The 2020 Democratic Convention, mercifully, is over, and former Vice President Joe Biden is officially the party’s candidate.
Four days of dreary virtual programming interspersed with even drearier musical interludes were brought to a welcome finale by the emergence, finally, of the candidate himself from his basement.
Against all odds, Biden read prepared remarks from a TelePrompter quite effectively, dousing GOP hopes of an epic meltdown.
Still, Biden’s comments did not go anywhere we have not already been.
Over the four nights of the convention, the main messages from Democrats were:
President Trump is a very bad man.
Joe Biden is a very good man.
The United States is irredeemably racist and is in need of profound change.
Democrats must think Americans are simple; why else would they choose to bore their audience senseless by endlessly repeating these few points?
President Trump was pummeled by scores of presenters for failing to eliminate COVID-19, for presiding over a drastic downturn in the economy, for trying to dismantle ObamaCare, for trying to “sabotage the post office” and so much more.
All these claims can (and will) be disputed, but even intelligent people like former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg repeated the party lines.
After all, it was through following the advice of the medical experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, that Trump shut down the economy to tackle the virus. Unemployment is high because he did just that. You cannot blame him for not acting and also blame him for the consequences of his actions.
Americans realize that before the virus struck, the country was booming. That’s why Trump consistently out-polls Biden on handling the economy.
Up until Biden spoke, viewers had heard much about the candidate’s decency, but little about his plans for the country. As might be expected as he attempts to win over fractious progressives in his party, he promised a cornucopia of goodies and miracles that no earthly being could possibly deliver.
Biden promised to do away with the coronavirus by making rapid testing available (which it already is) and by instituting a national mask mandate. I’m sure college students partying on campus will mend their ways.
He promised 5 million new manufacturing jobs, even though his former boss Barack Obama had scoffed at President Trump’s pledge to do the same and to make college affordable, relieve the burden of student debt, make it safe for schools to reopen, and guarantee child care for everyone.
He promised to empower labor unions, guarantee equal pay for women and provide higher pay for essential workers.
All this will be paid for by making corporations and the wealthy pay their “fair share.” Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., were doubtless virtually applauding.
But mostly the convention was about showing that Bad Trump lacks empathy, whereas Good Biden has it in spades.
His family and others drew a touching portrait of a kind man, but it was buttressed by far too many references to his personal tragedies, and especially the sad death of his son Beau to cancer. It is a very moving story but nobody should run for president as an object of pity.
In contrast, not only does Trump not emote, he is also, according to Biden and his colleagues, a racist.
It was puzzling that the entire convention was so heavily focused on race. Democrats certainly cherish identity politics, but given Biden’s solid support among African Americans, the overwhelming emphasis on Black voters seemed curious.
Do they worry that President Trump’s passage of criminal justice reform and support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) might expand his standing with African Americans? Or that Blacks living in Democrat-led cities now facing rising violence are warming to Trump’s tougher stance on policing?
Football player extraordinaire Hershel Walker tweeted during Biden’s remarks, “Wow Democratic Convention, you’re playing the race card way too much tonight. You all have been in office for years and have done nothing for African Americans. Every four years you do this for a vote. And the violence and death in our communities, yet you say nothing?”
Maybe Walker is not alone.
The most important endorsement during the convention, for sure, came from former President Barack Obama at whose side Biden toiled for eight long years.
Obama generously called him his “brother,” and told the virtual audience that “he helped me manage H1N1 and prevent an Ebola outbreak from reaching our shores.”
He said Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris would “expand health care to more Americans, like Joe and I did 10 years ago” and claimed Biden would “rescue the economy, like Joe helped me do after the Great Recession.”
Note that in each of those endeavors, Obama awarded Biden the “assist,” but only that.
It was curious that neither Barack nor Michelle Obama, who spoke on the first night of the convention, credited Biden with enormous insight or intelligence; they lauded his character instead.
Democrats had three goals during their convention. The first was to blister President Trump, and that they did. Pew surveys show 56% of Biden’s supporters are voting for Joe Biden because “he’s not Trump.” Only 9% cite his policies.
Democrats’ second goal was to present their party as united, and their tent as welcoming to all. They were modestly successful, though progressives whined about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being given only a 60-second spot during the proceedings, while several Republicans were treated like rock stars.
Their third goal was to introduce Kamala Harris to voters, with the aim of boosting the ticket. Harris gave a meandering unfocused speech on Wednesday night in which she was by turns personal and combative.
Coming after more than an hour of “You go girl” feminism from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Warren, Harris’ message was a bit stale.
Still, the nation now knows who she is.
Clearly the fourth goal of the convention was to boost Biden’s polling. His speech may well move that needle, but Trump will get his at bats next week, so Biden’s bump could prove short-lived. Especially if he again retreats to his basement.