The second night showed the upside of the virtual convention format but the third night showed its limitations. The stirring speeches given by Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris cried out for a live audience whereas those by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama worked better without one. Not surprising in Clinton’s case but Obama typically feeds off the energy of the audience as he builds to a crescendo. There was little of the soaring rhetoric the former President is known for: it was a somber and solemn address befitting our somber and solemn times
Let’s begin with Obama’s remarkable and unusual speech. The best word to describe its tone and content is jeremiad. I wish I could take credit for dubbing it as such, but I heard Princeton professor Eddie Glaude Jr. use the word in the post-game show on MSNBC. Here’s how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines jeremiad: “a prolonged lamentation or complaint also a cautionary or angry harangue”
In addition to being a bullfrog in the Hoyt Axton song, “Jeremiah was a naysayer. That Jewish prophet, who lived from about 650 to 570 BC, spent his days lambasting the Hebrews for their false worship and social injustice and denouncing the king for his selfishness, materialism, and inequities.”
We’ve never seen Barack Obama like this before. It was an angry Obama: angry at what Donald Trump has done to our country and to Obama’s own legacy. He never raised his voice, but you could see the rage in his eyes and feel the anger in his words. It was coherent and rational anger. It was Obama anger.
It was a powerfully written and delivered speech. It was pitch perfect for these troubled times:
Obama’s jeremiad made it possible for Kamala Harris to strike a more positive tone in her acceptance speech. We’ve all seen tough and steely Kamala on the debate stage and in Senate hearings, it was time to see her warm and friendly side. We needed to hear more of her personal story as much of the country is just getting to know her. It worked because it’s genuine: she’s nice person from a nice immigrant family. Nice people can be tough too. People are complicated.
Senator Harris also showed her tough side. I used her most memorable line as part of the post title. “There is no vaccine for racism.” If there was, President* Pennywise would be against it as indicated by his bizarre remarks about QAnon yesterday. There are good people on both sides, after all. #sarcasm
Speaking of Trump, Harris trotted out one of her greatest hits, “I know a predator when I see one.” I do too and he looks something like this:
The ending of the speech was as awkward as the address itself was powerful. Joe Biden sauntered onstage and obviously wanted to hug his running mate. A wave and a smile would have to do thanks to President* Pennywise’s grotesque incompetence and negligence in handling the pandemic.
A personal note. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m pleased that the Democratic party has finally put a Californian on the ticket. The GOP did it in 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972, 1980, and 1984. Remember when California was a swing state in presidential elections? I do. That changed when Gov. Pete Wilson went proto-Trumper on immigration. Let’s hope Texas follows their example in 2020.
Since I posted Obama’s speech, here’s the Vice Presidential acceptance address:
I’m excited about the upcoming campaign. Joe Biden was not my first choice, but he strikes the perfect contrast to the Impeached Insult Comedian. Trump posed as a “common man” in 2016. Joe Biden is the real deal. A reminder that Trump was impeached because of his fear of running against Biden in 2020. His worst nightmare is about to come true.
The last word goes to Frank Sinatra with the 1960 campaign versions of High Hopes and All The Way: