We’ve now officially passed the halfway point of the Democratic National Convention. Former president Bill Clinton was the main attraction of Tuesday night’s speaking lineup, but I managed to pick some other winners and losers too. They’re below.
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– Bill Clinton: Watching Bill Clinton give a high-profile address to a big crowd is watching someone who was born to do exactly what they are doing. Yes, the speech was looooong. Yes, he went way off the TelePrompTer. A lot. But, he also managed to tell one of the most well-known stories — his life with Hillary — in an engaging, funny and, yes, sweet way. Most importantly, the speech was almost entirely focused on his wife, not him — a remarkable thing for a) a former president and b) a former president named Bill Clinton.
The Hillary Bill Clinton described — putting liners in the drawers of Chelsea Clinton’s dorm room at Stanford — was a side of the Democratic nominee you never, ever see. And, through his personal story he told the story of Hillary Clinton’s perseverance and commitment to public service in a compelling and fresh way.
The man knows how to give a speech. It may not change many minds — most people have already made up their minds about the Clintons — but if there were questions about whether he could put his wife first and be the First Surrogate she needs, Bill Clinton erased them on Tuesday night.
– Lauren Manning: A Canter Fitzgerald employee who survived the 9/11 attacks but suffered massive burns all over her body, Manning’s story of perseverance over huge obstacles was among the most moving moments on an emotional night.
– The Roll Call: I am a sucker for state pride and weird facts about all 50 states. (Did you know Idaho has the deepest gorge in North America? Me neither!) The state-by-state roll call takes forever — particularly given that the result was, um, not up in the air — but I loved every minute of it. Where else can you see Rep. Andre Carson make up an “Apprentice-themed” rap about firing Donald Trump! Love it! America!
– Crying Guy: It is easy to make fun of people who get emotional about politics. But, to me, it’s sort of refreshing to see someone who cares enough — and so much — to get emotional about politics. So, crying guy, I see you. And I appreciate you.
– Elizabeth Banks: Jack Donagy wouldn’t be happy with Avery Jessup. (He was, after all, a dyed-in-the-wool Republican.) But, Banks’s entrance at the Democratic National Convention was, um, totally epic.
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– Terry McAuliffe: The Virginia governor was fine when he was onstage. But, man did he step in it when he got off of it. He told Politico that Clinton, who said she was opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the 2016 primary campaign, would reverse that position once she was in the White House. “Once the election’s over, and we sit down on trade, people understand a couple things we want to fix on it but going forward we got to build a global economy” McAuliffe said. “Listen, she was in support of it. There were specific things in it she wants fixed.” Ruh roh. Less than an hour after McAulliffe’s quote, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was on clean-up duty.
– Howard Dean: When he was rocketing to the top of the 2004 Democratic primary field, the Vermont governor was doing so on the strength of his emotional — and non-scripted — appeal to voters. Once he achieved front-runner status, he started acting more like a traditional politician — including reading off of a TelePrompTer. He didn’t do it well then. And he didn’t do it well on Tuesday night. Dean reading off a prompter looks like a man waiting to burst; he’s exuberant and emotional by nature. Also, what happened at the end of Dean’s speech? It was like he was a shaken-up bottle of Coke and someone suddenly knocked the cap off.
– Amy Klobuchar: For someone who clearly has an eye on national office at some point in the future, the Minnesota Senator showed Tuesday night that she still has work to do. While her subject matter — human trafficking — was powerful, her delivery was flat and uninspiring. And, it simply went on too long. Everything about it screamed “politician,” which is the opposite of what you want in a political environment like this one.
– Shouting: I don’t know who started it — was it you, Donald Trump?! — but I am committed to ending it. The microphone and sound system projects your voice, convention speakers. You don’t have to shout anymore! Be free! Also, great speakers don’t always whisper or always shout. Modulate your voice! We can do this!