. . . Wednesday July 28, 2004

Commanding a Convention

As I’ve mentioned, unity has been the major theme of this convention. In some ways (and this sort of makes sense when we’re all in the mix of things) though, I haven’t quite been able to identify the key set of messages everyone is unified around – other than they want the Kerry-Edwards ticket to be victorious.

Well, that’s not quite right. There is of course one piece of the message that has been fired over the bow of the Fleet Center crowd over and over. That message, which hit overdrive as John Kerry arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport and stepped immediately into the arms of his swift boat crew with whom he shared a boat ride into town, is that John Kerry has the strength to be the Commander in Chief.

Given historic efforts to paint Dems as soft on defense and the nature of this era, the focus on Kerry’s strength and military experience makes perfect sense. But the spotlight on this issue at the expense of other issues where Kerry/Edwards poll very well is something of a risk.

It will be interesting to watch John Edwards tonight. Will he continue to focus on the military prowess of the man on top of the ticket? Or will he give the speech he gives best (and the one he was selected for) about two Americas and building a better and more fair economy?

I’d rather see him do the latter. I understand the focus of the Party at this moment (and I understand the excitement of finally having the right guy to bury the Republican tactic of tagging Dems as weak), but I’d like to see some of the other key swing state economic issues come into the mix. I’ve talked to a lot of people from Ohio and some other swing states. When I ask them what message they want to hear from speakers in The Fleet Center, they talk about jobs. Edwards is uniquely qualified to tap into this issue.

And besides. When it comes to really selling a candidate’s ability to be the Commander in Chief, that message has to come from the candidate himself.

Concentration is important!