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Sen. Ted Kennedy’s unscheduled appearance tonight was certainly the emotional highlight of the first day of the convention, surpassing Michelle Obama’s eloquent address. (In case you missed it, click here for a video. To see a photo gallery, click here.)

But who cared? Also, how can Sen. Hillary Clinton hope to top this on Tuesday night?

Kennedy looked and sounded pretty good for someone who has just gone through radiation treatment and chemotherapy to combat a malignant brain tumor. It was easy to get caught up in the emotion of the moment, particularly when the camera flashed to California First Lady Maria Shriver in the audience – without her Republican husband – wiping away tears as she applauded her uncle.

“As I look ahead, I am strengthened by family and friendships,” he said.

Kennedy, who was introduced by his niece, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, touched on simple themes of family, values and the importance of rising to high ideals, themes Michelle Obama would also discuss later in remarks which capped the evening.

At one point during her address, Michelle Obama said, “All of us are driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do – that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be,” she said. “This is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope. And you see, that is why I love this country . . . ” she said, after which she received a standing ovation.

The last remark was a clear response to criticism she received over her comment in February that “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”

One of the best moments of the speech came later, when Michelle and her two daughters, Malia, 10, and Natasha, 7, greeted Obama via satellite as he sat in a Kansas City living room. “Now you know why I asked her out so many times,” Obama said.

Then Obama asked his daughters, “Malia, Sasha, how do you think Mom did?”
“I think she did good,” Sasha replied, holding the microphone, which, as any parent knows, is a risky proposition – in any setting.

It’s a reminder that if Obama wins this election, Malia and Natasha, known as “Sasha”, will be the youngest children to live in the White House since Amy Carter moved there in 1980.
What did you think of Monday’s speeches? Did Michelle Obama do her job in humanizing her husband?
– Paul Gullixson