The Democrats’ 2020 national convention from nowhere came out of the gate with footage of Democrat conventions from 1968 going forward, building on quotes from Barack Obama claiming “we are one people,” and various state representatives echoing former vice president’s Joe Biden’s claim that “this is a big f—kin deal.”
That all might have been true in one sense. The split-screen style recalled The Thomas Crown Affair and the script might have broken the world record for platitudes and hagiography. The elegant Tracee Ellis Ross hosted the event in real time, but for most of the show it was difficult to tell what was live and what had been pre-recorded and heavily edited. Some viewers may have wondered about the casting. For example, Florida agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried was doubtless unfamiliar to many viewers. On the other hand, the keynote speaker, once on Biden’s list for vice president, had been in the news of late.
Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates was fresh off a session with the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which she conceded that FBI boss James Comey had gone “rogue” in the action against Gen. Michael Flynn. Still, Yates defended what the FBI said was its basis for targeting Flynn, whose legal woes continue. “Yates is either lying or grossly incompetent,” President Trump tweeted in response, “It is not possible she could have known so little about Dirty Cop James Comey (and others) from her high position in the Department of ‘Justice.’ The political crime of the century and she had no idea what they were doing.”
The holdover Yates, gained fame by refusing to enforce President Trump’s ban on travel from countries where terrorism prevailed. The ban was upheld, but on Tuesday night Yates called it “shameful and unlawful” and charged that Trump “trampled the rule of law” and “tried to weaponize our justice system.” It’s now clear that such weaponization was already in progress against Trump, and like other Democrats Yates never accepted Trump’s 2016 victory. So in his view, now we need Joe Biden who, Yates said, “spent his life putting our country first.”
Former Secretary of State John Kerry was so convinced the weaponized DOJ and FBI would topple Trump that he travelled the world acting as though he had been elected. Tuesday, Kerry described Trump as a “blooper reel,” only interested in defending himself. Joe Biden, on the other hand, “woke up the world to genocide in the Balkans.” Kerry closed out by invoking D-Day, which was “the opposite of everything Trump stands for.”
Sen. Charles Schumer stood backdropped by the Statue of Liberty, which he said Trump “demeaned.” Trump has “quit on America” and Joe Biden “will be a great president,” dealing with climate change, systemic racism, and income inequality. And so on.
Gen. Colin Powell, a former Secretary of State, told the audience he shares the same values as Joe Biden. The nation, Powell said, needs a commander “who takes care of troops” and will “stand with our friends and against our adversaries;” Joe “Biden “means business” and Powell believes Biden will restore American leadership in the world.
Viewers only heard former president Jimmy Carter, who said Joe Biden “must be our next president.” Like many others, former president Bill Clinton dealt with Trump’s response to the pandemic. Clinton plucked Trump’s “it is what it is,” from its context, but which may have reminded viewers of Clinton’s own: “it all depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is,” in the context of “that woman.”
For Clinton, Trump will “blame, bully and belittle” and Biden will “build back better,” which like other parts of the show might have been penned by David Axelrod or George Stephanopoulos. Clinton could have been live, but he didn’t come across as very presidential. This was Joe’s show, and there was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez representing Bernie Sanders.
AOC hailed a “mass people’s movement” of guaranteed health care, and healing the “wounds of injustice, colonization and homophobia.” And she seconded the nomination of Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders, who got plenty of votes from many states, including 231 from California and 42 from Colorado. Even so, Joe Biden, who tangled with Sanders during the primaries, was officially nominated. “Celebration,” by Kool and the Gang marked the hard-fought victory.
Much of the rest was the “Joe and Jill Show,” with Jill getting a lot of screen time. Viewers didn’t see or hear much from former President Obama, who hasn’t been much of a Biden booster. After Michelle Obama’s speech Monday, President Trump said he would not have been elected “if it weren’t for the job done” by her husband.
That was the true back story to the Democrats’ first virtual convention. This is what happens when a nation elects a president whose own biographer, David Garrow, says Dreams from My Father is a novel and the author a “composite character.”
Meanwhile, the show continues Wednesday, starring Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and other Democrat luminaries.