11:40 pm: President Obama says that the energy and creativity and care and right aims of the American people in political life are what has renewed his faith in America; by a remarkable symmetry, Barack Obama is the man who ended my own cynicism about Progressive causes. This was a fine speech, one that linked Barrack Obama’s Presidency with Hillary Clinton’s Presidential candidacy but which met a much higher bar in defining the American tradition: America is a country that raises up the many precisely in asking them to be stronger. That strength isn’t found in spite of the affection of each for the others that the President referred to, but is made manifest in it. It’s an unflinchingly-positive message; it’s also a message.
11:35 pm: “We don’t fear the future, we embrace it.” President Obama’s speech has a great narrative unity to it: Americans are Americans as the inheritance or the earned benefit of many individual choices, and Americans are bound together both by rational adherence to law and common bonds of affection.
11:26 pm: President Obama calls on Americans to turn-out to vote Democratic up and down the ticket. Democrats have lost 14 Senate seats, 71 Congressional seats, 10 Governorships (figuring Alaska’s independent Governor essentially a Democrat), and almost 1,000 State Legislature seats and over a dozen State legislatures since President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009. That’s the power of the demographic contrast–the older, Whiter, more-affluent, rural voters with lots of local social capital who turn-out to vote in State and local elections when Barack Obama isn’t on the top of the ballot.
11:23 pm: “(Secretary Clinton) knows that driving to make a better life for oneself is the quintessential American Dream, and the American Dream is too big for any wall to keep out.” President Obama casts the Democratic Party as the party of immigrants; Republicans are unlikely to be able to challenge that claim, as it cannot agree not to oppose legal immigration as well, through the advocacy of such Congressional luminaries as Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Congressman Steve King (R-IA).
11:16 pm: “I have to say, people outside of the United States don’t understand what’s going on in this election. That’s because they know Hillary. They know her work…” Yes, President Obama is trying to reinforce the most-important message of this Convention, the one former President Clinton made so compellingly last night: Hillary Clinton is her many good qualities. The impression you may have of her is a cartoon character created by Republicans a generation ago.
11:08 pm: “For 4 years, I came to see (Hillary Clinton’s) intelligence, her drive, and her work ethic. I came to realize that this wasn’t for praise, that it wasn’t for attention, that Hillary Clinton was in it for every one of us…” President Obama is a fine character witness for the former Secretary of State. He also says “…there’s nobody–not me, not Bill, no nobody, more-qualified to be President of the United States than Hillary Clinton.” That’s a big applause line in the Convention hall, but what I think people need to hear is something people should be able to see for themselves but have been told otherwise for too long, that Hillary Clinton is a human being.
11:03 pm: “What we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican–and it wasn’t very Conservative. It was a deeply pessimistic vision in which we turn away from the World, and turn away from each other…It wasn’t representative of the America I know.” If there are Republicans and Conservatives watching, you might as well confront them with it: In your heart, you know Trump is wrong.
10:58 pm: “…I stand before you tonight, as your President, to tell you that I’m more-optimistic about the future of America than ever before. How could I not be, after all we’ve achieved together?” He reads off the list: Overcoming the 2008 Financial Crisis, bringing health care to millions of Americans for the first time, protecting consumers from financial fraud, and a remarkable push that has led to acceptance of gay marriage among other things. He admits that there have been frustrating failures: Millions of Americans need work or better wages, and gun violence is a plague upon our country.
10:53 pm: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.”
10:45 pm: What follows is a compelling accounting of President Obama’s difficult decisions and frustrating moments of his term. I have such admiration and gratitude of this man; I grieve fire the passing of his term already. We need leaders who champion the truly disenfranchised and who will speak difficult truths–but who can maintain that professorial calm and sense of responsibility in the moment–that he may pursue the sometimes non-linear course of justice rather than just try to settle scores or give the crowd instant gratification. It’s hard to find these qualities, but much easier to find either without the other. This is the great character of a great President.
10:40 pm: Sharon Belkofer, the Gold Star Mother of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Belkofer, says “I wish every American could hug President Obama, so they could see the goodness in his eyes and feel the warmth in his heart. She recounts her loss of her son in wartime, and President Obama’s encouragement of her successful school board election. This is a story that, in our acrimonious era, hasn’t received the attention it deserves: President Obama is a decent man who asks himself what is right, and who strives to build others up and to foster the best in them.
10:30 pm: A friend says that Senator Kaine’s speech was much stronger while he was staying positive, before he counted the ways that Donald Trump is a crook and a liar (which I think any person being honest would have to agree that Trump is). He says that Senator Kaine’s affability is his asset. Upon reflection I agree that he is right; but before he brought it up, both when he was positive and when he was negative, Senator Kaine struck me as a man who could prevent dough baking in the oven from rising into bread by talking to it.
10:25 pm: Senator Kaine’s Donald Trump impression is a much better Senator Sanders impression, clearly distinguished only by the references to criminal mischief in business and xenophobic promises.
10:16 pm: Senator Kaine correctly identifies Virginia as a Commonwealth, not a State; he is also so uncharismatic that he makes George Bush Sr. look like Charlton Heston. He is at the Democratic National Convention, and he makes you want to shrug in assent when he describes the richly-diverse cultural tapestry of strivers with ancestry from around the World who continually beat the odds to build and renew America; that’s a line that should have you clapping and nodding and your eyes misty.
10:14 pm: Senator Kaine accuses Donald Trump of abandoning the legacy of the Party of Lincoln. Trump does that for reasons that alienate limited-government Conservatives (in opposing existing free trade agreements) and both Conservatives and Liberals (in what us undeniably race-baiting). You’d think that condemning Donald Trump in the light of the example of the Republican Party’s many past statesmen would be a more-central theme of this Convention than it has been; I think it would be a more-compelling way of condemning Trump than repeating so many of the almost-inexhaustible examples of his vulgarity and bigotry. There is only so much we can even say about all of that nonsense, however scary.
10:11 pm: “We all live in the same country; we are all Americans,” Senator Kaine says in very crisp Spanish.
10:03 pm: That’s right, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) is a loyal congregant of a majority-Black church, and he was Governor of Virginia during the tragedy of the Virginia Tech mass shooting. At least part of Secretary Clinton’s thinking in choosing Kaine as her running mate has become clear to me.
It certainly isn’t because Senator Kaine is a charismatic public speaker–And those are the words I type as Kaine accepts his party’s nomination for Vice President of the United States. “I wasn’t supposed to be here,” he jokes, but his voice is a little too authentic in the delivery of that particular line.
9:59 pm: Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) speaks next. The shape of his Congressional District changed considerably last year when a Federal Court ruled (as later upheld by the Supreme Court) that Virginia Republicans’ Congressional District map constituted an unconstitutional “racial gerrymander”, likely preventing the election of a 2nd Black Congressman. As a consequence, Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA) will likely lose re-election now that he is no longer protected from the large Black population in the Virginia Tidewater.
9:44 pm: Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks on behalf of Secretary Clinton. A moderate Republican who became a political independent, Mayor Bloomberg really did straddle contemporary political ideologies in many ways, closing down Manhattan streets for pedestrian thoroughfares and celebrating the arrival of an international billionaire class in New York City, continuing Mayor Giuliani’s numbers-driven policing policies and becoming a nationally-prominent advocate for gun control. Months ago, Mayor Bloomberg made headlines when he said he would run for President as an independent if either Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz won the Republican Presidential nomination and Senator Bernie Sanders won the Democratic Presidential nomination. It’s not surprising that Mayor Bloomberg has endorsed Secretary Clinton, a confirmed advocate of gun control.
Gun control gets its own night at the 2016 Democratic National Convention? Meanwhile, most Congressional Republicans cannot support any gun control regulations while 74% of NRA members express support in an internal poll for transaction-point background checks on firearms purchases. Our country really does seem to be dividing in 2, but much of this is interest-group driven and not representative or organic.
I really appreciate Mayor Bloomberg’s support for Clinton, but his speech is not a barn-burner. There doesn’t seem to be much passion or much of a message behind being an independent (Wow); I’m more convinced than ever that we simply need a means for elected Democrats and Republicans to have benign structured interactions with each other. Mayor Bloomberg, a Republican in a different era, has become a Democrat in all but name.