Here’s the hourly schedule. Even by the dreary standards of this convention’s line-up, tonight is especially dreary. Put it this way: From 7 p.m. until 10, arguably the most interesting speaker is … Linc Chafee. Get out your drinking-game bingo cards now because there’s no way you’ll make it through this without them.
Tonight’s strategy: Make sure every core constituency is well-pandered-to right out of the chute. It’s “clientelism” on parade. Somewhere, Jay Cost is smiling:
If there’s a theme to tonight’s speaking lineup here at the first day of the Democratic convention, it’s a nod to all the important voting and demographic blocs of the Obama coalition. Women? You have First Lady Michelle Obama, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Lilly Ledbetter. Latinos? Keynote speaker Julian Castro and Rep. Xavier Becerra. African Americans? The first lady and Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. Why is tonight’s coalition night so important for Democrats? Because they are facing an enthusiasm gap — at least compared to 2008 — with these voting blocs. In the Aug. 2012 NBC/WSJ poll, just 52% of voters under 35 and only 49% of Latinos expressed high interest in the upcoming election, which was down about 20 points for both groups at this same point in ’08. That said, almost all voting segments in the poll — Democrats and Republicans alike — aren’t as interested as they were in 2008. So this is the opportunity that the Democratic convention represents for the Obama camp and Democrats: maybe a final chance to rekindle some of the 2008 magic. If Mitt Romney had to close his likeability gap at last week’s GOP convention, Barack Obama and the Democrats this week have to close the enthusiasm gap.
The most important Democratic constituency gets its pander nice and early when top union crony/SEIU president Mary Kay Henry speaks at some point between 6:15 and 6:45 ET. Nancy Keenan, the president of NARAL, gets a more prominent spot shortly after 8 p.m. to get the “war on women” crapola rolling. I wonder if we’ll hear the phrase “safe, legal, and rare” 20 times this week or if the new base-minded Democratic Party has finally dispensed with that lie once and for all. They really should. Much like economic growth, it’s a relic of the Clinton era. Be who you are, guys.
Amusing footnote: Leader-of-the-future Cory Booker has been relegated to the 6 p.m. hour instead of primetime, presumably because of his famous oopsie about Bain on “Meet the Press.” Normally I’d lament that, but seeing as how he went full jackhole this morning to push the Democrats’ racism messaging against the GOP, I don’t care anymore. Besides, tonight’s designated leader of the future is Julian Castro, who’s going to deliver a 15-minute address on the immigrant experience and becoming a success in America. (If that sounds familiar, it should. Castro is transparently counterprogramming for Rubio, who’s already a national figure and a threat to siphon off some of the Democrats’ Latino base.) If there’s one thing the left needs, it’s another young inexperienced pol with few accomplishments who gets by on soaring rhetoric and charisma. Expect plenty of fawning profiles tomorrow, all hitting the same tired notes.
Booker’s speaking on C-SPAN as I write this, so let’s get the thread up now. If you get bored while watching, here’s Choom Gang alumnus Barack Obama enjoying a little pothead humor while taking a break from cracking down on potheads nationwide. Exit quotation: “Girls, get your abortions NOW in case the Republicans win.”