2016 Democratic National Convention, Night Three: Thanks Obama!

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

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

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.


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 Clinton

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.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 800 articles for us.

10 Comments

  1. The Convention is the best pep rally ever. I genuinely enjoy it and find it inspiring. I just hope they live up to it once in office. I notice they talked a lot about personality, and little about policy. Maybe that’s how to win, but I always feel manipulated; even when I let myself get swept away in the moment, and I have a great time letting it happen, I always go to bed feeling like I just watched a political romcom, and the less cozy reality comes back as soon as it’s over.

  2. Dream scenario: Hillary wins in a landslide; GOP implodes; and HRC can use her amazing political skills to fix political discourse and bipartisanship in america and having a domino effect on the rest of the world. (Right now the GOP is chock full of bigots who equate feelings with facts.)

    Nightmare scenario: Trump wins and messes up the economy badly – blames everyone else – and there will be a huge, entrenched, vile and bigoted group in america that is here to stay. And, they reach out to like-minded organizations in the world; ending up simply destroying civilization as we know it. There are so many people with power in the world now that is so bigoted, and incapable of finding solutions to systemic problems, that we’re just getting closer and closer to The End being an actual thing now.

    The Brexit vote was more moronic than anyone can imagine – really, it is such a spectacularly fail of epic proportions that people won’t believe it. And yet – Trump winning will be much worse.

  3. It’s hard to live up to Joe Biden but Tim Kaine definitely wormed his way into my heart with his Donald Trump impersonation…but what really won me over is that he and his wife, Ann, after the most pivotal night in his career, stayed up reading dad jokes on twitter. How can you not love someone who has such a great sense of humor about themselves?

    But the night belonged to Barack Obama…wow…

    The speech managed to crystallize, better than any solitary accomplishment over the last 7.5 years, what a gift the Obamas have been…and juxtaposed with Donald Trump, who represents the worst of this country, the speech crystallized how little we deserve it.

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