Grumpy: Wow Mouse, what an emotional night.
Two surviving women of the Mother Emanuel Church shootings gave heart wrenching testimony about their ordeal followed immediately by Captain Mark Kelly introducing his wife Gabby Giffords who was struck down by, but survived, an assassin’s bullet. As she acknowledged, talking is hard for her now. It seems like every word must be forced to her lips, but once she does force them out they speak a powerful message urging the nation to take action to curb gun violence through better regulations.
With all that emotion leading us up to the headliners for the night I knew to keep the tissue box close.
Mouse: Yeah, I bet tissue sales are sky high this week. I’m reapplying mascara like there’s no tomorrow and I need more of those eye drops that keep the red out. I couldn’t be happier and no one can wipe the smile from my face.
One sad and touching moment was the tribute to the Democrats we’ve lost in the last four years. Sadly among them was Joe Biden’s son Beau.
Grumpy: Before we got to the headliners we heard from Rear Admiral John Huston (Ret). The Admiral, looking straight into the camera and pointing his finger to tell Trump he isn’t fit to polish John McCain’s shoes, was one such moment. To use a cliché, he brought down the house.
Uncle Joe, what can you say to describe VP Biden that hasn’t already been said. He was damned near perfect. He talked about friends and family putting the important things in life first and in so doing reminded us why the political decisions we make have importance and meaning. He talked about ordinary people doing extraordinary things calling them the heart and soul of the country. He also talked about the Hillary Clinton that he knows well. He reminded us that her life story shows that she has always been a champion for those with dire needs, especially children. As for Trump, Joe summed him up with one word: malarkey. As only Joe could do, he went off script at the end. He waved both fists in the air extolling those present and the rest of America yelling, “Come on! We’re America!”
Mouse: Malarkey is such a good word. It should be use more often this election season, especially when we’re subjected to any Trump speech.
Grumpy: Michael Bloomberg made the case against Trump in a way that no Democrat could. He admitted that his would be a most unconventional convention speech and he was correct. He didn’t come the convention to talk to the Democrats assembled there. Instead he addressed Republicans and independent voters. He summed up his own message that it was time for us to put aside partisan differences for the good of the country and unite against a dangerous demagogue. He closed with a very strong condemnation of Trump, “….let’s elect a sane, competent person with international experience. A unifier who is mature enough to reach out for advice, to build consensus and to recognize that we all have something to contribute. So let’s elect Hillary Clinton…”. Without mentioning his name Bloomberg called Trump insane, incompetent, inexperienced and immature. That gets a thumbs up from me.
Mouse: Hmmmm… those words are as good as malarkey. I’ll use them too.
Grumpy: I thought Tim Kaine got off to a shaky somewhat nervous start but he recovered well. Talking about his family seemed to relax him. He obviously is proud of his family. He pointedly took on Trump and he will be a good attack dog on the stump. It has to be driving the Trumpsters crazy to hear him slide into Spanish so easily, how can you twist a message you can’t understand? Kaine wasn’t just an attack dog though. He didn’t take too long with his personal story, just long enough to highlight the lessons about service to others he learned from his Jesuit education. I liked his line telling Republicans who might be disappointed in the direction of their party that they could find a welcome home in the Democratic party. Gun Violence had to be an important part of his address having been Governor of Virginia when the Virginia Tech Massacre happened. That event became central to his advocacy for gun control reforms. Tim Kaine is not Uncle Joe but he’s going to be a good advocate for the important issues facing America. I’ll sum up Tim as he summed up Hillary, “listo”! Ready, prepared, smart, battle tested, rock solid and never backing down.
Mouse: I like Tim Kaine too. I can’t say I was familiar with him before but now that I’ve heard him speak I look forward to hearing him again. We Democrats have a new uncle!
Grumpy: I think the choice of speaker to introduce President Obama says all you need to know about the man, our President. Sharon Belkover doesn’t come from high society. She isn’t an elitist Wall Street banker. She is a Gold Star mother from small town Ohio. Her son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010 and she first met the President at Ft. Drum when he took time to meet with God Star families. She met him again at an event in Ohio one year later and the President asked to see her. Again he comforted her. She became inspired to help her community and ran for school board in her home town at the age of 73. When she won her election the President took the time to send her a hand written letter of congratulations.
Mouse: She was amazing. I couldn’t help but think how calm and confident she looked speaking in front of a huge crowd and all those cameras.
Grumpy: From the moment the movie introducing the President started I was so glad to have those tissues close at hand. I am glad they are nearby now as I type this. It was 2004 that Obama burst onto the national scene at the convention in Boston as an Illinois State Senator. Only 4 years later he spoke again to Democrats in Denver as our nominee for President and again in 2012 in Charlotte as President. I am sure we have not heard the last of President Barack Obama at these gatherings but it still has a feeling of finality this year. That movie touched on many important moments in his Presidency but the one that sticks out the most to me was at one of those all too frequent memorials for the victims of gun violence. An obviously choked up Obama seemed to struggle to continue with his prepared remarks and instead began to sing, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…”.
As usual our President hit all the right notes last night. Passionate, funny, happy, serious, sincere, optimistic and, as always, loving.
No one could blame him if he just used the speech to reminisce but that wasn’t why he was there last night. He knows we have more work to do. He knows the only path forward to continue “perfecting our union” is by protecting us from, what Bloomberg earlier called a dangerous demagogue, Donald Trump. He knows that the only person standing in the way of that demagogue is his good friend, former political rival, now ally and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He talked about having a front seat view for 4 years to “her intelligence, her judgment and her discipline.” He talked about her work for the Children’s Defense Fund, for fighting for funding to help 9/11 first responders and about how she fought in favor of the mission that took out bin Laden.
President Obama wants us to know that Hillary is the most prepared person to ever stand for the office of President. Much to the chagrin of President Clinton he included himself and President Clinton in that group of “less prepared” candidates.
Our President turned to attack dog taking on “The Donald”. He started on the economic issues hammering hard at Trump’s record of stiffing people as he amassed personal wealth. National security also got his attention. Hillary is the one ready to take on ISIL without resorting to torture or banning entire religions. Trump, on the other hand, calls our military a disaster. “Apparently”, Obama points out, “he doesn’t know the men and women who make up the strongest fighting force the world has ever known.”
“America is already great, America is already strong”, he truthfully proclaimed before declaring that the greatness and strength does not depend on one person, does not depend on Donald Trump. Our strength comes from the declaration that “We hold these truths to be self evident. That all men are created equal. That we the people can form a more perfect union. That’s who we are, that’s our birthright, the capacity to shape out own destiny.”
Harkening back to John Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you” speech the President continued, “Americas never been about what one person says he’ll do for us. It’s about what can be achieved by us, together, through the hard and slow and sometimes frustrating but ultimately enduring work of self government. And that’s what Hillary understands.”
This was the strongest endorsement by an outgoing President for his chosen successor in America’s history but it didn’t end when he said “God bless the United States of America”. It continued when Hillary joined him on stage. They shared a smile, a word and a hug before they turned to America to wave in solidarity as current and future Presidents. United in service to America. United in faith in our future. United to insure a hateful demagogue will not sit in the Oval Office in January 2017.
In closing I’ll just quote our President one more time for when you think about the alternative to Hillary this fall:
“Don’t boo, vote.”