In politics, nothing says you're the future more than getting a coveted prime time speaking slot at a national convention. Except when it doesn't. Keep that in mind as the two parties fill those slots for the upcoming conventions in Tampa and Charlotte. It can get pretty confusing.
The message convention organizers want to send is that this is not your father's -- or mother's -- Republican Party. They still remember -- can't forget -- the disastrous 1992 GOP convention in Houston when Patrick Buchanan's "culture war" speech pushed Ronald Reagan's final convention speech out of prime time. Intolerance was the message of Houston and all but forgotten was the need to build a coalition behind President George H.W. Bush. What won't be forgotten in Tampa is the need to elect this year's nominee, Mitt Romney. Speakers like Rubio, Fallin, Haley and Martinez can help there while presenting a more diverse party. And, with former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush as well as former Vice President Dick Cheney not speaking, the party can spend less time dealing with a past that included that economic meltdown in 2008.
For the Democrats, a little reminder of the past is very much on the agenda. Former President Jimmy Carter will be just a video. But former President Bill Clinton will have a prime time role introducing President Obama and reminding the electorate of the economic good times and the budget surplus the country enjoyed when he left office.