One U.S. presidential nomination convention is over, and the other gathering is about to begin.
Democrats wrapped up their show in Denver on Thursday night with a tremendous and powerful display. Their nominee, Barack Obama, is an eloquent and effective speaker and delivered an extremely well-crafted speech.
Obama had an outdoor audience of approximately 80,000 people who arrived up to seven hours early to hear their champion.
Known for his oratorical skills, Obama didn't disappoint. The setting, staging and anticipation all combined to provide an electric atmosphere to kick off the formal final sprint for the White House.
It had begun, at least the public portion of the quest, 17 months ago, and it paid off this week in Denver with Obama closing out any chance of Hillary Clinton being on the Democratic ticket.
The entire Denver convention should receive a grade of "A" for arrangements, speakers, staging and the generation of enthusiasm and excitement.
The big question, however, is how good a job the convention did in selling Obama to voters across the country, not just those in the Pepsi Center or the 80,000 at Invesco Field.
There's no question that Obama is a superb public speaker, particularly when following a well-written text on a teleprompter. He is smart and attractive, and he has the historic attention-getting factor of being the first African-American to be nominated for this nation's highest elective office.
However, the entire Obama campaign theme has been to find fault with almost anything and everything the Bush administration has or has not done and to make pledge after pledge of what he would do if he were elected.
It's easy to say he would end our nation's dependence on foreign oil in 10 years, but he doesn't say how he'll do it or whether it is, indeed, possible. He talks about so many major issues that are, indeed, of concern and great importance to America and its citizens, but he does not say how he intends to solve the problems.
It's easy to cite the problems and get an audience excited and enthused about what he is saying, but it's quite different to tell the public how he intends to execute the grand-sounding plans.
Republicans face a daunting task in trying to match the Democratic convention. Obama and his handlers did a superb job in the selection of good speakers; the staging was excellent and no expense was spared.
A good example of the differences occurred Friday morning when McCain announced his vice-residential running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The Wright State University basketball auditorium in Dayton, Ohio, was not a match for Denver's Pepsi Center, and the hand-painted signs touting McCain, Ohio, etc., were no match for the professional signage at the Denver show.
McCain's announcement was made the old-fashioned way, at a public gathering, rather than the Obama e-mail to his followers. The contrasts go on and on, including Obama's big advantage in the amount of money he has to spend on his election campaign.
It's going to be an interesting campaign. Friday's announcement about Palin raises many questions, and it is likely to cause Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden to rethink his debate tactics with Palin, compared with how he might have planned to challenge Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty.
At this time, no one knows how successful the GOP convention will be or whether delegates will return to their respective parts of the country enthused and excited about their presidential ticket and their chances of winning the election.
There are bound to be many comparisons between the Denver Democratic Convention and the St. Paul GOP gathering and the ability, attractiveness, respect and likability of the Obama-Biden team versus McCain-Palin.
Hopefully, voters will pay attention to what the candidates have to say during the next two-plus months, and those who go to the voting booths in November will be informed about the strengths, vision, character, truthfulness and ability of those seeking the world's most powerful office.
It's easy to make grand-sounding pledges, pander to the wishes of the electorate and say what is most popular to voters. It's something quite different to be able to deliver on those promises and pledges.