Former First Lady Michelle Obama. DNCC/Getty Images DNC Night 1 was awkward and dull, until two impassioned speeches saved the show.
The people behind the Democratic National Convention curtain need to throw out the script.
Actress and activist Eva Longoria did the best she could with a flawed concept, but halting one-minute interviews with "ordinary Americans," time-delayed "applause breaks," from the viewers at home, and a seemingly endless parade of "unity" montages only served to highlight that the flaws in the virtual DNC as a televised entertainment event.
With rare exceptions, the only effective, entertaining, memorable moments were the speeches — Bernie Sanders and Michelle Obama's, in particular.
The producers should just chalk it up to opening-night jitters, and then do everything they can to provide what are always the most memorable moments at past DNCs: more time with the party's stars addressing the nation.
In my latest column, I break down what went wrong and propose how the DNC can save the remaining three nights of their prime-time infomercial for Joe Biden's candidacy.
—Anthony Fisher Bill Clinton shames the Democratic Party and shouldn't speak at the convention.
You can't hold a Democratic convention without a Bill Clinton speech. It's the law, apparently. He's haunted every convention hall since before AOC was born. Every balloon that has ever been Democratically inflated since 1988 has had a small chance of falling gently onto his head. And so of course we must hear from him again tonight.
But must we, really?
He is, of course, a two-term president, and he's given a couple of great convention speeches. (He really saved Obama's bacon in 2012, when he made Obama's case better than Obama did.) But Clinton, who has every political gift except knowing when to shut his mouth, should have given 2020 a pass, and have had the wit to know that the party doesn't need to hear from him.
What has changed since the 2016 convention is #MeToo. When the #MeToo movement exploded in October 2017, within days it compelled even Clinton's admirers to reckon with the allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault levied against Clinton. We've long known Bill Clinton was a philanderer and a liar. And while Clinton's lawyers have offered broad denials when confronted claims such as those made by Juanita Broaddrick, he never persuasively rebutted these claims.
The Democratic Party no longer needs Bill Clinton to make their case. They have Obamas and Joe Biden and Kamal Harris and Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and even Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton no longer belongs at the podium. He brings shame on the party.
—DP Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg raises his hand to speak during the ninth Democratic 2020 U.S. Presidential candidates debate at the Paris Theater in Las Vegas on February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Mike Bloomberg should try harder
Poor Mike Bloomberg. He's spending more of his own money on the 2020 election than any person has ever spent on politics, and still people (like me) are just griping that he should do more.
He vows to spend whatever it takes to help Democrats and weaken Trump. He's given Democrats a $35 million data platform. He dropped $18 million cash in the Democratic Party's kitty. His gun safety group is spending $60 million to help candidates. And Bloomberg announced yesterday that he'll spend another $60 million helping hold the House for Democrats. (His $100 million in 2018 spending helped win 21 seats for House Democrats.)
Still it feels like he's not trying hard enough. Put it this way. Bloomberg has spent or pledged about $160 million so far to help Democratic candidates in 2020. That's a lot of money! Yet he spent more than $900 million on his own failed presidential campaign last winter.
Politics is cheap. In a brilliant 2011 piece, Jane Mayer explained how a medium-rich North Carolina businessman named Art Pope essentially gave that purple state a deep red legislature by tactically spending relatively small amounts of money.
Fifty-billion-dollar Mike has enough money and enough smart people to change politics around the country in this wide-open year. He should be spending hundreds of millions — not tens of millions — on the Senate races that Democrats need to win if they hope to be able to govern. He should be spending even more on state legislatures, state attorneys general, state judges, and state secretaries of state. That would help build Democratic foundation for a generation.
Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner is pictured at a daily coronavirus press briefing on April 2, 2020. Win McNamee/Getty Jared Kushner can go ahead and give up on the Black vote
Jared Kushner is still telling his father-in-law that the Trump campaign can double its share of the Black vote, per a profile in The Atlantic. And according to reports he's chatting with rapper Kanye West, who has been trying to hop on the presidential ballot in states across the nation. Republican party offices in Michigan, Wisconsin and Texas are all gearing up to target the Black vote too.
In other words, picking up some of the Black vote has become an important part of the way Kushner sees his father-in-law's campaign, and it is patently ridiculous.
Trump and his administration have been actively offensive to Black people, and parading Kanye West around only adds insult to this injury. It demonstrates that Kushner still thinks of the Black community as a caricature of itself, so impressed with money and hip-hop fame that — in the most important presidential election in decades — significant numbers of Black people would vote for a guy who said slavery was "a choice."
The GOP track record with Black people certainly won't help Kushner attract their votes either. Last night, the Democrats held their national convention and there were Black faces everywhere. This representation matters, a seat at the table matters, and there is no way you'll see that kind of diversity at the GOP convention later this month.
The Black community has a long history of fighting against all odds to force this nation to live up to its promise of "equal justice for all." It is a community that knows true sacrifice and heroism and has experienced devastating losses. This history has lent the community a natural, sometimes harmful skepticism of politicians and the political process. Earning the black community's trust takes years of dedication and loyalty.
So Donald Trump — a dedicated racist — is one of the last politicians on God's green earth who could break through that.
Trump's "what do you have to lose?" pitch may have worked on 70,000 voters on the fence in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin who didn't have an answer to that question, but history has given Black people several. And so they were not swayed then and they won't be now.
The only way to beat the Black community is to play on its skepticism and, cynically and hypocritically, the Trump campaign has abused that too. Back in 2016 Black voter suppression was part of its Facebook strategy. The same went for Trump's ally on the internet, the Russian government.
The fact that the Russians are aware of this isn't new either. The USSR saw racism as one of this country's great weaknesses and used that to its advantage to discredit the US constantly. Racism is an inherently anti-democratic ideology, and when any politician employs it you can be sure that a subversion of our founding principles is not far behind. Black people know that. And so Kushner should understand that he is wasting his time with Black voters.
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