Grades for the 2016 Democratic Convention speeches
PHILADELPHIA, July 29, 2016 — The Democrats have decamped from Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Arena, leaving behind their trash, confetti and despondent Sandernistas. Aside from that, we have only memories of their speeches.
Were they any good? Judging a speech is not about partisanship. The main criterion of a good political speech is whether it persuades average voters at home.
The media are unreliable judges; their legs are too easily tingled by liberal ideology, and their elite status keeps them insulated from ordinary Americans.
Bypassing the distorting and biased media filter, let’s look at the good, the bad and the execrable. Here are the letter grades for the speakers at the 2016 Democratic Convention.
Vice President Joe Biden: Biden has gone from plagiarizing bumbler to beloved elder statesman. He followed up his spectacular, heartfelt 2012 convention speech with an equally beautiful effort this year.
His personal pain gives him a genuine empathy for others and shows us human depths we often miss in politicians. When he combines that with humor, often self-deprecating, he is just as likable as it gets.
President Bill Clinton: Clinton, nicknamed the “Big Dog,” is the greatest orator Democrats have had in a generation. However, time has take its toll. He is older, more tired and much better at making the case for himself than others.
His 2012 speech on behalf of President Obama was quite good. His 1988 speech for Michael Dukakis was his worst. While trying to humanize Hillary Clinton, he laughably asserted that she was a change agent rather than the status quo.
First Lady Michelle Obama: While she knows how to rev up a crowd, Mrs. Obama spends far too much time complaining. Americans at home are unimpressed by a woman with that much power and privilege complaining about her country.
This time she toned down the anger and tried her best to keep it positive. She even managed to show her love of America, which she did not do in past convention speeches.
President Barack Obama: He will never again reach the soaring rhetoric of his 2004 speech. His idealism is gone. He has been reduced to accusing political enemies of the very cynicism that has engulfed him.
He repeatedly forgot that his speech was supposed to be about Hillary Clinton. He spent too much time talking about himself, because he just does that. By insisting on wrapping up Wednesday night, which he will deny, he reduced vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine to irrelevance.
Governor Tim Kaine: Before the convention started, virtually nobody knew who Kaine was. After the convention was over, virtually nobody knew who he was.
The third night of the convention has always been reserved for the vice presidential nominee as the closer. Sandwiched between Biden and Obama, Kaine never stood a chance. His mockery of Donald Trump’s speech patterns came across as childish. His lapse into Spanish came across as pandering.
As for the content of his speech, it would be difficult for voters at home to quote a single line he said. He came across as a boring, nondescript guy. This is because he is one.
Chelsea Clinton: She came across as Ivanka Trump without the substance. She was closer to Tiffany Trump, but Tiffany Trump is barely out of college. Chelsea is a grown, married adult, and her speech was substance-less fluff: Her daughter likes blueberries and choo-choo trains.
Chelsea’s attempt at humanizing her mother failed because Chelsea comes across as just as ice cold.
She is all mom and no Bubba. Americans at home are uninterested in hearing from what they see as an over-privileged dilettante. Ivanka Trump works hard. Nobody knows what Chelsea does, resulting in a lack of interest in what she says.
Hillary Clinton: She screams. When she is not screaming, she is yelling. When she is not yelling, she is shouting. In 40 years, she has never figured out how to give a joyful speech. She is perpetually angry, and spent much of her one hour on stage scowling.
She alternated between mild anger and outright rage.
She played to the delegates in the room rather than the wider audience at home. She kept emphasizing that Americans must come together. Her tone and expressions showed a woman who wants to rip out the throats of anyone who disagrees with her.
If her goal was to show her warmer side, then she wasted three days of effort by her surrogates. Sen. Elizabeth Warren could have given her speech, which is not good for somebody trying to reach out to Regular America.
Screaming about optimism is not optimism. It is just screaming. Plagiarizing a quote frequently attributed to French thinker Alexis de Tocqueville did not help matters.
Lena Dunham/Katy Perry: There is no reason for these women to ever speak about anything, anywhere, at any time. For those wondering why an entire generation of Millennials are seen as vapid airheads, look no further than these twin, tweeting twits. They may not have invented nonsense, but they perfected it.
Voters at home do not care what Katy Perry has to say about gun control. They are not interested in Lena Dunham’s warped version of feminism. Time is precious, and every moment at the Democratic Convention used by these two giggling girls is time that could have been given to real speakers.
Obama has devastated the Democratic farm team, and Hillary should have given rising political stars a chance rather than waste it on a pair of celebrities with nothing to say.