Anybody who waited for ABC, CBS and NBC to break into their primetime entertainment for the third day of the Democratic convention missed it.
Sure, you got to see Tim Kaine give his first speech as a vice-presidential nominee and Barack Obama give one of his last as President. But they were both the kind of political orations you watch with graham crackers and a glass of warm milk at your side.
If you’re the kind of guy who likes to talk politics over a beer and bucket of hot wings at Hooters, you should have tuned into the cable channels an hour earlier – CNN or MSNBC. Fox News is covering this in its own world – for Joe Biden’s and Michael Bloomberg”s takedown of Donald Trump.
Biden took the stage to the strains of “Rocky” – a not-so-subtle nod to his role as the Democrats’ attack dog. (That’s another of those media expressions that seem to creep into all the reporters’ vocabulary at the same time.)
He was in a valedictory mood when he began, thanking his wife and family, noting the absence of his son Beau who died of cancer last year, and paying homage to Barack and Michelle for the eight greatest years of his life.
He offered the requisite tribute to Hillary Clinton as smart, tough and passionate.
“If you live in a neighborhood like the one I grew up in, you worry about your job and getting a decent pay. If you worry about your children’s education, if you are taking care of an elderly parent, then there is only one person in this election who will help you, only one person in this race who will be there, who has always been there for you,” he said. “That’s not just who she is, it is her life story.”
Then he got down to what he really came here to say:
“Ladies and gentlemen, let’s say the obvious, that is not Donald Trump’s story.”
The hall erupted. “Just listen to me a second without booing or cheering,” he chastised them. And it fell silent.
“His cynicism and undoubtedly his lack of empathy and compassion can be summed up in that phrase he is most proud of making famous: ‘You’re fired.’
I’m not joking.
Think about that.
Think about everything you learned as a child. No matter where you were raised, how can there be pleasure in saying, ‘You’re fired’?”
There are speeches woven together with words, and speeches composed in the pauses. This was one of those. So I’m going to give you the rest with only a few omissions for space and none of those pesky quotation marks:
He is trying to tell us he cares about the middle class.
Give me a break.
That is a bunch of malarkey!
Whatever he thinks, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart — I know I’m called middle-class Joe and in Washington, that is not meant as a compliment. It means you are not sophisticated –– I know why we are strong. I know why we are held together. It’s because there has always been a growing middle class.
This guy does not have a clue about the middle class.
Not a clue.
Because folks, when the middle class does well, the rich do very well and the poor have hope. They have a way out. He has no clue about what makes America great.
Actually, he has no clue.
Folks, let me say something that has nothing to do with politics. Let me talk about something that I’m deadly serious about.
This is a complicated and uncertain world we live in. The threats are too great, the times are too uncertain, to elect Donald Trump as president of the United States.
Let me finish . . .
No major party, no major party nominee in the history of the nation has ever known less or been less prepared to deal with our national security.
We cannot elect a man who exploits our fears of ISIS . . . who embraces the tactics of our enemies . . . We cannot elect a man who belittles our closest allies while embracing dictators like Vladimir Putin.
I mean it.
A man who seeks to sow division in America for his own gain and disorder around the world. A man who confuses bluster with strength. We simply cannot let that happen as Americans.
Let me tell you what I literally tell every leader I’ve met with:
Never, never, never bet against America.
Ordinary people like us, who do extraordinary things, we had candidates before attempting get elected by appealing to our fears, but they’ve never succeeded because we do not scare easily. We never bow. We never break when confronted with crisis. We endure! We overcome and we always move forward.
We are America, second to none, and we own the finish line!
There was hardly time for the commentators to commentate on Biden’s performance before former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg took the stage for another round.
Bloomberg was a late addition to the program, but a key one: a three-term mayor who won his first election after switching his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, and his last by switching again to become a registered Independent.
He is, like Trump, a billionaire. His fortune is five times Trump’s. (Don’t take my word for it. Check out the tax returns he released every year he was in office.) And he wasn’t speaking to the Democrats in the hall. His appeal was to the independent voters watching at home.
“Now, I’m not here as a member of any party, or to endorse any party platform,” he said. “There are times when I disagree with Hillary. But whatever our disagreements may be, I’ve come here to say: We must put them aside for the good of our country. And we must unite around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue.”
“We’ve heard a lot of talk in this campaign about needing a leader who understands business. I couldn’t agree more,” he continued. “I’ve built a business — and I didn’t start it with a million-dollar check from my father.”
“Most of us who have created a business know that we’re only as good as the way our employees, clients, and partners view us. Most of us don’t pretend that we’re smart enough to make every big decision by ourselves. And most of us who have our names on the door know that we’re only as good as our word. But not Donald Trump.
“Throughout his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits, angry shareholders, contractors who feel cheated, and disillusioned customers who feel ripped off. Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s run his business. God help us.
“I’m a New Yorker, and New Yorkers know a con when we see one!
“Trump says he’ll punish manufacturers that move to Mexico or China, but the clothes he sells are made overseas in low-wage factories. He says he wants to put Americans back to work, but he games the US visa system so he can hire temporary foreign workers at low wages. He says he wants to deport 11 million undocumented people, but he seems to have no problem in hiring them. What’d I miss here?
“Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy.
“He wants you to believe that we can solve our biggest problems by deporting Mexicans and shutting out Muslims. He wants you to believe that erecting trade barriers will bring back good jobs. He’s wrong on both counts.”
“I understand the appeal of a businessman president. But Trump’s business plan is a disaster in the making. He would make it harder for small businesses to compete, do great damage to our economy, threaten the retirement savings of millions of Americans, lead to greater debt and more unemployment, erode our influence in the world, and make our communities less safe.
“The bottom line is: Trump is a risky, reckless, and radical choice. And we can’t afford to make that choice.
“Now, I know Hillary Clinton is not flawless; no candidate is. But she is the right choice — and the responsible choice — in this election. No matter what you may think about her politics or her record, Hillary Clinton understands that this is not reality television; this is reality. She understands the job of president. It involves finding solutions, not pointing fingers, and offering hope, not stoking fear.
“To me, this election is not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. It’s a choice about who is better to lead our country right now.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Hillary Clinton is the right choice this November. So tonight, as an independent, I am asking you to join with me — not out of party loyalty but out of love of country.
“And together, let’s elect a sane, competent Hillary Clinton as the next president of the greatest country in the world.”
In the interest of fair and balanced, let me give you Trump’s response:
“stay the course mr trump your message is resonating with the PEOPLE,” he tweeted, echoing a note from one of his fans.