If you've ever watched figure-skating compulsories ... well, that's what last night was like.
Hillary Clinton gave the most important speech of her political career Thursday and did not blow it.
The speech itself will not go down in history as great oratory; it was more like a talented figure skater working through required elements. There was at the top a plea for the restive Bernie Sanders supporters to join with her. She noted that the convention had approved a heavily Sanders-influenced platform and she promised that as president she would implement it. “Your cause is our cause,” she said.
It mostly worked. There was a bit of booing, but no major disruptions as she skated through the rest of her program: The promises to raise up working families; the repeated calls for the country to come together; the pledges that the rich must pay more and the poor must get paid more.
And then she turned her guns on Trump, which is guaranteed safe territory at a Democratic convention. Her take on her opponent could be summed up by her description of his acceptance speech last week: “He spoke for 70-odd minutes — and I do mean odd.”
Clinton’s speech was far more predictable but not quite as memorable. But she executed all her required moves and will likely be scored well by the judges.
Another POV from across the pond, same take.
Mrs Clinton, in an acceptance speech that occasionally soared and sometimes trudged along, did her best to frame the upcoming general election race in her favour.
Donald Trump had his shot last week in Cleveland. Now it was her turn.
And, like her Republican opponent, she did it by trying to paint herself as five different personas.
Leader, optimist, progressive, doer, ground-breaker (aka glass-ceiling shatterer). Four out of five ain't bad. Democrats collectively went from horrified a week ago to consoled and content. What were y'all so scared of?
In the audience, Clinton supporters were moved to tears, including 16-year-old Victoria Sanchez.
"This is more than I ever could have imagined," she said. "I know that I have just lived history and I can follow in her footsteps. This changes my entire life."
I'm happy for all those who took the moment as historic -- as if constantly seeing and hearing the word during television coverage was ever going to let us forget it -- and let's not discount the value of the grassroots army she mobilized, from women to Latino to LGBTQ.
But back to the speech. It was a real tour de force for those who crafted it; pitch-perfect in some spots. Every box checked: direct appeals to the Sanders caucus, Trump's balls severely busted, no mention of her recent legal troubles or DWS (who has truly been a complete disaster). The GOP butt-hurt was strong.
Many of the conservatives who watched with dismay as the Republican Party nominated Donald Trump have now watched with amazement as Democrats co-opted some of Republicans' favorite themes at the Democratic National Convention.
Democrats' thinking was clear: We're the only political party left for grown-ups, so we'd better make sure we have something to offer voters on both sides of the aisle.
American exceptionalism and greatness, shining city on hill, founding documents, etc--they're trying to take all our stuff— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) July 28, 2016
There was a clear choice about tone, especially on the last two days of the convention: Speakers would not mock conservatives for getting into bed with Donald Trump. They would mock Trump and make the case that conservatives should be embarrassed and ashamed that their party nominated him – and should look across the aisle at a party that shares more of their goals and values than they may have realized.
So the Democratic convention had retired military officers making the case for Hillary Clinton's steady hand as commander in chief, paeans to Ronald Reagan, and optimistic messages about the indispensability and exceptional nature of America.
Marco Rubio was specifically one who was shitting bricks. My least favorite moment was the Screaming General, John Allen, and the "USA, USA" chanting and flag-waving. Straight out of Republican central casting, and as bad as it sounds. Even Clinton's own segue-way into bellicosity couldn't match it, perhaps by design. I'll just give you the whole speech and let you decide. (Skip to the two-minute mark if you'd rather not hear his introduction by Rep. Ted Lieu.)
And Little Marco was also one of the few who acknowledged the protests in the hall. And the media had a lot to complain about.
With the exception of the disruptions mounted by the Bernie or Bust delegates, the Democrats’ convention ran pretty smoothly — inside the arena.
Outside the arena was a different story. Unlike Cleveland, the Philadelphia convention site is about 6 miles from downtown, where the bulk of delegates were sleeping and the bulk of parties and events were staged. That meant an enormous amount of vehicle traffic that created gridlock around the arena at peak hours. Making matters worse, the state police closed a lane on I-95 to enforce a ban on overweight trucks, creating massive backups for anyone coming in from outside the city.
Media were housed in giant tents that were steamy hot by midday and freezing cold when not in direct sun. Summer downpours pounded the cloth ceilings, making everything else inaudible, and when lightning approached, reporters were advised to run across an open parking lot in the rain to take shelter in a baseball stadium.
The broad consensus of attendees was we would rather be in Cleveland.
See you in Houston next week. folks. Can't promise cooler weather, but the crowds will be thinner and we might even have a hurricane.
I'd say Madam Secretary is in for a yuuuge convention bounce, and this poll from swingy Pennsylvania showing her with a nine-point lead may or may not be an outlier.
Watch for a new series coming this weekend: the Daily Jackass. It will feature somebody in the media ragging on Jill Stein or voting Green. First up: Chris Hooks at the Texas Observer.