*** NOTE: We've revamped our afternoon Slatest newsletter to deliver a text-heavy recap of the day's top stories to our subscribers' inboxes. Wednesday's edition, the 12th under the new format, is below. You can sign up here to receive it in your inbox daily. ***
ALL EYES ON BILL CLINTON: The former president headlines Day 2 of the DNC festivities with what is expected to be a forceful defense of President Obama's economic vision. The hype around Clinton's prime-time address began slowly building almost immediately after it was announced earlier this summer but has grown exponentially in the past day or so.
The Christian Science Monitor's Liz Marlantes explains why that's not a good thing for Team Obama: "In politics, low expectations can often be a blessing in disguise, since it's easy to exceed them, while high expectations can prove hard to meet (think George W. Bush versus Al Gore in the 2000 debates). And for Clinton, expectations have been through the roof. We cannot recall a convention speech as eagerly anticipated—and ridiculously hyped—by the national news media as the Clinton speech has been over the past several days."
THE CHALLENGE: The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf: "Clinton has proven time and again that he is good at attacking Republicans. He's never shown himself to be as adept at praising peers. This year, attacking the other side is likely to be less effective, and making an affirmative case for Obama more necessary, given that Obama has been the one wielding power for the last four years. Can Clinton make another Democrat look good not just in comparison to 8 unpopular years of GOP leadership, but on the strength of his achievements? Or will he do little more than effectively attack Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan?"
RYAN'S PREBUTTAL: National Journal's Rebecca Kaplan on the ground in Iowa: "Paul Ryan on Wednesday professed interest in former President Clinton’s upcoming speech at the Democratic National Convention—because he predicted it will merely point out flaws in President Obama’s record. 'My guess is we will get a great rendition of how good things were in the 1990s, but we’re not going to hear much about how things have been the last four years,' Ryan said."
TIME MACHINE: Politico's Kevein Cirilli rounds up Clinton's eight most controversial quotes about the man he will be championing tonight. A sample: “In theory, we could find someone who is a gifted television commentator and let them run. They’d have only one year less experience in national politics,” Clinton said in a December 2007 interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose.
RECOMMENDED READING: David Remnick's 2006 profile of the former president, "The Wanderer."
BILL'S LEAD-IN: Elizabeth Warren. The New York Times' Matt Bai on the disjoint that will be on display in Charlotte: Tonight "begins the hard sell of President Obama to the middle class. And for this task, the campaign has juxtaposed two prime-time speakers—Elizabeth Warren and Bill Clinton, one right after the other—who in their core philosophies represent contradictory, even irreconcilable strains of American liberalism."
Happy Wednesday and welcome to the Slatest PM, where we promise to return to our regularly scheduled programming and cast the afternoon net a bit wider once the conventions wrap up. In the meantime, follow the entire @slatest team and your host @JoshVoorhees on Twitter. You can also fill his inbox with whatever's on your mind at email@example.com.
FURTHER PROOF HE'S AN NBA FAN: President Obama will deliver the grand finale on Thursday from the relatively cozy confines of the Time Warner Cable Arena (home of the Charlotte Bobcats) and not the 70,000-odd seat Bank of America Stadium (home to the Carolina Panthers). DNC organizers made the move official this morning, citing weather forecasts that show a good chance of thunder storms tomorrow night.
LEFT OUT IN THE RAIN: While the move removes organizers' fears that their candidate would address a crowd checkered with empty seats at the sprawling BoA Stadium, it nonetheless means that thousands of supporters who had planned to watch the president in person will be left without a seat. TWC Arena can fit less than a third of the total that the NFL stadium can.
WILL DEMS CALL ON THEIR OWN "MYSTERY" SPEAKERS?: It looks that way. If a trio of Hollywood actresses takes the stage as planned, they are sure to be compared and contrasted with Eastwood's unscripted performance on Mitt Romney's big night. Given the bad press that appearance earned the RNC, we're guessing that's something Democrats are banking on.
THERE HAS GOT TO BE ANOTHER EXAMPLE THEY CAN USE: DNC delegates made it three-for-three on Nazi-themed references this week when South Carolina Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian compared S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley to Hitler's mistress this morning. Judging by the way it is lighting up our Twitter feed, it's a safe bet that the third reference was the one that turned this from a minor news nugget to a larger news story.
THE ABSENCE OF GOD: Paul Ryan wants the Obama administration to explain why the Democratic platform doesn't include the word God in it. "It’s not in keeping with our founding documents, our founding vision," the VP hopeful told Fox News this morning. "I’d guess you’d have to ask the Obama administration why they purged all this language from their platform."
WHO WAS BETTER: Michelle Obama or Ann Romney? The Slate/SurveyMonkey asks, you answer.
STILL LOOKING FOR MORE ON THE CONVENTION? Slate's John Dickerson, David Weigel and Sasha Issenberg have you covered and then some.
CHECKING THE TRAPS—
NYT: "The United States and China clashed openly on Wednesday over two of the most contentious issues riling their relationship, the violence in Syria and growing tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea."
WSJ: "The deepest look into the human genome so far shows it to be a richer, messier and more intriguing place than envisioned, offering scientists both more challenges and opportunities."
WaPo: "Afghanistan’s military said Wednesday that it has arrested or expelled from its ranks hundreds of soldiers, part of a major effort to stop the growing number of fatal attacks on U.S. and NATO troops by their Afghan partners."
Reuters: "The U.S. Justice Department is ramping up its rhetoric against BP PLC for the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, describing in new court papers examples of what it calls 'gross negligence and willful misconduct.'"
AP: "A powerful, magnitude-7.6 earthquake shook Costa Rica and a wide swath of Central America on Wednesday, collapsing some houses, blocking highways and causing panic and at least one death from a heart attack."
See you back here tomorrow. In the meantime, tell your friends to subscribe here.