Nightline Awards Democrats 'Straight A's' for 'Perfect' Third Night

“Professor George Stephanopoulos,” on Wednesday's Nightline, awarded the Democrats “straight A's” for the third day of their convention, with an A for “Filling in the Blanks,” an A for “Heartstrings,” an A for “Red Meat” and an A for “Body Language.” The former Bill Clinton campaign operative and White House aide glowed over “a night of perfect political choreography” from his former boss and other Democrats as he marveled “the only problem Barack Obama has right now, and it's a high-class problem, as Bill Clinton used to say, is can he top what happened tonight?” Anchor Terry Moran echoed: “An extraordinary series of speeches.”

Nightline has used Stephanopoulos all week to assign grades. Not counting his F on Monday night for the "garish stage," of eleven grades over three nights Stephanopoulos has presented eight A's, two grades of B+ and one C.

Giving his A on Wednesday for “Filling in the Blanks,” which he described as “defining who Barack Obama is,” Stephanopoulos was enamored with Bill Clinton and his credibility:

The question that has not been answered in this convention is: Is Barack Obama ready? It's a question on a lot of American people's minds, you saw Bill Clinton there. He's been a commander in chief. He said from what I've learned from being there, Barack Obama is ready. It was a big speech, it was a generous speech. It was an essential speech.

Moran chimed in: “Classy speech, and there aren't many people who can make that endorsement.”

The “Nightline Report Cards” assessed by Stephanopoulos so far this week:

Monday:

Heartstrings: A (Kennedy)
Filling in the Blanks: B+
Bells and Whistles: F (garish stage)
Clinton Psychodrama: incomplete
Tuesday:
The Speech: A (Hillary's)
Red Meat: A (more attacks on Bush-McCain by Hillary)
Filling in the Blanks: C
Body Language: B+
Heartstrings: A (Chelsea Clinton)
Wednesday:
Filling in the Blanks: A
Heartstrings: A
Red Meat: A
Body Language: A
Will Stephanopoulos be so generous and easily impressed next week in St. Paul?

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the explanations for the Wednesday, August 27 grades on the show broadcast from inside the Pepsi Center in Denver:
TERRY MORAN: Well, now, it's time once again for the "Nightline Report Card." And once again, Professor George Stephanopoulos joins us. All right. Let's grade them. Let's grade them. First, that big question, first subject. Filling in the blanks, defining who Barack Obama is.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: A. And that's the first time in this convention. The question that has not been answered in this convention is: Is Barack Obama ready? It's a question on a lot of American people's minds, you saw Bill Clinton there. He's been a commander in chief. He said from what I've learned from being there, Barack Obama is ready. It was a big speech, it was a generous speech. It was an essential speech.

MORAN: Classy speech, and there aren't many people who can make that endorsement.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Absolutely. Not a lot of people thought that Bill Clinton couldn't make that endorsement, or wouldn't make that endorsement; tonight he did.

MORAN: Okay, all the way. Heart strings. This has been an emotional roller coaster for Democrats this convention. And tonight, Joe Biden coming forward with an emotional life story, having faced a lot of hardship in his life.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Another A. And he has faced a lot of hardship in his life. When he was elected to the Senate in 1972 at the age of 29, one month after he was elected, his wife and daughter got killed in a car crash. His son Beau was in the car. Tonight, he came out and introduced his dad.

BEAU BIDEN, SON OF JOSEPH BIDEN: He decided not to take the oath of office. He said then, "Delaware can get another Senator, but my boys can't get another father."

MORAN: A very powerful moment. Joe Biden himself did not really talk much about that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Just one line, but also pulled on the heart strings.  He turned up to his mom, his 91-year-old mom, and reminded people that she told him then that God does not give us burdens we cannot bear.

MORAN: A very powerful moment. Okay, red meat. Let's get into politics. Red meat, how are the Democrats doing attacking the Republicans?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Another A. And this was Joe Biden, and what he did tonight was lay out the case the Democrats have to make in the fall on both the economy, the necessity for change and foreign policy. For Democrats, they want to be arguing the question is not experience, but judgment. Here he was.

JOSEPH BIDEN: Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the people who actually attacked us on 9/11, they've regrouped in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and they are plotting new attacks. And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has echoed Barack's call for more troops. John McCain was wrong and Barack Obama was right.

MORAN: Joe Biden there making the case for Barack Obama by going after the Republicans. And finally, this subject, body language. This is the first look this convention and the country have had at Barack Obama as the nominee.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Absolutely. He came out at the end of the night and gave the perfect grace note at the end of the night. What you've seen over the last two days, the theme has been unity. Hillary Clinton going out of her way to say that Barack Obama is the candidate. Bill Clinton going out of his way. Tonight, Barack Obama came to the hall and returned the favor.

BARACK OBAMA: If I'm not mistaken, Hillary Clinton rocked the house last night.

MORAN: So straight A's tonight from-

STEPHANOPOULOS: A night of perfect political choreography. The only problem Barack Obama has right now, and it's a high-class problem, as Bill Clinton used to say, is can he top what happened tonight?

MORAN: An extraordinary series of speeches. Maybe some grade inflation?

STEPHANOPOULOS, LAUGHING: A little bit. No, it was a good night, though.

MORAN: It was a good night for the Democrats. George Stephanopoulos, thank you very much for that, our "Nightline Report Card."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center