Abbreviated pundit roundup: DNC conference version

We begin today’s roundup with analysis of Michelle Obama’s powerhouse speech at the virtual Democratic National Convention last night. In case you missed it, you can watch the entire speech here. First up, Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post:

In a powerful keynote speech Monday night at the virtual Democratic National Convention, former first lady Michelle Obama proved that for someone who says she hates politics, she is one hell of a politician. She laid out a detailed, searing indictment of President Trump — and somehow managed to speak his name just once. (…)

The speech was less about Trump than about Trumpism — the chaos, the division and the “total and utter lack of empathy” that characterize his method of politics and governance. She warned that anyone who believes things cannot get worse is wrong. They can, she said.

Here’s Kali Halloway’s analysis at The Daily Beast:

Concluding the opening night of a Democratic Convention that until a few minutes earlier had felt overly platitudinous, centrist and bloodless, Michelle Obama delivered a speech that was the opposite—impassioned, uplifting and, at the same time, full of truths about America that this country rarely likes to acknowledge about itself. One of the most astounding moments in a speech filled with them came when the former first lady revisited a line that has been endlessly quoted since she uttered it 2016.

But this time around, the ex-FLOTUS—in tacit recognition of the toll that four years of Donald Trump’s bottom-feeding, “no low is too low” style of leadership has taken on the nation—necessarily amended her words to line up with the darkness of our times. It’s worth quoting her at length here: “Over the past four years, a lot of people have asked me, “When others are going so low, does going high still really work?” My answer: going high is the only thing that works, because when we go low, when we use those same tactics of degrading and dehumanizing others, we just become part of the ugly noise that’s drowning out everything else,” Obama stated. “But let’s be clear: going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty…. Going high means standing fierce against hatred while remembering that we are one nation under God, and if we want to survive, we’ve got to find a way to live together and work together across our differences.”

Ed Kilgore at New York magazine summarizes the first night as a searing indictment Trump:

The heart of the Democrats’ message, however, came at the end with speeches from Bernie Sanders and Michelle Obama – two speakers uniquely able to convince the progressive and Black voters who stayed home or cast protest votes in 2016 that they must put on the party harness this time around.

By the way, you can read and watch Bernie Sanders speak here.

Damon Linker at The Week examines what was on full display — the Democratic Party’s big tent:

It’s a potent message, and a crucially important one. Because the Democratic Party’s greatest strength — its extra-wide, big-tent breadth, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders holding down the party’s left wing and prominent NeverTrump Republicans welcomed to join in on the right — is also its greatest vulnerability.

What binds all the party’s ideologies and all of its identity-based groups together? For now, the answer is hatred of the Republican president and a willingness to set aside intra-party differences in order to form a united front to defeat him. That might be enough to ensure that presumptive nominee Joe Biden prevails in November. But even if it works, the divisions lurking just beneath the surface and papered over with such slickly scripted perfection on Monday night will still be there, ready to burst back into the open.

That’s why what wasn’t said on the opening night of the convention was at least as important as what was.

What was said was consistent — and insistent. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, arguably the furthest-left member of either house of Congress, portrayed Trump as a would-be authoritarian whose malice and incompetence had made the pandemic far worse than it had to be and contributed decisively to our ongoing economic woes. He also spoke warmly about Biden’s agenda and encouraged his millions of followers to put their faith in him as a force to advance their priorities for improving the country for all Americans.

And in case you were wondering how Fox “News” covered the DNC:

On Laura Ingraham’s program, which immediately followed the conclusion of the night’s proceedings with appearances from Eric Trump and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, viewers were told about the “radical socalist agenda” that had apparently been announced, perhaps in a secret off-camera meeting with George Soros and Xi Jinping.

No surprise there. The DNC showed that Democrats are offering up empathy and smart solutions to get back on track, while Republicans are offering up all they have — hatred wrapped in tin foil hats.

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