The Democratic Convention, from beginning to end, looked more like a Republican convention. That’s a compliment. In the recent past, GOP conventions were always better produced and more message-consistent.
Not this year.
The Democratic convention planners used the first three days of the convention to lay a foundation for Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech — bring together the Clinton and Sanders camps as best they could, lay out her compassionate and competency, put Donald Trump in a bad light using his own words, use “ordinary” people (who really were extraordinary people) to lay out her humanity and his inhumanity, and top it with a Hillary speech pretending not to be what she isn’t, but clarifying what she is.
It was a success. I haven’t seen any polls but I’m guessing she gets a better than decent bounce from the convention which will keep this race leaning toward her at least until the debates which, if Trump participates (and I’m guessing he’s looking for ways to get out of them), she should do quite well in.
She put out two lines of attack we’ll being hearing more in the next weeks:
- “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”
- “The service part has always come easier to me than the public part. I get it that some people don’t know what to make of me.”
Those two lines were effective last night and will continue to be effective. The first reinforces his simple mindedness; the second focuses on her competence as a way to build her trustworthiness. A combination of goals that, if achieved, wins her the election.
And, through the convention’s messaging and her well-crafted speech, she reinforced those points, glossing over the fact that polls show she is not perceived as trustworthy and knowing that’s a hard knock to get past in one night. Laying out her competency — as opposed to Trump’s knee-jerk and often childish policies and approaches and focusing on himself — is a good way to set up her campaign. We know he will give more examples of his unreadiness to be president. If she can keep showing competence, she can cut into that untrustworthy perception.
There were other stars last night whose names will fade but whose messages on the stage will not.
- Khzir Khan, the Muslim-American whose son was killed in Afghanistan fighting for the U.S., said to Trump from the podium, “you have sacrificed nothing.”
- The families of cops who were killed in the line of duty, tearfully telling their stories.
- The 37 military vets who stood behind retired Gen. John Allen who barked out a powerful speech, with chants of “USA” in the background as he said the tools of the military and foreign policy can’t be reduced to a business transaction — a poke in they eye of Trump, who says if NATO allies’ dues aren’t paid up, the U.S. will not come to their defense. As if money is the only commodity in foreign relations.
The convention focused on matters especially important to women and children. A clearly conscious effort, knowing Trump’s weaknesses in those areas. The Democrats seem to be conceding the white male vote to Trump, but are going strongly after women, young folks, and Latino, African American, Afghani populations and others, knowing she has a huge leg up with them. And, like her husband’s strategy long ago of triangulating, hoping that those margins among those constituencies will make the winning difference in November.
It likely will continue to be a close race, polling wise, until November 8 but slowly Mrs. Clinton will gain pace as she demonstrates her competence over Trump’s recklessness.