I assumed last night’s DNC speaker trifecta of Tim Kaine, Joe Biden, and President Obama would go for Donald Trump’s jugular, but never, in my wildest and most feverish dreams, did I imagine they would so thoroughly destroy him from such different angles. Harry Reid called Trump a “hateful con man.” CIA director/Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said it was “inconceivable that any presidential candidate would be that irresponsible.” And Michael Bloomberg questioned his actual sanity. But in between their ringing endorsements for Hillary Clinton, Kaine, Biden, and Obama took took the whole #NeverTrump thing to new heights.
Vice-President Biden did one thing other Democrats have failed to do during this DNC, and what he did so well when campaigning for President Obama in 2008 and 2012: He reached right for the hearts of older, middle-class Americans, many of whom are probably unmoved to vote by so much talk about identity politics. He appealed right to those voters in his candid, folksy, endearing way and told them repeatedly: You are better than this. He spoke with compassion and gentleness, but when he got fired up, Mr. Mayor, he got FIRED UP. “[Trump’s] trying to tell us he cares about the middle class? Give me a break! That’s a bunch of malarkey!” was probably the line of the night. Twitter went bonkers for it, and apparently Google searches for “malarkey” skyrocketed in the hours after his speech.
For 20 heartfelt minutes he talked about his Very Best Friend, Barack Obama; about the accomplishments of their administration; about his weekly breakfasts with Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State; and about how he knows she’s the right woman for the job at hand. After he ended his pre-written remarks, he stood at the podium an extra second. “Come on,” he yelled, pounding his fist into the podium. “We are America!”
Tim Kaine’s vice-presidential introduction Saturday in Miami couldn’t have gone better. In an earnest speech that was delivered in both English and Spanish, Kaine quited many Democrats who’d been hoping for a more progressive choice and also eased the fears of more moderate independent voters who needed a chummy buddy to humanize Hillary. Their chemistry was great at the rally and during their 60 Minutes interview on Sunday night. I’ve never seen Hillary Clinton so relaxed on camera, and I’ve been alive long enough to remember watching the GOP strip “Rodham” right out of her name.
Last night’s speech was basically a rehash of his rollout in Miami (because honestly only me, Stacy, my friend Lynnie, and the people in attendance were spending their Saturday afternoon watching C-Span). It took Kaine a couple of minutes to find his footing, but right when it seemed like the country was going to zone out on him, he came through with an impression of Donald Trump that set the internet on fire. “Believe me” he chortled into the microphone, mocking one of Trump’s oft-repeated phrases. The effect was immediate and it was exponential.
1) Tim Kaine suddenly became everyone’s dad, which is a fantastic post-Biden brand for a Democratic VP. 2) Donald Trump cannot stop himself from saying “believe me” (which, frankly, is a textbook verbal tic for a habitual liar), and now, every time he does it, people are going to hear goofy Tim Kaine going, “Buuuleeeiiieve me!” 3) When Donald Trump ultimately and inevitably loses it and goes in on Tim Kaine, half the dads in America are going to feel personally attacked.
He accidentally birthed the most adorable political meme. The Clinton campaign couldn’t have done this with the best branders money can buy.
Tim Kaine seems like his whole life, he's been the only person at his workplaces who's known how to put more toner in the copy machine
— Lauren Hoffman (@L_Hoff) July 28, 2016
Tim Kaine says it's fine if you don't want to go on the Matterhorn, it doesn't make you "a wuss"
— Mara Wilson (@MaraWritesStuff) July 28, 2016
Tim Kaine is gonna get fucked up on wine coolers tonight.
— Ashley C. Ford (@iSmashFizzle) July 28, 2016
Oh please yes give me 8 years of gentle Tim Kaine teasing, with which he will obligingly laugh along and say "You got me there, kiddo!".
REPORTER: Madam President, what's your favorite Fleetwood Mac album?
CLINTON: What kind of question is –
[Kaine grabs podium]
— Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) July 24, 2016
Tim Kaine is your super-nerdy uncle but then he knows the full lyrics to a Drake song and everyone's like "OH SHIT UNCLE TIM"
— Dan Munz (@dan_munz) July 28, 2016
President Barack Obama
I firmly believe history will look back on President Obama as the most important American president after George Washington. Not only for what he accomplished, but for the hope he continued to infuse into a country he never stopped believing in, despite the ugliness that rose up to meet him from the darkest corners from the moment he announced his candidacy. It’s an ugliness that is made manifest in Donald Trump. He is the personification of the cesspool Fox News created and maintained so the GOP could leech power from it, a cesspool they tripled down on toxifying when a black man took office. President Obama endured it and rose above it, but even more than that, he came out on the other side of it with a litany of accomplishments, a party completely unified around him, political capital he’ll be able to spend for decades, and still with the ability to paint an exceptional America and inspire other people to see it too.
Last night he gave one of his best Hopey-Changey speeches yet, and beautifully crowned Hillary Clinton his successor in it. He also trolled the GOP hardcore by invoking Ronald Reagan and very nearly giggling at Donald Trump.
Hillary surprised the arena by taking the stage after Obama’s speech to hug him and stand with him and wave at the crowd. “I’m proud of you,” he whispered to her at one point. And then, “Come on” before pulling her alongside him to the center of the stage, arms wrapped around each other’s waists.
I have chills writing about it even now because I lived through every single up and down of their primary battle in 2008, and to see them like this only eight years later, it makes me also want to believe in the “great contest of ideas” Obama believes this country is all about.