Best balloon drop ever. Photograph via CNN.com.
I’m old. I’ve watched every DNC since 1976 and this was the best one ever. The themes of the programming came together in a glorious final day. Instead of being dismissive, many Conservative pundits lavished praise on the convention. I actually retweeted something Jonah Goldberg of the NRO wrote. That’s right, William Fucking Buckley’s National Review:
He, of course, reverted to Cartoon Hillary Hate during her speech but Goldberg’s reaction showed how effective the DNC was. It was an attempt to make this election America vs. Trump. The speeches of the President and HRC reinforced this underlying message beautifully.
One thing bugged me about the Conservative praise. They called patriotism and optimism “Republican values.” They’re American values. I love my country despite its manifest flaws. It’s my flag too and if I want to wave it, I will. Since they’re woefully ignorant of history, I’d like to remind them that Ronald Reagan was a Democrat for much of his life. And that Franklin Roosevelt was his hero and political role model. In addition to being the greatest liberal President of all time, FDR was a war President whose speeches were laced with patriotic images. Repeat after me: liberals are patriots too.
I’m going to say one thing about the Busters before moving on. They don’t understand how badly they came off. Their much vaunted purism came off as rudeness. They also seem bound and determined to repeat the mistakes made by the anti-war left in the Sixties:
I guess Twitter *can* be useful no matter how irritating it can get. It’s time for me to explain the post title.
Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver of Missouri, who’s also a United Methodist pastor, gave one of the best afternoon speeches. He took the DNC to church with a powerful testament to Hillary’s tenacity in the face of her enemies.
“Now here’s a warning to those who might be tempted to spend the next four years trying to knock Hillary Clinton down. You better get ready for a woman who won’t stay throwed,” Cleaver said as he grew more and more impassioned. “They threw her down as the first lady, but she didn’t stay throwed! They threw her down as a U.S. senator, but she wouldn’t stay throwed! They threw her down as a secretary of state, but she wouldn’t stay throwed! They threw her down in this very campaign—this campaign—but she won’t stay throwed! No, she ain’t gonna’ stay throwed! She won’t stay throwed! She won’t stay throwed!”
That’s more exclamation points than have ever appeared in one of my posts but Rep. Cleaver was riffing. This remarkable passage was ad-libbed. Let’s throw down some segments about the rest of the finale.
A Reaganite Dissents: Bruce Elmets worked at the Reagan White House as a speechwriter and spokesman. He still reveres the Conservative icon. Mr. Elmets, quite correctly, regards Donald Trump as an affront to human decency. He opened with the Bentsen-Quayle colloquy as applied to the small fingered vulgarian, then delivered a blistering attack on the Insult Comedian:
He contrasted Reagan’s famous demand of Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall with Trump’s plan to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.
“Reagan saw nuance,” he said. “Trump sees the world as us vs. them, where somebody with brown skin or a foreign-sounding name is likely to blame for our troubles. Reagan knew that a leader needs diplomacy to steer a safe, prosperous course forward. Trump is a petulant, dangerously unbalanced reality star who will coddle tyrants and alienate allies.”
As a Californian, Reagan was a moderate on immigration, and would have been appalled by Trump’s proposal to expel Muslims from our country. That brings me to the finale’s most emotional moment.
The Wrath of Khan: Sorry, I’m a Trekker so I could not resist this sub-header. The Khan in question is a grieving Muslim father from Charlottesville, VA. Khizr Khan’s son, who was born in the USA, was killed in action in Iraq. I wasn’t planning to post a transcript of his remarks but it’s important for everyone to read his words:
Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. We believed in American democracy — that with hard work and the goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings.
We were blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams.
Our son, Humayun, had dreams of being a military lawyer. But he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers.
Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son “the best of America.”
If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.
Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.
Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words “liberty” and “equal protection of law.”
Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.
You have sacrificed nothing and no one.
We can’t solve our problems by building walls and sowing division.
We are Stronger Together.
And we will keep getting stronger when Hillary Clinton becomes our next President.
I may not be a Vulcan but I rarely cry. I completely lost it when Mr. Khan held his pocket constitution aloft and asked, “Have you even read the U.S. Constitution?”
I cheer-wept when he did that. I never cheer-weep. I remained verklempt, which led me to post this on Facebook in the wee, small hours of the morning:
Along with Mr. Khan, Emmanuel Cleaver, and Hillary Clinton, I won’t stay throwed. Donald Trump is a menace and an existential threat to our Democracy. His propensity to wing it and say, then deny, outrageous shit makes him unfit to hold office at any level let alone the highest office in the land. Speaking of which:
Madame President: It’s going to be a long, hard slog but I remain cautiously optimistic that will be her title come January, 2017. She appeared in all white as a tribute to her suffragist/suffragette foremothers. She dressed for comfort in a pants suit as if giving the finger to those who comment endlessly on her appearance. Much of the convention was devoted to making a case for the Real Hillary as opposed to the Cartoon canard created by her enemies.
Her speech was magnificent, a roaring tribute to the old-time Democratic religion. Yes, Virginia Hipster there were liberals before Bernie. She invoked the name of the greatest Democratic President of all to castigate Trump:
Well, we heard Donald Trump’s answer last week at his convention. He wants to divide us — from the rest of the world, and from each other. He’s betting that the perils of today’s world will blind us to its unlimited promise.
He’s taken the Republican Party a long way … from “Morning in America” to “Midnight in America.”
He wants us to fear the future and fear each other.
Well, a great Democratic President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, came up with the perfect rebuke to Trump more than eighty years ago, during a much more perilous time.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
HRC is not the natural orator that the current Oval One is, but it was a well-written, well-delivered speech that was as substantive as all get out. She’s a policy wonk and proud of it. I saw a woman liberated, and comfortable in her own skin at the podium last night. She has embraced the historic nature of her nomination. I saw Jane Sanders in the gallery during HRC’s speech. She looked moved. She had to be. She knows how far we’ve come as well as how much farther we need to go.
HRC said something that President Obama dared not say in his first acceptance speech:
So let’s put ourselves in the shoes of young black and Latino men and women who face the effects of systemic racism, and are made to feel like their lives are disposable.
That was a remarkable statement in a remarkable speech by a remarkable woman. Perhaps I should find another superlative but that one will have to do for now.
One quote that will endure was a zinger at her opponent followed by a quote from a FLOTUS of the past:
Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis. A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.
I can’t put it any better than Jackie Kennedy did after the Cuban Missile Crisis. She said that what worried President Kennedy during that very dangerous time was that a war might be started — not by big men with self-control and restraint, but by little men — the ones moved by fear and pride.
I’m proud to be an American and a Democrat this week. Neither my party nor my country are perfect. That’s an aspiration, not an achievable goal. We’re human being thus inherently imperfect. It’s what has bugged me the most about the Dead Enders to my left. We’ve been told, by what my friend Ed Branley calls “non-partisan progressives,” that the party needs to be more inclusive. Did you see the floor at the DNC? I saw America there. The Democratic Party has now nominated a black man and a woman. How is that not inclusive? Children born during the Obama-Clinton era will not think there was anything unusual about having a black or female President. How great is that, y’all?
Are we perfect? Hell no, every party and political leader has a weak spot; for Senator Sanders it’s gun control; for Ms. Clinton it’s her vote on the Iraq War. That’s why you have to judge Presidents by the TOTALITY of their record. After all, Franklin Roosevelt established Social Security, but also signed the order interning Japanese-American citizens. Woodrow Wilson enacted much of the early 20th Century progressive agenda but was a segregationist. Lyndon Johnson was responsible for the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, and Medicare but took the country into a divisive, futile and bloody war in Vietnam. Great virtues and great flaws in one person, party, or country are not uncommon. That’s life in the real world.
I have no illusions that some of the Hillary haters will ever come around. The image created by right-wingers and furthered by some on the left has become what our friends in France call an “IDEE FIXE.”Literally a fixed idea. It’s defined as “an idea that dominates one’s mind especially for a prolonged period.” The synonym is obsession.
It’s hard for people to let go of an obsession and the notion of Hillary as Nurse Ratched is indelible for many. All I know is that people who have never helped anyone in their lives think she’s a horrible person. They’re in the grip of an idee fixe. I pity them and hope they can let go to deny the White House to a man my late Republican father would not have allowed in his house, let alone voted for.
We can do better, y’all. We can do better. I’ll give President Obama the last word:
Look, Hillary’s got her share of critics. She’s been caricatured by the right and by some folks on the left; accused of everything you can imagine – and some things you can’t. But she knows that’s what happens when you’re under a microscope for 40 years. She knows she’s made mistakes, just like I have; just like we all do. That’s what happens when we try. That’s what happens when you’re the kind of citizen Teddy Roosevelt once described – not the timid souls who criticize from the sidelines, but someone “who is actually in the arena…who strives valiantly; who errs…[but] who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement.”
Hillary Clinton is that woman in the arena. She’s been there for us – even if we haven’t always noticed. And if you’re serious about our democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue. You’ve got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn’t a spectator sport. America isn’t about “yes he will.” It’s about “yes we can.” And we’re going to carry Hillary to victory this fall, because that’s what the moment demands.
Once again, I fibbed about the whole last word thing. The idea that the Democrats should meet Donald Trump’s challenge with anger is nonsense. We cannot out-anger Trump nor should we try. That’s the road to defeat. Optimism trumps anger even in tough times. We need a President who won’t stay throwed.