Howard Wolfson, former communications director for Hillary Clinton, has been writing for us from Denver. Here are his thoughts on Michelle Obama's performance last night (cross-posted at his blog, Gotham Acme).
The job of First Lady has no set job description and no formal responsibilities. That fact hasn't stopped the GOP from attacking our candidates for First Lady--beginning with Hillary Clinton in 1992 and then Teresa Heinz Kerry in 2004.
That playbook was dusted off earlier this year when the criticisms of Michelle Obama began. Republicans knew all too well that if they could cast Michelle Obama as unpatriotic and elitist they would have scored big against her husband. Last night's speech was, in part, an effort to counter those attacks--and it succeeded brilliantly:
Michelle Obama successfully rooted herself as the daughter of a hard working middle class family. This will help reassure those blue-collar holdouts that the Obamas understand their lives and struggles. She informed voters that she and Senator Obama have lived the American Dream and made explicitly clear that she loves our country. This admission was critically important in countering the charge that she is unpatriotic.
Finally, she and her wonderful daughters helped bring Senator Obama down to size in the best possible way. Through her eyes we saw, not a rock star, but a loving father and husband, peering anxiously in the rear view mirror as he drove his new born baby home for the first time.
Last night was not a night for policy or attacks on John McCain. It was instead an effort to shore up the image of Michelle Obama and help Americans become comfortable with her as First Lady. It was a homerun.