Former President Jimmy Carter has been out of office so long that nobody laughed when he spoke of a strong America. (What a nasty old man he’s become, despite all his good works.) Still, those who thought the Democratic convention would turn into a 1968 style fiasco have so far been disappointed.

Not much electricity before Bill Clinton addressed the faithful, but there were some emblematic visuals: The Pantsuit Brigade, known as the female Democratic female senators, lined up self-consciously behind Senator Barbara Mikulski, Senator Hillary Clinton shaking her head “no” as she spoke warmly of John Edwards; and Al Gore, mad professor on downers.

An ABC poll practically on the eve of the convention indicates that Kerry is slipping in the polls in the wake of the report from the 9/11 Commission. He may have more to accomplish at the convention than was originally thought.

Maverick liberal, both Kerry basher and Kerry campaign contributor, Mickey Kaus of kausfiles asks: 

“[D]o you think that NPR and the rest of the organized press would have made such a huge fuss about the 9/11 Commission report if they’d known the result would be this:

“An improving economy and the handover of authority in Iraq are among the likely factors influencing these [more favorable voter assessments of Bush]. So, too, is the attention focused on terrorism by the release of the Sept. 11 commission report last week. The nation’s response to 9/11 has been Bush’s finest hour in public approval; focus on it accrues to his advantage.”

US News’ Michael Barone notes that what matters will be The Speech by Kerry, which Kerry is said to be drafting himself with help from campaign honcho and class warrior Bob Shrum. Barone says it’s likely to be quite unlike anything either of them has done before.