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Biden's Speech Was Pretty Standard And Uninspiring

At 8:18 p.m. MDT, by my watch, the Democratic National Convention nominated Joseph R. Biden Jr. as its vice presidential candidate. Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Biden had accepted the nomination, had been asked to give an acceptance speech, and had agreed to do so: an observation of the formal rules of the convention, which are based on the rules of the House of Representatives, which I am told are the most complex parliamentary rules in the world.

The best part of the Biden appearance was the family stuff. Beau Biden's introduction of his father was moving, as he told the story how after his father's first wife and daughter were killed in an auto accident, he initially wanted not to take the Senate seat he had just been elected to, and then decided to return home to Delaware on Amtrak every day he went to the Senate. The story is genuine and moving. So was the first page of Biden's speech, about his family. Back when he was preparing to run for president in 1986, I spent a day with him in Wilmington, met his mother and father, saw the big house Biden had bought with his sister and her husband and in which they raised their children, and the daughter Biden had with his second wife, Jill.

Then, as far as I'm concerned, his speech moved from the heights. There followed a description of Barack Obama's record in Illinois that can be characterized as puffery. Then, after a heartfelt declaration of friendship, he attacked John McCain's economic policies and argued, in the audience's chants, "that's not change." And then a series of proposals, with the audience chanting, "That's the change we need." Pretty standard partisan stuff.

A mention of Georgia, for which we will hold Russia accountable (he doesn't say how). A cherry-picking account of who was right and who was wrong on major foreign policy decisions, one that ignored the Iraq war authorization, which Biden supported and Obama, as state senator from a district a majority of whose voters were black and whose whites were very left-wing, opposed. Biden's vivid personality, likable but often overreaching, came through vividly. Overall, the family background was moving, the partisan stuff uninspiring and as solid as cotton candy.

By Michael Barone