An undecided voter on President Obama's convention

Summary:It's the Democrats. What could possibly go wrong?

Where's Hillary?

One of the biggest questions of the convention -- where's Hillary? -- actually has a relatively straightforward answer. No, it's not that she's angry at Barack (or Bill, for that matter). In fact, she's in Asia, in the small island nation of East Timor. She's actually prohibited by Federal law from attending political activities.

Yep, the Hatch Act of 1939 rears its head once again. For those of you who haven't been following along since 2007, I wrote extensively about the Hatch Act as it pertained to White House use of email accounts for Where Have All the Emails Gone? (free PDF download).

The Hatch Act is a law (in some ways a very obsolete law) that dictates the separation of political activities with governing activities. Mrs. Clinton, by virtue of being SecState, is subject to both Hatch Act restrictions and State Department policies and can't attend.

That's also why we didn't hear from Condi Rice when she was President Bush's Secretary of State.

John Kerry

Unfortunately, while waiting for Biden to speak, we had to endure John Kerry. If I never have to see or hear John Kerry speak again, it'll be too soon. As powerful and masterful as Bill Clinton is, John Kerry is the opposite.

In fact, it wasn't until I suffered through yet another John Kerry speech Thursday night (why won't the Democrats learn to keep him sidelined?), that I realized Obama might have a real chance of winning.

That's because, weirdly enough, John Kerry reminds me of Mitt Romney. It's not just because they're two long-faced men of privilege from Massachusetts, but because they both seem many steps removed from truly identifying and resonating with the needs of most Americans.

Joe Biden

Let's be clear about two things. First, Vice President Joe Biden is the gift that keeps on giving to political pundits. He's often a little too free with what he says, which gives us material to riff on for days.

But the second fact is one many people don't recognize: Biden knows his stuff. The single most important thing you need to know about Biden is that, in the event of a tragedy, he could very competently take over the presidency. Biden is a master of foreign policy and national security and has long been a champion of the middle class.

Although he's never had the public persona chops to make it to the White House on his own, he'd undoubtedly make an exceptional president. I've seen the work he's done over the years and he's one of America's elder statesmen, in the true sense of the term.

That said, when Biden stands up to give a public speech, anything can happen. As a political sports fan, I was definitely looking forward to this one.

Talking of Romney's recommendation a few years ago that the auto industry be allowed to fail, Biden said, "The Bain way may bring your firm the highest profits, but it's not the way to lead the country from the highest office."

I actually strongly disagreed with Mitt Romney's November 18, 2008 New York Times editorial, "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt".

While the bankruptcy process may have guided America's once-great auto makers through to a new beginning, it also could have decimated them. The issue goes beyond those companies, though, because that industry has such a reach economically (and emotionally) throughout America. If you think we were fighting a depression back then, imagine just how depressed we would have been if we'd lost GM and Chrysler.

Worse, if GM and Chrysler died, so would have all the aftermarkets that orbit them, from parts makers to mechanics to dealers. And if the aftermarket fell, that would make it far harder for Ford to get parts and resources, so it's likely that Ford would have collapsed simply as a result of the industry around it collapsing.

It's still not clear whether or not the Cash for Clunkers program was a good idea and whether we're really going to see an upside from our days owning Government Motors, but I have to agree with Biden that Romney's idea of letting the auto industry die was penny-wise but pound-foolish.

Speaking of the Bin Laden takedown, Biden also made the only truly strong counterterrorism message I've heard from either party, "If you attack innocent Americans, we will follow you to the end of the earth."

It is interesting that the Democrats this time, rather than the Republicans, are the ones with the seasoned foreign policy and military leaders. That's different from the Bush years, where so many of their senior officials had seen war after war and managed them at a national level.

Great quote: "It's never been a safe bet to bet against the American people. We have no intention of downsizing the American dream."

Next: President Obama and some final thoughts.

Topics: Government, Government : US

About

In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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