Even the asinine hats worn by gum-chomping delegates and the stage-crafted slickness of the final act of the Democrats’ nomination extravaganza could not dim the glare of their greatest star; youthful, charismatic, and confident of success against the lamest ticket run by a major party in recent history, the night belonged to Barack Obama.
Former Arizona Representative Gabrielle Gifford, still recovering from the gunshot wound to her head, led the convention in the Pledge of Allegiance with inspiring determination and grace. The admiration of conventioneers and millions of viewers across all forms of social media was palpable. Indeed, the surprise visit made headlines around the world.
But the last day of the convention was mostly filled with verbal fireworks from politicos whom, unlike the blinding whiteness of the R.N.C. the week prior, actually look like a tapestry of true America.
We haven’t seen such hollering, kicking, and air-punching since Lindsay Lohan at last-call on Saint Patrick’s Day. If former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm isn’t passed out in her own sick by now, it can only mean she’s still awake from last night doing Scope shots and high-fiving unsuspecting washroom attendants. Granholm defended the auto bailout with such combustible enthusiasm she nearly dislocated her shoulder while whipping the conventioneers into a virtual frenzy. We don’t know if Granholm had been drinking but we’d love nothing more that to see her host her own open-bar talk show.
Beau Biden officially introduced his father, which left the vice president wiping away tears as his son spoke:
“In moments both public and private, he is the father I’ve always known, the grandfather my children love, and the vice president our nation needs. So tonight, it is my great honor to place into nomination for the office of vice president the name of my father, my hero, Joe Biden.”
Some guy from a state called Montana came out wearing a bolo-tie.
And then the obverse of the twenty-dollar bill, former presidential hopeful and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, marched out to the podium. And while his cringe-worthy sound bite, “I am John Kerry, and I am reporting for duty,” still rang in our ears like trapped cicadas, the senator delivered some of the most stinging lines of the entire evening. Perhaps he followed Governor Deval Patrick’s advice and grew a backbone. Here, are his top three zingers:
3. “It isn’t fair to say Mitt Romney doesn’t have a position on Afghanistan. He has every position…. Mr. Romney, here’s a little advice: Before you debate Barack Obama on foreign policy, you better finish the debate with yourself.”
2. “Folks, Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska. Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching ‘Rocky IV.’”
1. “Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago.”
Florida’s former Governor (and former Republican) Charlie Crist turncoated his way though a speech that explained why he recently declared himself an Independent, “I didn’t leave the Republican Party; it left me,” he said. Apparently, more words came out of his mouth but his mesmerizing face, which looked a slice of overcooked Canadian bacon, left us all distracted and just dying for a plate of eggs Benedict.
Those who were champing at the bit and poised to scavenge for gaffe scraps from Vice President Joe Biden were sadly disappointed. After the requisite heartwarming (and heartbreaking) backstory the second-in-command trotted out such bon mots as memes are made of, as he described the president’s position as commander-in-chief during the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan:
“…if you attack innocent Americans, we will follow you to the ends of the earth. Most of all, the president had faith in our special forces — the finest warriors the world has ever known.
We sat for days in the Situation Room. He listened to the risks and reservations about the raid. And he asked the tough questions. But when Admiral McRaven looked him in the eye and said, “Sir, we can get this done,” I knew at that moment Barack had made his decision. His response was decisive. He said ‘Do it.’ And justice was done.
But Governor Romney didn’t see things that way. When he was asked about bin Laden in 2007, he said, and I quote, ‘…it’s not worth moving heaven and earth, and spending billions of dollars, just trying to catch one person.’
He was wrong. If you understood that America’s heart had to be healed, you would have done exactly what the president did. And you too would have moved heaven and earth–to hunt down Bin Laden, and bring him to justice.Four years ago, when my mom was still with us, sitting in the stadium in Denver, I quoted one of her favorite expressions. She used to say, ‘Joey, bravery resides in every heart, and the time will come when it must be summoned.’
Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m here to tell you, bravery resides in the heart of Barack Obama. And time and time again, I witnessed him summon it. This man has courage in his soul, compassion in his heart, and steel in his spine. And because of all the actions he took, because of the calls he made–and because of the grit and determination of American workers–and the unparalleled bravery of our special forces–we can now proudly say — Osama Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.”
And finally every pundit, who for the twenty-four hours had been slobbering all over themselves asking if “President Obama could possibly top President Bill Clinton’s speech” the night prior, could shut their rhetorical pie holes.
While the speech was at times nearly sobering enough to dry out Governor Jennifer Granholm, Obama did not disappoint: with his usual rousing oratorical flourishes he recounted his accomplishments, appealed to the nation’s optimism, and slammed the Republicans from every angle.
The president, making a point of questioning the competence of both Mitt and his running mate, spoke of the team’s lack of experience in foreign policy, saying that the duo wanted, “to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly.”
Then, citing Romney’s belief that Russia is still the United States’ greatest enemy, as well as the governor’s recent public criticism while in London that the British were ill-prepared for the Olympics said:
“After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy — not al Qaeda: Russia — unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War mind warp. You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.”
And touting his administrations accomplishments, Obama summed up his promises and on what he delivered:
“You know, in a world of new threats and new challenges, you can choose leadership that has been tested and proven. Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did. I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. And we have. We’ve blunted the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over. A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead.”
One of the snap-worthiest lines of the evening attacked the G.O.P.’s traditional fiscal plans:
“They [Republicans] want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan. And that’s because all they have to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last thirty years: ‘Have a surplus? Try a tax cut.’ ‘Deficit too high? Try another.’ ‘Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!’”
But Glittersnipe’s favorite moment was so important we created a sharable graphic — it was President Obama at his best: progressive, eloquent, and tough.
*Additional reporting by Alan Winokur and Patti Jackson