A Keynote Destined to be Forgotten

As in 2004, the three broadcast networks ignored the keynote address at the Democratic nomination, sticking with their usual prime-time entertainment line-ups in the 9:00 to 10:00 hour.

That created an extra challenge for Mark Warner, this year’s keynote speaker, to make his address so compelling that the networks would end up talking about it and running clips from it anyway. That’s what Barack Obama did as the keynoter the last time around, marking the first time in modern convention history that the most memorable speech of the entire week was delivered to such a small television audience.

That was probably an unfair and maybe even impossible standard for Warner to meet – and not surprisingly, he didn’t meet it.

His address was competent and his words were appealing, if not entirely new (he touched on the same future-vs.-past themes that defined his abortive presidential campaign, which he ended in late 2006 before ever formally launching it). His delivery was average, if not flat – a typical politician delivering a typical speech, to the casual viewer. If the whole country had been watching and waiting on his every word, it might have worked. But the whole country wasn’t watching, and Warner said and did nothing that will make his speech a story when the networks pick up their coverage at 10:00.