DENVER -- Former President Bill Clinton took it all back on Wednesday, all the primary shots about Barack Obama's inexperience, telling a wildly cheering Democratic convention of a time when voters sent a young, inexperienced man to the White House.
Like Clinton in 1992, "Barack Obama is on the right side of history," said Clinton. And Obama is "ready to lead," even from Day One, Clinton conceded.
The rap on the 2004 convention was that it was soft on President Bush, setting up a narrow loss for Sen. John Kerry after his war hero record and patriotism were questioned. Obama is not going to make the same mistake. He will be tougher. Joe Biden, his running mate, will be tougher.
In a show of force on the third day of the Democratic convention, the most central criticisms of Obama were rhetorically demolished -- with Clinton doing much of the heavy lifting.
John McCain was slammed by Sen. Evan Bayh, Sen. Jack Reed, former Sen. Tom Daschle and most forcefully by Kerry and Biden, who said electing McCain is merely handing Bush a third term.
Kerry got that rare do-over and gave the speech he should have made during his 2004 bid.
"This time, we are going to win," said Kerry, as he tore into McCain, claiming his maverick image is a "myth" and highlighting his policy switches. "Talk about being for it before you're against it," said Kerry, turning a deadly line hurled against him in 2004 toward McCain.
Bill Clinton came to the Pepsi Center needing to undo Hillary's slogan, "Ready to Lead from Day One,'' the unsubtle indictment of Obama's thin resume. Clinton needed to tell her backers to vote for Obama in November.
Clinton justified the new vote of confidence by giving Obama credit for the long, protracted primary battle with Hillary, which "tested and strengthened him." Clinton may be moving on, but the Republicans are not. They are using Hillary's most stinging anti-Obama sound bites in ads. Bill offered the rebuttal.
"Barack Obama is ready to lead America and to restore American leadership in the world. . . . Barack Obama is ready to be president of the United States," Clinton declared.
Sixteen years ago, Clinton's nominating convention closed with Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinking about Tomorrow" as confetti came down in Madison Square Garden.
On Wednesday, Clinton was welcomed on stage with the same song.
The signature Clinton tune --as with the other oldies played by rocker Melissa Etheridge -- was just right for Obama Wednesday night.
Indeed, "The times, they are a changing."