In one respect, the virtual Democratic Convention proved Tuesday night to be a massive improvement on the real thing: The roll call of the states leading to the nomination of the presidential candidate.
It’s usually a trial to sit through. Not this time. The sheer visual variety of the 57 separate little rah-rah moments delivered by sometimes eloquent, sometimes wacky speakers proved to be an unexpected delight.
The necessary evil of every convention became an unexpected high point, especially the guy from Rhode Island who talked about the state’s squid business while the burly and masked guy next to him held up a plate of calamari.
MICHAEL GOODWIN: DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION LONG ON PAIN AND GRIEVANCE, SHORT ON HOPE AND FAITH
But it was followed by a low point when the feed cut to Joe Biden just after he had been formally nominated. He stood in a schoolhouse room next to some balloons. He didn’t quite know where to look and held a tense smile as, behind him, some streamers popped out and fell down from the acoustical tiles on the ceiling.
The visual was spectacularly awkward and profoundly ill-conceived. Biden is trying to become a world-historical figure, a kingslayer who will become a king himself. The scene made him look like a mid-level executive having a retirement party on Zoom, especially when it cut to dozens of people applauding.
Dozens of people? Biden needs to get 70 million votes in November!
His weird mush-mouthiness made another appearance at the evening’s close when he hugged his wife and referred to himself as “Jill Bliden’s husband.” Bliden, not Biden.
For good measure, Biden got hung up on the word “lady” and repeated it three times, just in case you’re wondering how soon after the November 3 election in which he prevails Democrats will be quietly discussing if and when to invoke the 25th Amendment.
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Far more positive — and politically supple — was Cindy McCain’s video tribute to the friendship her late husband John shared with Biden. The Democratic nominee is an old man from an older time, and usually, that would be something to be hidden or soft-pedaled.
But it’s part of the Biden pitch to the undecided voters who will determine the winner of this election that he will restore some form of pre-Trump politics. Pointing out his ability to maintain cross-party friendships even with the Republican nominee he helped to defeat in 2008 is a potent reminder of that.
That said, boy, was this an evening about the past, and not exactly the most glorious past either. John Kerry, the 2004 presidential loser, was brought on to attack Donald Trump on foreign policy and hilariously suggested he and the Obama administration had done a great job in the Middle East when he was secretary of state.
Bill Clinton was there too, with a line of attack that seemed powerful until you thought about it for 10 seconds. He said the Oval Office should be a command center, but that Trump had turned it into storm center — which may be true of Trump, but it was another kind of disgraceful center when Clinton was president, and he reminded people of that by bringing up the subject.
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Still, the festivities closed with a lovely speech by the possible next first lady, who fleshed out the tragic circumstances that preceded their marriage (the deaths in a car accident of his wife and daughter, in which his sons sustained terrible injuries as well) and the strength and resilience Biden has been called upon to show time and again in the face of pain and adversity.
The only thing is … her name is Jill Biden, not Jill Bliden.
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