After watching coverage of the Democratic National Convention tonight, it appears the Democrats are off to a good start. The theme, Stronger at Home, Respected in the World, is clearly evident, but I think the main strategy at least for tonight took a page from the FBI training manual.
When a new FBI agent is hired they are given intensive training. As part of the program, the agent is taught to watch for counterfeit money. The agent makes a thorough study of the genuine bills -- not the phonies -- so that they can spot the fake currency immediately because of its contrast to the real thing.
I think President Carter, Rev. David Alston (the gunner on Kerry's swift boat), Senator Hillary Clinton and President Clinton all learned this lesson well and their speeches reflected it. Each of them did an excellent job of highlighting John Kerry's record of bravery, courage and willingness to serve. I don't recall many direct attacks on Bush. Instead the contrast between the genuine, real deal in John Kerry and the counterfeit leadership of the current administration was obvious.
I especially enjoyed Clinton's comment that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and he himself avoided service in Vietnam, but John Kerry said "Send me."
I doubt most observers would have expected Clinton, who battled questions about his military service throughout his campaigns and Presidency, to speak about Bush's military service, but he handled it masterfully by bringing all of his own baggage on the subject and laying it not only at his own feet, but also Bush and Cheney.
Other favorite quotes that will likely be remembered:
"You can't be a war president one day and claim to be a peace president the next, depending on the latest political polls."
"Strength and wisdom are not opposing values."