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John Edwards (live blogging)

John Edwards – The forgotten Osmond Brother – knows how to build applause by waiting it out. And he knows how to accept applause while looking embarrassed at it.

He opens with sentences that serve the purpose of pumping in the key phrases: volunteers, respect others, valor, what he’s made of. It’s how you make the character argument.

Trying to set the terms of the rest of the campaign, reject negativity. Great if it works. Doubt it.

Trying to beat the Big Lawyer rap.

And into the Two Americas, a narrative central to populism that we’ve forgotten. Of course, it requires Americans to vote for the sake of others – the way it ought to be, but necessarily a tougher sell than “Tax breaks just return your money to you.”

“What’s the first thing that goes? Your dreams.” Not much applause, but I thought it was affecting.

Some specifics about tuition tax breaks. Excellent! I’ve been hungry for a few damn details.

“Moral responsibility” for eliminating poverty. Yes! We need to have this discussion elevated to the moral plane. And he goes after minimum wage. I wish he’d said how much working fulltime for minimum wage amounts to – around $11,000 a year. “Not in our America.” Damn right.

He is setting the table. Now it’s bringing race into the discussion. This is just what he should be doing: define the terms of the campaign, and leave plenty of room for Kerry to plop the main courses onto the plates he’s set out. (Hmm, if I worked on it, I could probably come up with a worse analogy.)

Terrorism: Well, this one’s already on the menu. I hope Kerry does the Clinton thing of listing 40 things he’s going to do to make us safer, steps Bush has not taken. “I’m strong, we’re strong, and together we’ll be strong” is not doing it for me.

Appreciating our soldiers: The Democrats make a believable support-the-military party, IMO.

Details about how we can be safer. Why the hell aren’t we doing this stuff already? I like details.

He’s telling us about a hypothetical mother. This sort of stuff loses me. It goes all sentimental. I can’t tell if it works. It just makes me wince.

We don’t have to fight alone. Yes.

Hope is on the way. I always like a good call and response. Plus, I do believe and have believed that this year it’s all about the hope. Hope vs. fear.

We choose hope over despair. Damn. I want him to hang W with fear, not despair.

There’s been a lot of talk at this convention about “one America.” Unusual rhetoric f or a party in an America more divided than any time since the Vietnam war.

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