Monday, August 17, 2020

Democrats, day 1

A political convention made up entirely of live feeds and video clips turns out not to feel all that different from one taking place in a big hall, mostly because the same kind of speeches were being made. At the cost of a few glitches in the feed, we avoided all the pfumpfing between speakers that you normally get, and were able to add things like torrents of clips from cell phone videos of ordinary people saying a few words (for one of which they were all Republicans for Biden - a nice touch). The speakers didn't seem fazed by the absence of applause after their applause lines, and a few of the speeches were punctuated by being followed by screen shots full of ordinary people applauding (or, occasionally, not applauding - rather weird).

There was an MC, but Bernie Sanders wasn't introduced: he just appeared, almost unrecognizable in a natty blue suit and a fresh haircut, to talk about policy specifics. His best laugh line: "Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Trump golfs." Michelle Obama talked about public values and empathy. She didn't say, "This is not who we are," she said "This is not who we want to be," which has the advantage of being more accurate. Her best line: "Being President doesn't change who you are. It reveals who you are," which of course took my thoughts back to Lord Acton and to the more perceptive Anglo-Saxon proverbs cited by Tom Shippey.

I was pleased by the small phalanx of black woman officeholders who appeared near the beginning, by the intercut group testimonials to Biden by some of his primary opponents (no Buttigieg, which was a surprise, and no Gabbard, which wasn't), and particularly the section on Covid. Andrew Cuomo, whom I hadn't seen speak before, had an echo of his father's lofty eloquence, but the real star, the Khizr Khan of the evening, was a young woman named Kristin Urquiza, who delivered a fiery account of how her father, a Trump supporter, believed it when the Republicans said it was OK to go out and socialize, went out and socialized, and promptly contacted the virus and died. Most fiery line: "His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that he paid with his life." Wow.

A couple musical interludes. Maggie Rogers sang a dull song, but did so in the mannered folksinger style that I enjoy. Billy Porter sort of lost his way near the end of "For What It's Worth" (a highly relevant song today, since it's about cops breaking up a peaceful demonstration), but it was mostly OK.

One thing that did nag at me was the repeated declarations that Biden would unite us, while Trump only divides us. That may be true, but the last candidate to say, "I'm a uniter, not a divider," was George W. Bush, and remember what happened to him. I'd rather not be reminded.

No comments:

Post a Comment