DNC Recap: Dynamite or Debacle?

Robert Brooks Contributor
DNC Recap: Dynamite or Debacle?
Read Time: approx. 3:19

This is the top story from our daily newsletter published on August 21, 2020. To have this and more delivered directly to your inbox scroll down and enter your email or click here to sign up.

DNC Recap: Dynamite or Debacle? This past week the news cycle has largely been driven by the Democratic National Convention. The event is meant to be an occasion to make the nominations for president and vice president official as well as explain the party’s platform. Monday and Tuesday night highlighted speeches from Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders, John Kasich, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Jill Biden. On Wednesday the all virtual affair featured Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Harris, vice-presidential nominee, and Former President Barack Obama. Last night, America heard from Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Former Vice President Biden as he formally accepted the party’s nomination. Here’s how both sides reacted to the convention:

On the Left: Left-leaning outlets and commentators were initially concerned about the format given the remote nature of the convention, but on the whole it’s largely been branded as a success. From a policy standpoint, moderates appear to have control of the party, at least publicly. Andrew Prokop of Vox said “[Although] Sen. Bernie Sanders supports the platform, it’s certainly not the agenda of the left’s dreams. There’s no endorsement of Medicare-for-all, no call to defund the police, no call to abolish ICE, no call to ban fracking, no support for legalizing marijuana nationwide, and no backing of free college for all. So hundreds of Sanders delegates decided to vote no on the platform in a symbolic protest.” With that said, even Prokop acknowledges that “it’s hard to characterize this platform as moderate — because it calls for doing a whole lot of stuff. Over the course of 92 dense pages, there are hundreds of liberal policy proposals or commitments.” Plainly stated, this means that just because speakers at the DNC didn’t mention the items above, it doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten about the progressive pillars of their platform. From an optics standpoint, the two most talked about speeches came from Michelle and Barack Obama. This is unsurprising, but also notable for a few reasons. In regards to Michelle’s speech President Trump said, “She taped it. And it was not only taped, it was taped a long time ago, because she had the wrong deaths.” Chris Cillizza of CNN says, “Think of what Trump is saying here: Michelle Obama really screwed up her speech because she said 150,000 Americans had died from coronavirus when, in fact, that number is now well over 170,000.” Cillizza says, “if you read Trump’s attempt to denigrate Obama closely, you see that in trying to diss the former first lady, he dissed himself” by pointing out “the fact that 20,000 more Americans have since died from COVID-19 under [his] watch.” If there were any bones to pick with how the DNC unfolded, some commentators on the left think Democrats didn’t give enough time to the party’s rising stars. So, for example, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez only got a 90 second slot. John Kasich, a Republican, then criticized her in an interview for Buzzfeed News saying, just because she “gets outsized publicity doesn’t mean she represents the Democratic Party.” Ocasio-Cortez then tweeted, “It’s great that Kasich has woken up & realized the importance of supporting a Biden-Harris ticket. I hope he gets through to GOP voters. Yet also, something tells me a Republican who fights against women’s rights doesn’t get to say who is or isn’t representative of the Dem party.” In conclusion, Spencer Bokat-Lindell wrote for the New York Times’ opinion section that “In truth, no one has more influence over how the Democratic Party defines itself now than Donald Trump.”

On the Right: Right leaning outlets and commentators were less thrilled about the convention. Writing for the New York Post, Michael Goodwin asks, “What do Democrats stand for and, more to the point, what are they promising voters if they gain the White House?” Goodwin says besides the fact that they think Donald Trump is “bad… really really bad,” there wasn’t much substance from a policy perspective. (Fox News’ Sean Hanity classified the left’s repulsiveness to Trump as a “cult of hatred” for what it’s worth.) Goodwin says, “once again, they failed to address the violence erupting across the country, as if it isn’t happening. Or maybe they are afraid to criticize it because it will somehow come off as pro-police, which would infuriate the Black Lives Matter movement the party is embracing.” Jim Geraghty echoes Goodwin’s sentiment in the National Review saying, “The country depicted by the Democrats during the convention is a cheerful America, free of racial tensions — the smiling faces are diverse, but everyone is getting along. Cops and African Americans engage each other with trust and goodwill. Businessmen of all sizes and environmental activists have no discernable disagreements. Urban gun-control activists and rural gun owners see eye to eye. Tax revenue will be so abundant, everyone will get what they want from government, and we will all live happily ever after. It’s an America where everyone seems to get along a lot better, in part because political and ideological divisions have disappeared. It’s a happy, happy myth. You can’t really blame the party for trying to sell that image, but you can blame the electorate if they buy into it.” Another instance where the right criticized the left for being out of touch with reality is during New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s speech. Hugo Gurdon of the Washington Examiner says, “He lectured the convention about his heroic leadership tackling the coronavirus pandemic [and] hammered President Trump, saying voters learned a ‘critical lesson’ about ‘how many lives can be lost when our government is incompetent.” However, Gurdon says Cuomo forgot to mention how the New York governor “made his state a cardinal case of government incompetence. [Cuomo] stopped nursing homes refusing admission to people infected with COVID-19. Carriers were thus housed among the elderly, for whom COVID-19 was most likely to be fatal. There were at least 6,400 deaths linked to the disease in New York nursing homes. That’s also an undercount due to Cuomo’s math chicanery.” In conclusion, the right thought the DNC’s convention was a classic display of “hypocritical” “bicoastal elites” being out of touch with reality, preaching a disjointed platform.

Flag This: So, was there any middle ground? Were there any moments during the convention where both sides agreed on something? Actually yes, there were. Both the right and left thought that Jill and Joe Biden’s speeches were winners.

  • Starting with JillFox News senior political analyst Brit Hume said Tuesday that the “speech by Jill Biden was tremendously effective, in the sense that it didn’t have the hard, angry edge that we heard to a considerable extent from Michelle Obama.” Hume said Biden’s speech, delivered via video from Brandywine High School in New Castle County, Del., highlighted good things about the nominee’s “character and temperament.” Speaking about Joe Biden, Hume said, “He’s a very decent guy, a nice guy, he’s not an unforgiving guy and the strength that he showed recovering from the tragedies he’s had in his life is a meaningful quality.” On Twitter, Fox News analyst Guy Benson said, ‘Jill Biden seems delightful. What a lovely speech.” Even conservative commentator, Ben Shapiro chimed in as well saying, “Honestly, this Jill Biden pitch is the best pitch for Biden. And perhaps the only pitch for Biden. She’s doing a really good job with this.”
  • Finishing with Joe: Then last night, “Joe Biden accepted the Democratic presidential nomination with a vow to be a unifying ‘ally of the light’ who would move an America in crisis past the chaos of President Donald Trump’s tenure,” according to the Associated Press. As The Week points out, “Biden’s presidential nomination acceptance speech is being hailed as a career best, even by his critics. And perhaps no praise was more surprising on Thursday night than that being directed at him on Fox News. Anchor Chris Wallace, who previously panned Kamala Harris’ vice presidential nomination speech, called Biden’s big moment “enormously effective.” “Remember, Donald Trump has been talking for months about Joe Biden as mentally shot,” Wallace went on. He added, “I thought that he blew a hole — a big hole — in that characterization. … Trump is gonna have to run against a candidate, not a caricature.” With that said, The Blaze wrote that just because Biden spoke about ‘light,’ ‘hope,’ and ‘love’ it doesn’t mean it was a good speech. In fact, the right-leaning outlet thinks it was an empty monologue because he didn’t offer any policy specifics. The Blaze called the speech a “whole lot of nothing” and Fox News’ host Laura Ingraham argued Thursday that the Democratic party ‘has learned nothing since 2016.’ Ingraham says, “to answer Trump’s popular appeal, they’ve nominated a guy who first ran for president 33 years ago. A guy who’s been hanging around Washington since the early ’70s; a man who — grandfatherly appeal notwithstanding — epitomizes the word swamp.”

In terms of eyeballs, “Television viewership of the first night of the virtual convention was down about 25% from the equivalent night in 2016. On the second night the figure was 48% lower than the same night four years ago. Even these stats were subject to different interpretations. On the right, The Federalist poked fun at this precipitous drop saying that “even though many Americans are subject to government restrictions keeping them cooped up at home far more this year,” viewership was way down. On the left, CNN cited “Democratic officials who said digital tune-in was up, reflecting a years-long shift in viewing habits.” It will be interesting to see which aspect, if any, the Democrats keep for the next DNC in 2024. Stripping away the political commentary and agenda, the nationwide roll-call was pretty cool in the sense that it highlighted what an absolutely amazing country we live in. It’s something that gets lost in the sauce during these things and something that we urge our readers to never forget. Despite our differences and despite our faults we’re still so lucky to call so many places home, from California to the New York Island, and everywhere in between.