aspect of ObamaCare that rarely gets mentions.
James Carville called for the Nuns on the Bus to make an appearance at the DNC, and the crowd agreed with this choice.
9:51 PM EDT
Former Bain employees made up the meat of the nine o’clock hour. Picking up on a threat that the President’s campaign and sympathetic Super PACs have been making for months. Bain may have made a lot of money for Mitt Romney but it did not create good jobs. In fact, often Bain turned middle class jobs into jobs for the working poor — without benefits or retirement.
Apparently Sandra Fluke was bumped from tonight’s agenda along with Barney Frank. The proceedings are running late this evening. Timing is essential, especially because President Obama is in the building to hear President Clinton speak.
Getting Obama and Clinton on stage together before 11:00 eastern is essential. This is the image that will be on newspapers across the country tomorrow. The only image better than Presidents Obama and Clinton standing on stage together would be if George W. Bush were there for them to shake their heads at.
10:04 PM EDT
Sandra Fluke makes primetime. In a schedule switch, the woman who became famous after enduring verbal abuse by Rush Limbaugh. She describes a president who when a woman is verbally attacked “thinks of his daughters, not his donors or his delegates.”
She is a natural in an incredibly challenging situation — serious and sincere in a way that’s entirely relatable way.
What is it about this cool, capable woman that drives Republicans insane? Is it a fear she might actually explain how a woman’s body works?
11:29 PM EDT
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was rousing. In a brief slot, she summed up why she’s become a liberal icon. Her grit and determination to face down what ails the middle class is obvious, as is her passion for fixing out a system where corruption is permissible. She trails slightly in her race against Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) and gave herself a boost with a speech that was not toned down at all for the occasion.
As good as Warren’s performance is, it quickly disappeared into the wake of former President Bill Clinton.
Here are some excerpts:
“In Tampa the Republican argument against the President’s re-election was pretty simple: We left him a total mess, he hasn’t finished cleaning it up yet, so fire him and put us back in.
“I like the argument for President Obama’s re-election a lot better. He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a more modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators.
“The most important question is, what kind of country do you want to live in? If you want a you’re-on-your-own, winner-take-all society, you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility — a we’re-all-in-this-together society — you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”
Bill Clinton didn’t give a speech. It was a Matrix-like upload of everything Democrats have been trying to say for months.
In the days leading up tonight’s event, the press has been trying to craft a conflict between the two presidents. They imagined what Clinton would talk about and what he wouldn’t. And the answer to it all was, YES. He talked about every domestic issue that looms over this election.
From the mess President Obama inherited to the cold reality: “No president could clean this up in one term.” President Clinton’s speech was the most wide-ranging yet granular speech given this election season. He spoke of his passion for cooperation and respect for Republicans. Our Henry Decker points out that thanks to Bill Clinton, George W. Bush got more applause at the Democratic Convention than he did at the Republican convention.
But the key role Clinton played was as an arbiter of truth. He told the story of ObamaCare the way every Democrat has wanted to. He told the origin of the debt the way every Democrat has wanted to. He debunked the lies about Medicare and Welfare Reform the way every Democrat has wanted to. He even went into the voter suppression that indicts the Republicans true fear of democracy.
But he did it all in his plain-spoken, objective-sounding tone that seems beyond politics — a voice of the American Dream itself, to be a bit hyperbolic.
If President Obama is reelected — and the chances of this are much greater now than before this speech — President Clinton will have done more to influence this election than any donor ever could. The Democrats may not have the Koch brothers writing checks for hundred of millions of dollars. But they have Bill Clinton. And for now, that’s more valuable.
PS: The line of the night came when the former president described Paul Ryan attacking President Obama for taking the exact same savings from Medicare that Ryan did: “It takes some brass to accuse someone of doing something you did.”
Copyright 2012 The National Memo