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EARLYBIRD

Pundits & Editorials

Democrats are grasping for a single convention theme, but David Brooks says they're better off without one. Plus: what Clinton's speech needs to accomplish.

• "People" in Denver "complain that the polls are too close for comfort, forgetting that there is rarely anything comfortable about a presidential contest," Eugene Robinson argues. "When was the last time a non-incumbent Democrat cruised to the White House?"

Barack Obama "is already an elusive Rorschach test candidate, and now he's being pulled by his party in a thousand directions. The Democrats are in danger of doing to Obama what they did to their last two nominees: burying authentic individuals under a layer of prefab themes," David Brooks warns.

 

Michael Barone wonders "whether mainstream media have any appetite for undermining" the "undeniably attractive narrative" the convention is meant to craft around Obama.

• "The question as" Hillary Rodham Clinton "strides onto the podium tonight is whether she will decide to lead her supporters or choose to enable those diehards by instead following them," Charlie Cook previews.

• "Remember the Obama-Clinton 'Dream Ticket'? That dream is over, and the Democratic Party has to pull together anyway. Will Obama's choice of" Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden "make that easier or harder?" William Schneider asks.

 

• "One can only hope that the perpetual motion machine that is Biden's mouth will, like a million monkeys banging on typewriters, eventually stumble on a plausible explanation for why Obama picked Biden, of all people," Jonah Goldberg quips.

• But Scott Lehigh understands Biden's appeal: "The biggest thing Biden brings is foreign-policy experience and respect among serious people not just in Washington but in capitals around the globe."

William McGurn asserts that even though pro-life Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) will address the convention tonight, the Democratic Party's position on abortion has remained the same. "Yet when it comes to explaining this position and defending this record, Barack Obama's eloquence seems to abandon him."

• "After many years of watching black candidates run for public office," Bob Herbert has a "(very arbitrary) rule of thumb regarding the polls in this election: Take at least two to three points off of" Obama's "poll numbers, and assume a substantial edge for" John McCain "in the breakdown of the undecided vote. Using that formula," Obama "is behind in the national election right now."

 

David Yepsen is nervous that Iowa could lose its first-in-the-nation caucus status in 2012. "Iowa party leaders will have to be vigilant. They've been asleep at the switch when it comes to making changes that would improve their own caucus processes."

Bret Stephens sees parallels between the Kremlin's perceived strength in the 1970's and today. "But the Soviet Union wasn't invincible" then, he points out. "And here's a crazy thought: The same laws of social, economic and geopolitical gravity that applied in Brezhnev's U.S.S.R. apply equally in Mr. Putin's KGB state."

Anne Applebaum is relieved that "there isn't the slightest chance that the London Olympics will resemble the Beijing Olympics, not in choreography, not in pyrotechnics, not in quantities of identically dressed, super-coordinated dancers -- and not in suppression of political dissidents either."

From the Editorial Boards...

• "Mrs. Clinton will not be nominated this week, and we know that is a great disappointment to her many supporters," the New York Times acknowledges. "But she has a long political future ahead of her, most immediately as the junior senator from New York, and a responsibility to her party to concede defeat gracefully and rearm for another good fight."

• "If perchance" Clinton "watched that Serbian Olympics swimmer lose to golden boy Michael Phelps by a margin almost too small to measure, you can guess what she was thinking," the Wall Street Journal muses. "Though it's been weeks since the political touch pads declared" Obama "the official winner, surely the Senator Clinton who addresses the Denver convention tonight still cannot believe this has happened."

• "Mr. Obama began to lose support when it became clear that he was not the 'new kind of politician' he has been touting. His glaring flip-flops have led voters to question his sincerity and his competence. He has appeared weak and unsure of himself in addressing a number of key issues," the Washington Times concludes.

• "The Rocky Mountain West -- reliably Republican in presidential politics during the Reagan era -- is now a battleground. And we love it," the Denver Post cheers. "Now empowered as swing voters, we can demand attention from the federal government for our special needs."

USA Today observes that "much of the progress in New Orleans these past three years has come in spite of government..... Hurricane Katrina can still be a catalyst for change, but only if government at all levels emulates New Orleans' schools and the innovative residents of this irreplaceable city."

• The Washington Post believes that one of Russia's "central objectives" in invading Georgia is "to depose Georgia's president and destroy Georgia's fragile democracy. The United States and its allies can still prevent that from happening, if they act quickly and energetically -- and thereby inflict an endgame defeat on" Vladimir Putin.

• "In the end, China got precisely what it paid more than $41 billion for," the Los Angeles Times concedes. "Yet what planners in Beijing miscalculated is that no matter how well you teach performers to smile, the strain behind the lips is still detectable."

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