Okay, let's start with the guns. I lift weights and I gotta tell you, I wish I had arms like Michelle Obama's. Those are some seriously sculpted muscles. It's kind of cool having a First Lady who probably has more upper arm strength than I do (and that's saying a lot).
In terms of speaking skill, Michelle Obama was better than I remember. Clearly, four years of being First Lady has upped her game. She's able to be both personable and strong, self-deprecating and confident.
Her opening wasn't about her, or her husband, their families or their backgrounds (although that would come later). Her opening was about individual Americans and the greatness we see every day, in individual acts of courage, bravery, and just getting through the day.
I liked that a lot. I don't think of America as strong because we have the biggest corporations or the largest banks. I think of America a strong because our citizens have the biggest hearts, the deepest souls, and -- what? They've renewed both Dexter and Glee again?
Oh, sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, Americans also have the shallowest attention spans, so no matter what a politician spews -- and make no mistake, Michelle Obama is as much a pol as Hillary Clinton -- Americans often forget where we were just a few years ago.
Michelle Obama, and the other speakers we've heard from, often talk about President Obama's role in keeping the American auto industry afloat. They talk about the creation of four million new jobs since the President took office.
But they conveniently forget the incredible amount America spent on bailing out banks, sending billions to offshore interests. They conveniently forget that four million new jobs in four years doesn't put America's unemployed ahead. Instead, since we need two million new jobs a year just to handle population growth, four million new jobs simply means we're slipping a little less and a greater percentage of Americans are still without work.
When they talk about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (what the GOP calls "Obamacare"), Michelle Obama and the other convention speakers conveniently forget about the mandate that we all buy into health insurance programs that are still not affordable, run by companies that are still not ethical.
They conveniently forget that the plan runs to so many pages that no American really understands what it all means. Michelle Obama and the other convention speakers also conveniently forget that many of the promises of the PPACA don't actually go into effect for a few years -- if they survive repeal efforts and legislative neutering.
There is no doubt that some of the so-called liberal programs that America provides to its citizens gives Americans a leg up, and helps them where they'd otherwise not be able to achieve. Michelle Obama talked about when she and Barack were "so young, so in love, and so in debt" from student loans. And she talked about the various education programs the Obama administration pushed forward to help students.
But she seemed to have conveniently forgotten that the almost incomprehensible level of debt the United States is now under is a result of the Obama administration's decisions -- and how that debt is also going to be a huge monkey on the back of every member of future generations.
Although the First Lady did not feed raw meat to the attended masses, she is a master of allusion. She succeeded admirably in contrasting her husband with Mr. Romney, both in term of background and in values.
I will say this: Michelle Obama can give a speech. I'm not a fan of the obligatory spousal testimony, but Mrs. Obama's got some serious chops.
One of the speakers I was most looking forward to hearing was Elizabeth Warren. Professor Warren is a candidate for Senate in Massachusetts. She's campaigning for the seat that Scott Brown won after Ted Kennedy died, the same seat that Mitt Romney lost to Ted Kennedy way back in the early 1990s.
That's not what makes her interesting, though. What makes Elizabeth Warren interesting has been her fight for middle class protections.
She's a former Havard Law professor and an expert in bankruptcy. She headed up the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP -- one of the big bailouts that took place in late 2008 and early 2009. More interestingly, she was also the architect -- against incredible opposition -- of the newly formed U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Although her speech clearly had the fingerprints of a professional speech writer, Warren is one of the few politicians that seems to understand the meaning of the middle class.
Let me explain that for a moment. Most politicians talk about the importance of the middle class, and that's normally interpreted as being because there are so many people in it -- it's the single largest constituency.
But Warren understands something my research and analysis has confirmed through computer modeling: the U.S. economy can't survive without a strong middle class.
Best line: "We're Americans. We celebrate success. We just don't want the game to be rigged."
It's that simple, really. If we lose the middle class, our economy dives. If you've ever wondered why China is trying so hard to build up its middle class, it's not because those old communists think it's the right thing to do. No, it's because they understand that the middle class is the engine, the motor, the central processing unit of economic growth.
The middle class is both the single biggest consuming category as well as the single biggest production category in our economy. Let's use a car analogy for a moment. No matter how strong your engine is, if it can't get enough air in, or exhaust that air back out, it won't run. If you have big intake scoops but only a tiny, constricted exhaust line, I don't care how many horseys you have, your engine will stumble and choke.
That's the same with the middle class. We can't just get them to buy, buy, buy and think all will be good with the world. After a while, families will simply run out of cash and run out of credit. To make the engine run, they must also make money, they must be healthy, and they must thrive.
Then it becomes a cycle. Money comes in, money goes out, and economies thrive. That's why we need to create jobs in America. In America. It's the only way we'll be able to keep the engine running.
Anyway, Warren's speech (beyond the obviously coached parts) was one of the few I've seen that reflected that understanding between the middle class and the future of America.
Sure, families that are hurting want to hear they're getting help, but without a strong middle class, even our millionaires and billionaires will eventually find themselves marooned. Sure, they'll have enough money to live well and survive. But the world around them won't be one they'll like, and they won't be able to safely take the family on a road trip in a station wagon across the country (as Mitt and Ann Romney did when they were young).
I'd keep an eye on Warren. The woman who has hair a little like Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies may or may not have the drive to be President, but she'll only be 67 in 2016.
Next: Bill Clinton