On Monday night shortly after Michelle Obama finished speaking, CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, as he expressed his disappointment that the Democrats didn’t go negative on the first night of their convention, inserted a barb against the Republicans: "...There is one big missing piece tonight I think, which is why the American people should throw the bums out. We haven't heard one word about that. We have the most unpopular President in American history, and he's barely been mentioned tonight. I just think that is an extraordinary gap...." He further explained that "Democrats have never shown, at least in recent history, that they are good at negative campaigning. Republicans are terrific at it, and Democrats have been lousy at it, and I don't think they were any good at it tonight."
About two hours earlier, just after the beginning of 9 pm EDT hour, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen expressed similar disappointment in the Democrats, though he used more subdued language: "[W]hat really has surprised me, so far, is that we're two hours into this and the Democrats have offered almost no substance for television purposes. You know, we've had very little that’s been compelling thus far.... I mean, having worked on the choreography of these before, you need to grab people's attention with a message early on and then build to your ten o’clock hour, not to let these hours sort of get frittered away in a lot of hoopla, which is, you know, is fun and interesting, but I don't think it's compelling."
Toobin’s remark came just after the top of the 11 pm Eastern hour on Monday evening during the network’s convention coverage, after co-host Campbell Brown asked him about Michelle Obama’s "reaching out to Hillary Clinton" during her speech, which had just concluded. Just before this, Brown asked Gergen about his earlier remarks regarding his disappointment in the Democrats:
CAMPBELL BROWN: Anderson, I want to ask David to follow-up on the point that he had made earlier, a complaint, that David, you had had earlier about sort of the lack of compelling message coming out of this convention so far. Did that change, do you think, when she took the stage tonight?
DAVID GERGEN: I think she rescued the evening for the Democrats, but much more importantly, she gave the validation for Barack Obama and the Obama family that I think Americans were looking for. You want to have some better sense of who are these people, you know, what are their values, where do they come from, and more importantly, what do they believe our future ought to be about?
The full transcript of Toobin’s remarks to Campbell Brown during CNN’s Monday night coverage of the Democratic convention:
CAMPBELL BROWN: Jeff Toobin, that moment, her reaching out to Hillary Clinton?
JEFFREY TOOBIN: That was -- they're going to be a lot of moments for the next 3 days where the Clinton people recognize the Obamas, the Obamas recognize the Clintons -- but there is one big missing piece tonight I think, which is why the American people should throw the bums out. We haven't heard one word about that. We have the most unpopular President in American history, and he's barely been mentioned tonight. I just think that is an extraordinary gap in --
BROWN: But wasn't it supposed to be kind of a feel-good night, a get-to-know the -- that's how it was pitched.
TOOBIN: That's how it was pitched, but I think -- that's a useful thing, but it is not enough, when you have this -- You only have four nights, and you only have the American people's attention for a few minutes, and, and I just think you -- Democrats have never shown, at least in recent history, that they are good at negative campaigning. Republicans are terrific at it, and Democrats have been lousy at it, and I don't think they were any good at it tonight.
Update 08-26 7:00 | Matthew Sheffield. The liberal Toobin's dissatisfaction with Democrats' alleged inability to attack Republicans is something he shares in common with Democratic strategist James Carville who bemoaned the exact same thing last night:
Speaking on CNN, Carville said the party was too soft in its attacks on John McCain Monday night — the same mistake, Carville says, Democrats made at the 2004 convention. [...]
"You haven't heard about Iraq or John McCain or George W. Bush — I haven't heard any of this. We are a country that is in a borderline recession, we are an 80 percent wrong-track country. Health care, energy — I haven't heard anything about gas prices," Carville also says. "Maybe we are going to look better Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. But right now, we're playing hide the message." [...]
“If this party has a message it's done a hell of a job hiding it tonight, I promise you that," he said.