Customarily, a national political convention has several purposes—it must establish the party’s platform, emphasize its differences in policy and vision from the other party, and nominate its presidential candidate. It must also fire up the base and leave the convention with momentum.
Here last week, the Democratic National Convention succeeded on all these aims, and speaker after speaker took turns stoking the crowd, creating frenzy, and putting their Republican opponents’ feet to the fire.
Right from the start on Tuesday, first lady Michelle Obama set the tone with her impassioned love letter to her husband and to the American people. After her came a flurry of memorable zingers.
Bill Clinton’s quiver was packed with arrows and each one hit its target with none more compelling than his sarcastic comment about how his administration managed to deliver four surplus budgets. “What new ideas did we bring? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic.”
Sen. John Kerry assailed Mitt Romney’s lack of knowledge on foreign affairs. “He’s even blurted out the preposterous notion that Russia is our ‘number one geopolitical foe.’ Folks: Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska; Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV.”
Even Vice President Joe Biden weighed in with an unforgettable zap of the GOP. “Osama Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive!” he exclaimed to thunderous applause.
Of course, President Obama was as smooth and eloquent as ever, though he must have felt that all the previous speakers on the days before and on his evening had commandeered all the best lines.
Many of the women prior to Obama’s speech may have in fact stolen some of his usual electricity. Elizabeth Warren the senatorial candidate from Massachusetts took strong exception to Romney’s conclusion that corporations are people. “No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people,” she stated. “People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people. And that’s why we need Barack Obama.”
The mere appearance of the severely wounded Gabby Giffords was heartwarming and when she slowly walked to the podium and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance the place went bonkers.
But the most sustained ovation of the entire convention was given to Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan. She ripped into Romney with unrestrained ferocity taking him to task on how he made his fortune at the expense of others.
“Year after year, it was profit before people,” she charged. “President Obama? With the auto rescue, he saved more than one million middle-class jobs all across America. In Colorado, the auto rescue saved more than 9,800 jobs! In Virginia, more than 19,000 jobs! In North Carolina, more than 25,000!” And with each state as she announced the number of jobs Obama saved, delegates from that state took to their feet adding to the roaring crescendo.
“When American markets broke down,” Granholm continued, “who jump-started the engine? Barack Obama! And when America needed it most, who got us rolling again on the road to recovery? Barack Obama!”
The base was fired up and ready to go, and this will not be the last time they hear from Granholm because she put the Run to DNC.