Given how dangerous Donald Trump truly is, how cavalier he is about torching the Constitution and tallying American casualties, it’s probably a darn good thing he’s stone-cold stupid.
Trump’s whole strategy has been to depict Biden as a decrepit vegetable who doesn’t know where he is or what day it is, some old fossil who drools when he tries to string together a sentence. Contrast that cartoon with the guy who capped the Democratic convention with a performance that was presidential in both style and substance.
Only Trump cultists drunk on the demagogue’s Kool-Aid could possibly conclude otherwise, but those folks aren’t reachable anyway. Thursday night, even some of Fox News’ commentators felt compelled to acknowledge reality. Karl Rove, the former Bush guru, said that Biden gave “a very good speech,” Brit Hume said that Biden spoke “with force and clarity,” and former Bush press secretary Dana Perino said that Biden “hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth. He had pace, rhythm, energy, emotion, and delivery.”
How so? Let us count the ways:
He prioritized country over party. Drawing a sharp contrast with Trump (one of many), he said: “While I will be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn’t support me as I will for those who did. That’s the job of a president – to represent all of us, not just our base or our party. This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment.”
He concisely defined the historic stakes in 2020: “This is a life-changing election that will determine America’s future for a very long time. Character is on the ballot. Compassion is on the ballot. Decency, science, democracy. They are all on the ballot. Who we are as a nation. What we stand for. And, most importantly, who we want to be.That’s all on the ballot.”
He pointedly pledged to repair our battered standing in the world: “I will be a president who will stand with our allies and friends. I will make it clear to our adversaries the days of cozying up to dictators are over. Under President Biden, America will not turn a blind eye to Russian bounties on the heads of American soldiers. Nor will I put up with foreign interference in our most sacred democratic exercise – voting.”
He spoke directly, and authentically, to Americans who are grieving and hurting: “I know how it feels to lose someone you love. I know that deep black hole that opens up in your chest. That you feel your whole being is sucked into it. I know how mean and cruel and unfair life can be sometimes. But I’ve learned two things. First, your loved ones may have left this Earth but they never leave your heart. They will always be with you. And second, I found the best way through pain and loss and grief is to find purpose. As God’s children, each of us have a purpose in our lives.”
He highlighted his specific plan to fight the pandemic. “We’ll develop and deploy rapid tests with results available immediately. We’ll make the medical supplies and protective equipment our country needs. And we’ll make them here in America. So we will never again be at the mercy of China and other foreign countries in order to protect our own people. We’ll make sure our schools have the resources they need to be open, safe, and effective. We’ll put the politics aside and take the muzzle off our experts so the public gets the information they need and deserve. The honest, unvarnished truth. They can deal with that. We’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask – not as a burden, but to protect each other. It’s a patriotic duty.”
Plus, a quiet coda from an Irish poet: “Seamus Heaney once wrote, History says, Don’t hope on this side of the grave / But then, once in a lifetime / The longed-for tidal wave / Of justice can rise up / And hope and history rhyme. This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme… May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here tonight as love and hope and light joined in the battle for the soul of the nation.”
We’ll see next week whether Trump can match Biden’s rhetorical power, compassion, and perfect pitch. How foolish it was to place the bar for Biden so low that even a caterpillar could’ve vaulted it. And how fortunate we are to have a sane alternative to four more years of madness.
Copyright 2020 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]