I was really puzzled at first by the Kathleen Parker column The State ran this morning, panning the Democratic Convention. She seemed to get it all wrong. She griped about how “the only thing I dislike more than a circus ringmaster running my country is manipulative, emotion-mining propaganda,” and said she could barely watch it.
Which is how I feel about MOST conventions, regardless of party; I have to turn them off or walk out of the room periodically to keep my head from exploding — all that throwing of red meat to snarling partisan mobs.
But as I said on the second night, this convention wasn’t like that — which I finally decided was because the mobs weren’t there! They weren’t feeding off each other in ways calculated to turn off anyone who isn’t one of them. As I said that night, “The thing I hate about conventions is missing!”
Then I saw that this was Kathleen’s impression of the first night — this is what you sometimes get these days from print outlets that go to bed in the early evening. What you read is often days past the sell-by date. (The rather belated post I put up about the second night ran two days ago.) I didn’t watch that first night, so I guess I can’t argue with the column.
Anyway… now that it’s over, I can say this was the best convention I’ve seen in many cycles, maybe the best since the days when the gatherings actually had a purpose, and did work and made decisions.
It had a big finish, with Joe doing a great job in his acceptance speech. I loved it from the start:
“I will draw on the best of us, not the worst.” Amen. It’s all we ask, Joe. You’ll give more than that, I know. But that alone would be enough…
— Brad Warthen (@BradWarthen) August 21, 2020
And I loved it at the end:
For Joe, that’s what it’s all about, and has been from the start: saving the soul of the country. He’s right. It’s why he’s got to win this. It’s why we’ve got to see that he does…
— Brad Warthen (@BradWarthen) August 21, 2020
But there was so much more. Like that amazingly brave kid talking about his and Joe’s stutters. This did so much, including shaming the idiots who try to attribute Joe’s occasional flubs to cognitive weakness. I honor that kid. The boy’s story of his interaction with Joe also caused one pundit to say something like (I can’t find the link right now; I read so much this morning), can you imagine Donald Trump making the effort to help a child? (See this update.)
Before that, there was the neat thing with all those former contenders simply talking about what a great guy Joe is. That was really nice. And what they said came across as more sincere, and certainly more relaxed, than the things they had said on the stump. I say that not to denigrate their candidacies, but to emphasize how real they seemed in talking about how and why people love Joe.
That got taken down a notch by Michael Bloomberg’s solo shtick. He didn’t say anything wrong; he’s just so awkward as a speaker.
The previous night had been a little flat, except for Barack Obama’s masterful speech. No, I wasn’t impressed by Kamala’s. Nothing wrong with it; there was just nothing great about it, either. Hillary Clinton was forgettable (which may be a good thing). But Obama lit up that dull night.
The ending, though, was great. There’s no way any rational, fair-minded person in America saw and heard the convention and came away from it wanting to do anything but get out and vote, immediately, for Joe Biden.
It’s a shame we have to wait so long. And endure such wretched stuff between now and then. I expect to be nauseated by this time next week.
Anyway, here’s Joe’s speech if you missed it:
Oh, I found that quote I tried to reference above. It’s from one of the opinion writers at the NYT, from their “best and worst moments” roundup this morning:
The guy who wrote it isn’t exactly on the staff at the NYT; he’s a contributor. It’s Will Wilkinson, from the Niskanen Center.
Sorry I didn’t have that link, or the exact quote, earlier…
Most inspirational speaker:
Well, we certainly agree that Obama had the best speech and Brayden was the most inspirational…
Joe did well. It’s what I expect from a President.
Even Fox News said it was a good speech which immediately caused me to second guess my own opinion. I never want to be on the same side as those nut jobs.
I linked above to the story about those two yahoos from St. Louis who waved their guns at people and are going to appear at the GOP convention, proving that the people in charge of the event are all too ready to parody their base. (Or, looked at another way, who else can they get to participate?)
Did you look at the picture? They probably imagine they are being menacing, but they look so ridiculous.
A couple of days ago while working out, I started rewatching Mel Brooks’ “Spaceballs.” I suddenly realized just now that the tubby guy with the pink shirt, too-long khakis, bare feet and “Look at me; I’m a soldier!” rifle reminds me a lot of Rick Moranis spoofing Darth Vader. Just make the helmet too big and the scary guy becomes a clown…
I heard that Steve Bannon was going to speak. I guess since we’re going virtual his jail cell background will be an appropriate backdrop for this gang of thugs.
That WOULD be apropos. But I imagine he already recorded his, before his arrest…
You say, “There’s no way any rational, fair-minded person in America saw and heard the convention and came away from it wanting to do anything but get out and vote, immediately, for Joe Biden.”
That explains Kathleen Parker’s typically clueless column. She was deeply offended by the emotionally manipulative Democrats and their sad convention, and Is not at all put off by the GOP showcasing that charming couple from St. Louis during theirs, which is sure to be a superior production.
Well… again, in defense of our neighbor Kathleen… she wrote that about the first night, which I missed. It was just bizarre seeing it in the paper Friday morning, and that threw me off.
Maybe she wouldn’t have written that a day or two later — which is when we learned about those ridiculous St. Louis people (I think; the story I linked to showed up midday Tuesday)…
I’m probably being extra defensive on Kathleen’s behalf because I, too, tend to take umbrage at “the emotionally manipulative Democrats” — and Republicans — at their conventions.
But I wasn’t reacting that way this time, because the dynamics of the whole thing — partisans feeding off each other — was missing from this event.
Which is what seemed deeply wrong with her column. And may still be wrong with it, if she still thinks those things, four days later…
It’s just such an AWFUL column, days later.
She particularly looks bad with all her speculation about what a bad job Joe would do in his acceptance speech — 180 degrees from what happened.
Making it that much more absurd that The State ran it for people to see on the morning after his excellent speech.
Yeah, I know they don’t care about the print product — which I only see because I look at the e-edition each morning. So why not share the Parker column online Tuesday morning, and then move on to fresh stuff. Why put something that outdated in the print product, which is bound to badly confuse people who still rely on that form?
I don’t understand it. Just as I don’t understand why I see stuff two and three days old. I get it that it’s going to be a DAY old, because their press times are so absurdly early now. But to run coverage of Wednesday night on the front page, many hours after everyone has absorbed Thursday night? It’s like they’ve decided, “We know anything we put in here will be completely off-topic, so who cares?”
On the edit page, we sometimes ran syndicated columns a day or two old — especially from the NYT, because they shared the stuff too late to run it live. (By contrast, we usually ran Washington Post the same day it appeared in that paper.) All of it should be that old now, with their early deadlines. But this old? Especially when they have so little space, and so many columns to choose from?
Sorry. I just violated my own rule against saying critical things about what the folks at The State do. I know they face unbelievable obstacles to publishing every day. I honor them for continuing the struggle.
It’s just that some days, I see things that DON’T have to happen because of those obstacles, and I’m bewildered…
The Post reported on the St. Louis couple at 8:30 pm Monday, but l’ll give Parker the benefit of the doubt, as she may have been too busy typing to keep up with the news. Her column was posted the next evening on the Wapo website. The State’s editorial page has been horrible for a while, but they have been outdoing themselves lately. Weak editorials, crummy op-eds and letters, bad editing and fact-checking. It looks lazy to me, but I don’t have your insights about internal constraints. I am still a subscriber, but it must be force of habit.
I had no idea that was reported so early!
In any case, not a great column. Everyone has an off day, I guess…
I really wish he would acknowledge that he still stutters. I think its a part of the identity he has built up for himself to think that he has mastered it and it seems hard for him to say that he still stutters. I’m not knocking at all the incredible work he has done to manage his fluency. It is phenomenal and impressive how fluent he is the majority of the time, and the fact that he chooses a career that requires so much public speaking is a testament to his incredible drive and character. Seriously, he is my hero in this area. I’m not kidding about that.
But it is the nature of the disorder that if you have a neurological predisposition to it, it is always there to some degree and is something you have to continually manage. There is no shame in being a stutterer who manages well most of the time but still stutters occasionally. And that is what is happening to my eye with his supposed gaffes. He now has ingrained mental habits to revise sentences on the fly, switch out words, and insert stock phrases like “look” or “the fact is” to extract himself from blocks or to avoid difficult words when he feels he might stutter. Avoiding words you know might stutter on can look like you can’t remember the word. And Trumpers are having a field day editing mash ups of these supposed moments of cognitive decline. If he would own it and tell people what is happening in those moments, it would go a long way to educate the world about the disorder, empower stutterers everywhere, and discount the theories of cognitive decline.
I’m hoping Trumpers zeroing in on this will backfire. I mean, I’m not sure they really want to provoke a close comparison of the language skills of the two men. Only one of them has been given a cognitive test that is only given when there is a concern about dementia being present. Biden’s verbal stumbles are completely cosmetic. Stuttering is a motor speech disorder not a language or cognitive disorder. He maintains his train of thought and maintains the topic of his narrative, even if he stumbles on a word or gropes for a rephrasing. Trump cannot maintain a coherent narrative; he wanders aimlessly from topic to topic; he does not answer on topic; he mispronounces words; his sentence structure or lack thereof is rambling and inconsistent, etc. His mispronunciations recently of Thailand and Yosemite are interesting. He read them completely phonetically as if he had no prior knowledge or experience with the accepted pronunciations of these proper noun place names. Neither of the two explanations I can think of for this are comforting. Is he so ignorant that he really doesn’t have prior knowledge of the correct pronunciation of these place names? Or has he had some kind of stroke that is affecting his ability to integrate his prior knowledge with his phonetic knowledge when reading?
In any case, I’m just not so sure Trump would come out looking so good if he wants to provoke close scrutiny of language skills. But it would help mark the contrast if Joe would acknowledge what is going on with his stuttering.
EXCELLENT discussion on the Michael Smerconish program this morning on the POTUS channel on Sirius radio.
He had Ron Brownstein on for a few minutes to talk about the changing demographics in the country and Trump’s reliance (and Republican) on a shrinking part of the electorate.
He stated the obvious, trump will do better the more divisive he can be.
This post is a bit stale but it just dawned on me that Al Gore didn’t speak at the convention. They found time for the incompetent Colin Powell, super conservative John Kasich but not the winner of the 2000 election. Shocking!
Uh-oh. Nobody told Bud who won the 2000 election. And Al himself would have told him that.
Yes, I know that’s another one of Bud’s “the electoral college is illegitimate” comments. But I couldn’t resist. 🙂
I won’t bother with his characterizations of Gen. Powell and Gov. Kasich. They were there for those of us who have high opinions of them and just might be persuadable — not for Bud…