If you managed to stick around for the entire Barack Obama speech last night, you surely caught the naked appeal he made to persuadable Republican voters not happy with Donald Trump as the nominee. The guess is you’re going to hear something fairly similar from Hillary Clinton tonight.
The Democrats have less of a problem with stray voters than the Republicans do. Polling shows Clinton is getting somewhere around 90 percent of the Democrat vote, while Trump is only picking up slightly better than two-thirds of the GOP vote. Trump beats Clinton with independents at this point.
And last night it was Obama’s mission to do two things – first, to sew up as much of that 10 percent of stray Democrat vote, most of which is Hard Left Bernie Sanders support that at the moment is split about halfway between Jill Stein and Gary Johnson (for all the Democrats who crossed over and voted in GOP primaries, very little of it appears headed Trump’s way at this point), and second to position the Democrats square in the conventional middle in American politics.
It’s their assumption that the middle in American politics is center-left rather than center-right. They think that Obamacare is the middle of health care policy (to them the left would be completely socialized medicine), they believe Dodd-Frank is the middle of financial regulation, they believe cap and trade is the middle of global warming/environmental policy.
And therefore they believe Obama is a centrist president.
And Obama came along last night to deliver a speech declaring that two percent economic growth with a cooked unemployment rate to mask the actual state of labor participation and stock prices pushed artificially high through absent interest rates should be celebrated as success.
It was a speech reminiscent of a scene from the so-bad-it-was-great 1980 film Flash Gordon, where after inflicting a series of natural disasters on earth Ming the Merciless offers Gordon the rulership of the planet as a satrapy of Ming’s empire. Gordon rejects it, declaring after what Ming has done the people of Earth will likely be little more than slaves. Ming responds that earthlings would be “satisfied with less.”
That’s what Obama and the Democrats expect of America. We’ll be satisfied with less. And after taxing, regulating and scolding America half to death over the past seven and a half years, the president took to the stage yesterday and explained his love for the country and how during his administration he’s preserved all the good things about us Republicans and conservatives like – while warning that Trump will dispatch those to history.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump calls our military a disaster. Apparently, he doesn’t know the men and women who make up the strongest fighting force the world has ever known.
He suggests America is weak. He must not hear the billions of men and women and children, from the Baltics to Burma, who still look to America to be the light of freedom and dignity and human rights. He cozies up to Putin, praises Saddam Hussein, tells our NATO allies that stood by our side after 9/11 that they have to pay up if they want our protection.
Well, America’s promises do not come with a price tag. We meet our commitments. We bear our burdens. That’s one of the reasons why almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago when I took office.
America is already great. America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness does not depend on Donald Trump.
In fact, it doesn’t depend on any one person. And that, in the end, may be the biggest difference in this election, the meaning of our democracy.
Ronald Reagan called America “a shining city on a hill.” Donald Trump calls it “a divided crime scene” that only he can fix. It doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades, because he’s not actually offering any real solutions to those issues. He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear. He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.
And that’s another bet that Donald Trump will lose. And the reason he’ll lose it is because he’s selling the American people short. We are not a fragile people, we’re not a frightful people. Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way. We don’t look to be ruled.
Our power comes from those immortal declarations first put to paper right here in Philadelphia all those years ago. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that we the people can form a more perfect union. That’s who we are. That’s our birthright, the capacity to shape our own destiny.
That’s what drove patriots to choose revolution over tyranny and our GIs to liberate a continent.…
America has never been about what one person says he’ll do for us. It’s about what can be achieved by us, together, through the hard and slow and sometimes frustrating, but ultimately enduring work of self-government.
Sounds like what a Republican would say if running against Trump, right?
The speech was too long, and it was too cute by half. Obama has no credibility to talk about the nation’s founding, which he has implicitly and even explicitly rejected. He has no credibility to talk about Americans as neither fragile nor frightful; his message has been fairly plain that he believes we are both.
But he gave a dramatic performance worthy of a Tony. And his party is hoping that it was enough to peel off enough Republicans wary of Trump to drag Hillary across the finish line.
The first two days of the Democrat convention were nothing short of cataclysmic, particularly in the wake of the leak of the DNC e-mails – and this morning the media and the blogosphere are poring through a second leak, this time of the party’s voicemails. But last night, even with a terrible speech by Tim Kaine, the Democrats’ party-apparatchik hack of a vice presidential nominee and the Hieronymous Bosch painting playing out in the Wells Fargo Arena parking lot, thanks to Obama they managed to get their act together.
It’s unlikely that the uninspiring Hillary Clinton can match Obama’s speech. She will fall flat. But like after the speech Bill Clinton gave in 2012, there is a good bet that the Democrats will have constructed a post-convention bounce this week even despite all of the bungles and adversity.