About six years ago, I was called to serve on a federal jury. I really didn't want to serve, so I did everything in my power to avoid it. When the judge for the trial was someone who I covered regularly at my newspaper, I was sure I'd be let go. I wasn't. And I ended up spending a couple of weeks digging through a complicated conspiracy to commit mail fraud trial.
It turned out to be a great experience. Working with 11 of my fellow citizens, some of whom found me frustrating and some of whom I found frustrating, we eventually found the defendant guilty of multiple counts. When it was all over we met with the defense attorneys, led by one Billy Martin.
Martin was incredible. He had managed to get almost all of the evidence for the trial thrown out. He was brilliant at casting doubt on all the witnesses. And he had just the right balance of sensible talk and manipulation. Speaking as one of the last holdouts on the jury (and not because I thought the defendant was innocent so much as because I wondered whether the government had truly made its case) Martin was the attorney I would want if I were ever accused of a crime.
I'm telling you all this because that's what I thought of Bill Clinton's performance last night. The Democratic Convention turned out to have a weak end. But Michelle Obama's speech and Bill Clinton's speech were high points.
I'm not sure if voters will decide Obama is guilty of mismanaging the country or not, but Clinton gave about the best defense Obama could ask for. That Obama flubbed it on the witness stand with his bizarre defense tonight didn't help, but if Obama survives, I think he owes a huge debt of gratitude to Clinton.