I think Democrats proved that they have more first-class orators than the GOP tonight. But having listened to basically the entire night of speeches, including from the B-list workaday governers and congressfolks who aren't great orators, I couldn't help but notice something—in their rote lines, Democrats are embracing the role of the party of fiscal austerity.
It's a role they got comfortable playing in the late Clinton years and all throughout the eight long years of Bush's big deficits and "irresponsible" tax cuts and wars-fought-with-borrowed money. And tonight I heard them happy to embrace that old role again. We stand for a responsible balanced approach to fiscal consolidation, they stand for profligate tax cuts for multi-millionaires. It's a dialogue among practical politicians that's well to the right of the debate among policy elites. There was no hint of anything like Peter Orszag's barbell stimulus (higher short-term deficit paired with long-term consolidation) to say nothing of a Paul Krugman-style agenda.
Instead, standing in for ARRA people did speak about the auto bailout as an example of Obama era stimulative success. But that was looking backwards. I heard no hint from anyone of belief in the idea that short-term budget deficits can boost a depressed economy. Given how central that idea has been to the debate among elites over the past three and a half years, that's pretty amazing.
Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention.