Through its first three nights, which have featured soaring addresses by Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and finally President Obama, I think it’s safe to say that the 2016 Democratic National Convention has been a pretty big success.
Don’t worry, Republicans. Your convention was a great success too. Under the direction of Donald Trump, it performed its prime function remarkably well, leaving the American people no doubt about how you see this country, the world and the future. Nobody who watched both events can sit there and seriously claim that there is no difference between these two parties, that it really doesn’t matter which of them is given control of the White House and Congress this fall.
It matters, America. Don’t boo. Vote.
Last night was Obama’s night; tonight will be Hillary Clinton’s. And as he was leaving, Obama took full advantage of the moment.
“What we heard in Cleveland last week … was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world,” he told a national TV audience. “There were no serious solutions to pressing problems – just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate.”
Such talk sells the American people short, he said.
“We are not a fragile or frightful people. Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order. We don’t look to be ruled. Our power comes from those immortal declarations first put to paper right here in Philadelphia all those years ago: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that together, We, the People, can form a more perfect union.”
He also reminded us of what the Republican Party had once been, and what it is has become.
“Ronald Reagan called America ‘a shining city on a hill.’ Donald Trump calls it ‘a divided crime scene’ that only he can fix. It doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades, because he’s not offering any real solutions to those issues. He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear. He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.”
Afterward, Rich Lowry of the conservative National Review tweeted out a lambent lament: “American exceptionalism and greatness, shining city on hill, founding documents, etc. — they’re trying to take all our stuff.”
And as somebody else quickly responded: “Well, you weren’t using it anyway.”
As I watched and listened to the president’s speech, I couldn’t help thinking about the arc that his presidency has taken.
After the Democratic convention back in 2008, Republicans were attacking Obama, complaining that the Democrats hadn’t instead chosen Hillary Clinton, someone whom they could respect, someone more reasonable, someone they could work with. And throughout the next eight years they assassinated Obama’s character and heritage and refused to be seen cooperating with him. They have even been unwilling to acknowledge his legitimacy as a president and as a true son of America.
Yet like Daenerys from the fire and Daniel from the lion’s den, Barack Hussein Obama has emerged from that largely unscathed, with Reaganesque job approval ratings, while those who made it their life’s work to destroy him are now condemned to the special type of hell of defending the likes of Trump, a man whom they themselves despise and fear as a threat to this country.
And why might they despise and fear him? Oh gee, I don’t know…..
Paul Ryan, you know better. Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Marco Rubio, President George W. Bush … you all know better. You and others have admitted that you know better many times, in many ways. You know that he’s disastrously wrong on economics, and have said so. You know that in his support for Vladimir Putin and attacks on NATO, he has already done this nation harm, yet you reassure us that once he’s installed with the vast powers of the presidency, somehow you’ll rein him in and teach him.
You don’t believe that. Again, the GOP convention was quite effective in communicating the situation to those voters willing to pay attention. In speech after speech, The Man himself went unnamed by speakers who wanted to support the party nominee but who were too embarrassed to publicly utter the words “Donald Trump.” Rubio phoned it in, literally; Ted Cruz at least had the courage not to kiss the ring of a man for whom he clearly has no respect, and for good reason.
They have nominated He Who Must Not Be Named, and expect the rest of us to pretend not to notice.