The "We the People"-themed Democratic National Convention, like the Republican one to follow, shows us what America has known for years: that conventions are only infomercials designed to bend reality to political will.
The Democrats bend their reality toward a referendum on President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus, but they bend it away from any mention of growing violence in American big cities run by liberal Democratic administrations.
As I keep telling you, when you hear politicians talking, pay attention to what isn't said. Train your eye to see the negative space between the dancers, because that, too, is often the story.
Urban violence threatens the peace of targeted Democratic suburban voters, like those soccer moms who've just installed police scanner apps on their cellphones. Trump is taking advantage of this, but he didn't create it. What America is witnessing in cities like Portland, Seattle, Chicago and New York is a clash between the hard left and the liberal Democratic mayors who lead those cities.
And this Democratic infomercial is all about the swing vote, if there is such a thing, in battleground states, like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Naturally, Democrats accentuate the positive.
Yet as the DNC infomercial makes plain, this new left Democratic Party of 2020 sees only two types: The Oppressed and The Oppressors, a formula that invariably leads to rising conflict and anger that can't be covered over with virtual kindness and virtual empathy.
Former first lady Michelle Obama was the star of the first night, one of the most admired women in America, delivering a stylistically superb speech while sitting down, addressing the nation as a stern yet loving mom, reminding us who has empathy (Democrats) and who in her mind does not (Trump).
The media swooned over her, but then, did you really expect anything other than media swooning? Nevertheless, she gave a fantastic speech, going high on empathy and going low with evisceration of the opponent, though it was taped days before, too early for her to mention Sen. Kamala Harris, the California Democrat, as Joe Biden's vice presidential running mate.
"If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can," Michelle Obama said. "If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it."
How true. I'm certain that many in the Obama camp feel that way, especially now. Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith has agreed to plead guilty to the charge he falsified documents to justify continued surveillance of Trump campaign aide Carter Page. And Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham continues his investigation of the Obama administration's alleged political spying on Trump.
Though much of the Washington Beltway media aren't all that interested -- including journalists who won Pulitzers for covering the Democratic Russia collusion theory that fizzled -- the Justice Department seems interested enough.
Sen. Bernie Sanders offered the only moment of real clarity. He condemned Trump for authoritarianism, an odd choice for Sanders, who honeymooned in Soviet-run Moscow, enjoying state-sponsored puppet shows. But he did say that his socialist agenda finally bent establishment Democrats to its will.
"Ideas that were once considered radical only a few years ago are now considered mainstream," Sanders said, applying air quotes around "radical."
Ideas like virtually open borders, free college, the defunding or "reimagining" of police. All of it is predicated on The Big Rock Candy Mountain School of Economics, where all good things flow freely, like the lemonade springs in the Pete Seeger song, without economic consequence.
The challenges for the Democrats in this convention are profound, delivering what are usually rousing, galvanizing speeches to empty rooms. The format provides for little energy, and except for Obama and Sanders, seemed rather like Melatonin TV.
In praising their presidential candidate, Joe Biden, the speakers appeared to drone on and on, from the Google lobbyist to former Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, filmed while standing at a country crossroads, alone.
Kasich, the man without a party, seemed lost at the crossroads, like a character in the old "Twilight Zone." I kept waiting for Rod Serling and a cigarette, or Kasich asking Satan to teach him to play this here guitar. But Kasich didn't have a guitar. He just brought himself. And that wasn't enough.
Republican critics predictably ripped the Democratic convention, but I'm not so sure it was as bad as they said. The Democratic presentations were somber, not packed with energy, but they didn't have to be. The Democrats aren't appealing to Trump's base. They're targeting suburban voters in swing states. Their convention is designed to give those voters a comfortable place to call home in what is shaping up to be a close election. They don't respond well to Trumptastic bombast, something Trump can't grasp.
My only quibble is that the DNC telethon missed a chance to invite one particularly strong woman of color to address the violent big-city elephant in the room.
Carmen Best just resigned as police chief in Seattle, another casualty of the Democratic defunding of police.
"I'm done," Best explained, as she ended her 28-year career.
At the outset of the first night of the convention, moderator Eva Longoria, star of "Desperate Housewives," explained to viewers that, "You are the we, in 'we the people.'"
But if you disagree with the Democrats, are you still of "the people"? Or are you some nonhuman, to be tossed into limbo or the basket of deplorables?
We'll see. That's what this election is about.
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