By Jay Barth
on Fri, Jul 29, 2016 at 9:33 AM
Most reading this watched the final night of the Democratic National Convention yesterday and have watched many more hours of analysis of Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech and the other events of the evening, so I will avoid too many more words on what was a crisply delivered speech. Yes, it could have included more poetry: There will be few, if any, lines that are remembered a generation from now such as “I still believe in a place called Hope” or “Let us resolve to build that bridge to the 21st century” from her husband’s 1992 and 1996 convention speeches, respectively. Still, the speech — and the entire program of the convention’s final evening — was meant to expand the tent of Clinton’s Democratic Party to those most concerned about America’s role in the world in a dangerous time and those most distressed by the nation’s growing inequality and economic unfairness. It appears to have accomplished those goals well.
After several hours of lower-key speeches, two very different speeches truly moved the audience in the hall: a rousing speech by North Carolina preacher and civil rights leader William Barber II and the quietly impassioned lecture of Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim soldier killed in battle in Iraq.
The Khan speech — in which he pulled a worn U.S. Constitution from his pocket to wave at GOP nominee Donald Trump in response to Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country — is being played on loop on cable television and likely is the moment of the convention that will be most remembered for its unexpectedness and potency. It knocked back the thousands in the room just as it worked incredibly well on television.
A few more observations on the final evening:
—The hall was packed to the gills. It was almost impossible to find a seat five hours before Clinton’s speech. There was a real sense that history was happening. The historical nature of the Clinton candidacy provides an important jolt for a candidate who has distinct personal challenges and lacks the ability to inspire on a regular basis. During the week, the moments where the historical nature of her success was celebrated brought tremendous energy to the room and seems to have moved folks across the nation.
—In stark contrast to the Republican Convention last week, the event was managed expertly. It was great political theater — from the order of speeches, to the management of the clock for primetime viewership, to the videos, to the musical acts, to the signs and flags. Moreover, because of the continued agitation of a few hundred Bernie Sanders delegates and the sheer length of the program (seven hours per day with hundreds of speakers), it was a tough convention to manage well. Decades from now, it will be compared to the 2004 Republican Convention as a piece of truly masterful political stagecraft.
—The legitimate drama produced by the Sanders campaign’s role in the convention amped up the volume to Clinton’s benefit. It’s fair to say that the more establishment Clinton delegates arrived in Philadelphia a bit subdued. The immediate sense on Monday afternoon that the Sanders folks were loud and still not willing to give up, inspired the Clinton delegates to respond to that Sanders energy with energy of their own. On the last night, in particular, it created a real tension in the room as it was unclear exactly where and when a Sanders mini-demonstration might break out. The now overwhelmingly pro-Clinton crowd (which had been joined by more mainstream Sanders delegates) fought back loudly whenever the protests started; they were energized by the critics in the room. And, it created a moment right out of the GOP’s 2004 convention during Gen. John Allen's energetic speech as Democratic delegates and guests responded to those tied to the military with loud chants of "U-S-A." It wasn’t the Democratic Party of my youth, but it was incredibly strong for reinforcing the party’s national security credentials.
Up next: The key next rounds of opinion polling mid-week next week. That will tell us how much of a bounce the Democratic nominee received from a convention that most think worked incredibly well in terms of casting a well-known nominee in new light.
I’m at the airport in Philadelphia about to jet away. Here’s one piece I did for another publication on the role of “love” at DNC 2016.
I am frustrated and angry with those who claim the only chance of future success is for the Democratic Party, especially in the South and Midwest, to abandon speaking directly to women and people of color and the LGBT community and instead focus on the economy and other "more comfortable" topics in order to win back some of the center. /more/
Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report has the latest numbers: Hillary Clinton's lead in the popular vote is now 2.7 million, giving her a 2 point advantage over Donald Trump (for all the good that does!). /more/
The Bro./Sen. Rapert has his panties in a wad over the fact that Little Rock's airport is named for Bill and Hillary Clinton, according to his morning Tweet. I guess he should head on over to the Little Rock Airport Commission and warn them the Ledge is about to take it over. /more/
After the labor movement helped elect David Pryor, Dale Bumpers and Bill Clinton early in their careers, the three politicians took aggressive anti-union positions, Michael Pierce, an associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas, writes in a recent piece on The Labor and Working-Class History Association's Labor Online website. Pierce sees a connection between Clinton's early work against 1978's Labor Reform Bill (for the Pryor campaign), his later pro-business policies as governor and president and Hillary Clinton's struggles with working class whites. /more/
I recently wandered back to "Master of the Senate," the third volume of Robert A. Caro's massive history of Lyndon Johnson. The book, on Johnson's years in the U.S. Senate, highlights the lingering power of the Senate to meet the challenges facing the country and to stand up to existential threats facing American democratic institutions.
Donald Trump's historic success with white evangelical voters (with about four in five of their votes, according to exit polls, he met the high-water mark for GOP candidates in the modern era) was one of the keys to his narrow Electoral College victory.
Betsey Wright, former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff when he was Arkansas governor, responds bitterly to a New York Times article today quoting Whitewater Prosecutor Kenneth Starr's warm words about Clinton. She can't forget the lives Starr ruined in Arkansas.
With a healthy number of unhappy school district residents on hand, Little Rock School Superintendent Michael Poore announced today his plans for closure of school facilities said to be required to balance the budget as state desegregation aid ends and enrollment drops with movement of students to charter and other schools.
Little Rock School Superintendent Michael Poore has announced he will "share plans" this afternoon to discuss facilities and budget — meaning which schools he'll recommend for closing and where the budget will be cut. Advocates for voter control of the school district aren't happy.
Republican Rep. Mary Bentley got House Public Health Committee approval today for her HB 1035 to prevent use of food stamps for purchase of unhealthy food, a measure likely to prevent use of the supplemental nutrition benefit for soft drinks, candy and the like.