We have now reached the end of day two of the eight days of the 2008 Democratic and Republican conventions as I write-the Democrats reserved the Pepsi Centre in Denver for the first four and the Republicans the Xcel Energy Centre in St Paul, Minnesota, for the remaining four that begin on 1 September-and so far the roof has not fallen in over either party. Hillary Clinton was all kissy-kissy and exuding pro-Obama fire and brimstone when she spoke on Tuesday night, as I knew she would be: she has no intention of jeopardising her career as US senator for New York, or the good chance she believes she still has, should Barack Obama lose in November, of securing the Democratic presidential nomination in 2012.
It could be that, by the time you read this, her husband will have launched a kamikaze attack on Obama in his speech on Wednesday night--or Republican prayers might have been answered and a tornado will have struck the huge open-air football stadium that he immodestly chose to deliver his acceptance address the following evening (just as JFK did when he gave his acceptance speech from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum rather than the convention venue next door--geddit?).
But I doubt it very much. American political conventions become interesting only if things go wrong and fights break out; the Democrats' first two days were hardly organised like clockwork and sometimes deteriorated into a shambles, but that was merely business as usual. To sit through a day of one of these conventions is stupefyingly boring: although television coverage gives the reverse impression, almost none of the thousands on the convention floors listen to a word spoken by perhaps 95 per cent of the speakers, who nonetheless plough through their big moment as though the world were on tenterhooks.
For the remaining 5 per cent or so of speakers, it is the precise opposite. Each night at least one over-rehearsed, overprepared, over-coiffed and over-choreographed man or woman will dominate the proceedings with an autocued speech to which everyone (including a coast-to-coast television audience of 20 million) listens intently. Michelle Obama played that role competently on the Democrats' first night--but her performance suffered from the artificiality engendered by overpreparation (I wish the Obamas would stop using their daughters as props who supposedly spontaneously shout cute things to their mum and dad--fully miked and right on cue).
Meanwhile, the newly appointed Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Joe Biden, "choked up" when he spoke to delegates from his home state of Delaware--choking up being obligatory for all American politicians when the appropriate chance arises. …