On the first night of the Democratic National Convention, former First Lady Michelle Obama lived up to her billing as she laid out arguments to reject a second term of President Donald Trump and elect former Vice President Joe Biden to lead the nation.
“So, 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 in over his head. He cannot meet this moment,” she said.
The Democratic convention was scheduled to be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – a pivotal swing state in the 2016 and 2020 elections – but the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the in-person gathering. Instead, the convention’s first night was conducted as a virtual event with a combination of live and pre-recorded speeches, Zoom interactions with everyday citizens, and hosted by actress and activist Eva Longoria.
Other speakers for the evening included former Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, an Independent senator from Vermont; John Kasich, a GOP challenger to Trump in 2016 and the former governor of Ohio; Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democratic senator; and Corey Booker, a Democratic senator from New Jersey. Other Democrats included Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, and Alabama Sen. Doug Jones.
But Michelle Obama was the keynote speaker and her 14-minute takedown of Trump’s four years in office touched on race, leadership and empathy.
“Whenever we look to this White House for some leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division, and a total and utter lack of empathy,” Obama said. “Empathy. That’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. It is not a hard concept to grasp, it is what we teach our children.”
She said that Black Lives Matter is “still met with derision from the nation’s highest office” and that a presidential election “can reveal who we are.”
“You simply cannot fake your way through this job… If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election,” she said before reciting a litany of platitudes about Joe Biden, who served as Vice-president to her husband, Barack Obama.
WILLIAM HANSON RESPONDS
Talk Business & Politics will summarize highlights from the Democratic National Convention this week and the Republican National Convention next week. Each night, a prominent elected official or candidate will be asked for commentary and feedback on the evening’s events.
William Hanson, Fourth District Democratic Congressional nominee who is challenging U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, offered these observations on the first night of the convention.
TB&P: What was your reaction to Michelle Obama’s speech?
Hanson: As always, former First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to who we are and who can be as Americans. She is the best at articulating the values that are important to all of us regardless of race or party. In a measured tone and with precision, she drew a sharp contrast with where we were before Trump and now. She made a clear case for why Joe Biden and not Donald Trump is the leader we need in this difficult time.
TB&P: Was there another speaker that spoke to you in an unexpected way or good way? Who was it and what did they say?
Hanson: Amtrak workers who knew Vice President Biden. It was clear that character counts. Joe Biden cares about people. Also, Senator Bernie Sanders spoke to the urgency of the situation – economically and socially – that we are facing and the danger to democracy if President Trump is re-elected.
TB&P: What was better, what was worse about this experience than past conventions because of restrictions due to COVID-19?
Hanson: This was an excellent and efficient production. It involved a diverse group of speakers – everyday people as well as politicians – who spoke to me directly without being filtered through the perspectives of media commentators. Don’t get me wrong, I am a news junkie. Here, however, the DNC had greater control of the messaging. It was focused and refreshing.