About Last Night…

Long-time readers know I am not a fan of awards shows, often comparing them unfavorable to trade shows, and generally the worst trade shows of them all are our two political parties national conventions. The DNC and the RNC are traditionally a hold-over from another era where conventions really did matter and often did chose the standard bearer. It’s been a lifetime since then, and a format that had no function.

Anyway, now in the age of the Trump Virus, the assorted national conventions have finally evolved into a rather elaborate Zoom meeting, with all that that entails. This is a good thing; the Kabuki Theater aspect of the conventions lives on (everyone knows the outcome, it’s the performance that matters), but format and delivery finally leaves the old tropes behind. (Well, not all tropes: the little moppets from all the states and territories singing the national anthem and morphing into stars on the flag was right out of the playbook.)

What we were presented last night was an infomercial. A really well-done infomercial, complete with a comely narrator (Eva Longoria Bastón wearing symbolically important Suffragette white) and testimonials about the product and complaints about the other product. It is an improvement, and I’m going to tell you why:

We the people.

Last night’s effort featured not-slick testimonials from actual rank and file people who in previous DNCs would never, ever have been given screen time. Their messages were often presented live over Zoom, and they were definitely not staged or scripted; from doors opening (and slamming) to blurry phone cameras it covered the waterfront. Even the former Republican drinking bourbon from a double Old Fashioned glass, trying to hide it in his double-hand grip was a moment of authenticity heretofore unseen.

We knew that something different was happening when early in the program, George Floyd’s brothers, Philonise and Rodney Floyd, were introduced, spoke about their brother and asked for a moment of silence. I’ve never seen anything like that at any convention.  Handsome Joe’s widest margin over Hair Füror in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll is race relations — a 24 point spread. I don’t mean to be ham-handed, but there are significant differences between the parties, and I double-gawd dare the GOP to address this so eloquently.

(UPDATE: The WaPo –   “The St. Louis couple who became famous after wielding guns at protesters on their private street will be part of the largely digital Republican National Convention next week, Trump advisers said this week. The couple — Patricia and Mark McCloskey — will appear on behalf of the president during the virtual weeklong event and express their support for him, the officials said.” — I didn’t expect to have Claim Chowder until next week!)

Some testimonials were raw emotional appeals (Kristin Urquiza, a voter from Arizona), something we would never have seen in the old format:

“My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump — and for that he paid with his life.”

…and others were slickly produced and beautifully scripted and presented, probably none better than Michelle Obama’s speech:

“Let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”

It’s the denouement we wanted, and a long way from the days of when they go low, we go high. Times change.

Sure, there were the other politicians pontificating to an empty room, well-rehearsed, pre-recorded speeches designed to build to a crescendo with focus-group tested words. They fell flat compared to Urquiza’s genuine words. More, please.

So I’m here to plead may the conventional conventions be dead and buried, and may the new format conventions have a long run.

UPDATE 1: TBotP  email thingie-

YEP, IT FELT WEIRD — no doubt about it. The Democratic convention — which kicked off Monday night from peoples’ living rooms across America — was indeed strange. There were a lot of tweets asking what exactly we were watching. Interviews with regular people? Come on, people said.

NEWSFLASH, PLAYBOOK UNIVERSE: If you’re reading this newsletter, the likelihood is this convention is not aimed at you. You may think this whole thing is strange — Fine! It is! — but Democrats are probably not looking to please you. Here’s a good test: Have you thought one minute about whetherRep. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO CORTEZ (D-N.Y.) is getting slighted by only speaking for 60 seconds? If so, this convention is not aimed at entertaining you!

COMPLAIN ON TWITTER, or yell into a pillow — it’s up to you. The idea here is to create an echo chamber of people saying that DONALD TRUMP is unfit for office, and JOE BIDEN is the solution to the nation’s ills. As JONATHAN MARTIN and ALEX BURNS put it on the top of A1 of the Times, the program “spanned the gamut from socialists to Republicans, from the relatives of George Floyd to family members of those killed by coronavirus.”

THE POST — with seven bylines — put it this way: the convention showcased “dozens of testimonials that culminated in lancing criticism from former first lady Michelle Obama, who cast Trump as incapable of meeting America’s needs and said Joe Biden would usher in racial justice and ease the coronavirus pandemic.”


“The Democratic primary race began as a clash of ideas. But when the Democratic National Convention convened on Monday, the party assembled with a singular aim: defeating President Trump.

“From the progressive left to the moderate wing, Mr. Trump has served for months as the glue keeping the party from fracturing. And never has this détente been more obvious than in the wide-ranging lineup for the first night of the convention, when, in the name of unity, the virtual stage was open not just to Democrats of various persuasions but to Republicans as well.

“The festivities conveyed one message from the Democrats. Whatever their ideological differences with one another or the Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden Jr., ousting Mr. Trump was the primary concern.”

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9 Responses to About Last Night…

  1. spotthedog says:

    Re: Kristin Urquiza; it is inspiring to see an ordinary person who as the result of finding herself in an extraordinary unforeseen negative circumstance rise to the occasion with poise and eloquence, speaking truth. Good for her!

    Liked by 3 people

    • beckymaenot says:

      As someone who has relatives who listen to the twattwaffleinchief- I totally felt for Kristin- her grief was obvious as is her outrage. All around this country, lots and lots of voters who supported Dem candidates and saw Dolt45 for the cancer he is, have watched in horror, worrying away countless hours in fear for the health of their Dolt45 following loved ones. Where we might have sent Trump Supporting friends and acquaintances out of the air-lock, we still love granny and Nana and Pop-pop- even thought Fox News is their main source of info. And we are saddened and tortured by their needless deaths because they believed the Trump Corona Virus lies. I finally got through to one such relative by asking- “hey, if it’s no big deal- then why is it that every person who meets with Trump has to be tested?” It finally dawned on them that it is a real threat-and now they are taking better care of themselves. How many other Kristins are there out there?

      Liked by 4 people

  2. sos says:

    Re: Michelle Obama; I’m pretty sure she said: “When they go low, you can stomp a mud hole in them.”

    At least that was hat I took away from it. I mean they’re down there anyway, right?

    Liked by 4 people

    • tengrain says:

      As my friends at First Draft said, “when they go low, we go high. Snipers always choose high ground.” — or words to that effect.



      Liked by 4 people

  3. Dennis Cole says:

    Can someone help me out, here? I’m trying to determine which anatomical part of the this beast I comprise, with my my deeply-held beliefs, and hopes, dreams, and aspirations for a Better America, rather than the Bitter one we currently inhabit?
    Like, am I a “Lefty-librul Progressive,” for wanting UHC, and a big raise in the minimum wage, along with de-militarizing the Police, and addressing Social Injustices such as Racism and income inequality? Because to me, most of my life, they just seemed normal, as in who wouldn’t want these nice things? Which I believed made me more of a Moderate, eschewing the really radical ideologies, like a Guaranteed Income, and world-changing reforms to Education, like providing every child in America with a laptop and hi-speed Internet

    Oh, wait……..they are already doing that, and those, and much more in other countries, so we’d be joining the rest of the world, and not changing it. My mistake.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Can someone help me out, here? I’m trying to determine which anatomical part of the this beast I comprise

      I prefer Paul Wellstone’s version: “I’m a Democrat from the Democratic wing of the Party!”

      (and sorry for the downvote, dum fingers clicked on it trying to copy your text)

      Liked by 2 people

  4. MDavis says:

    I noticed Kristin’s “shifty eyes” (wait for it, someone will mention it when they get over being butt hurt over Michelle’s speech – so maybe never as some people never get over anything) and I’m pretty sure, esp. since this was a really important speech for her, that she had her cue cards set up where she could just look up and glance at them as she presented her “remarks”.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. roket says:

    You know, whenever you have a party whose members have ideological differences with one another, that’s a sign the group is diverse. In contrast, whenever you have a party who shields, protects and supports a batshit crazy narcissist, that’s a sign the group is also batshit crazy Ayn Rand selfish ass narcissists. That is what it is.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. paul fredine says:

    i watched the first night (can’t say i’ll watch much more after a boring night 2, with the exception of barack and the two acceptance speeches) and my takeaway is this: without all the screaming crowds and panning shots of crowds waving signs, one was forced to actually listen to (and hear with the distracting background din) the words from the speakers, whether scripted or ad-lib (not dismissing their heart-felt message) and sometimes a tad over-produced (think john kasich, or even michelle. why all the shifting camera angles?).


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