While some at the Democratic National Convention took a He-Who-Will-Not-Be-Mentioned approach in their speeches this week, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg played the [t]Rump Card, and played it hard:
"I'm a New Yorker, and New Yorkers know a con when we see one."
Bloomberg — who has been a Democrat, a Republican, and an Independent — said he votes the person, not the ticket, and then gave Hillary Clinton his resounding endorsement:
"I know what it's like to have neither party represent my views or values ... There are times when I disagree with Hillary Clinton. But let me tell you, 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."
And as a businessman, he took on [t]Rump]’s business dealings and laid out the [t]Rump style plainly, clearly:
"We've heard a lot of talk in this campaign about needing a leader who understands business. I couldn't agree more. I've built a business, and I didn't start it with a million-dollar check from my father. … But Trump's business plan is a disaster in the making. … Throughout his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits, angry shareholders and 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."
But the best part of all was when he took on [t]Rump’s habit of saying one thing and doing another — like bringing business back to this country while having his line of suits made in China:
"Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy. … 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?"
But then he went back to Hillary and talked of how, in the days after 9/11, as New York’s new mayor, he personally witnessed Clinton's work ethic in public office:
"I saw how Hillary Clinton worked with Republicans in Washington to ensure that New York got the help it needed to recover and rebuild. Throughout her time in the Senate, we didn't always agree — but Hillary Clinton always listened. And that's the kind of approach we need in Washington today, and it just has to start in the White House ... so let's elect a sane, competent person with international experience … Hillary Clinton.”
Ouch. Elect the sane, competent choice. Poor [t]Rump.
Tim Kaine, who calls himself boring, but is the Vice Presidential nominee, took the stage and laid things out pretty simply:
"I trust Hillary Clinton."
And that’s Tim Kaine’s job, to show he trusts Hillary and to show those on both sides who still have their doubts — as misguided as I think they are — that they, too, can trust her:
"I want to tell you why I trust Hillary Clinton. On a personal level, as [our son] is serving our nation abroad, I trust Hillary Clinton with [his] life."
Not [t]Rump who will only exacerbate the anti-American sentiment around the world with his Muslim bans and calls for torture, and his hate speech.
“[But] you know who I don't trust? Donald Trump. The guy promises a lot. But you might have noticed, he has a habit of saying the same two words right after he makes his biggest promises … “Believe me.”
And then he channeled [t]Rump:
“’It’s gonna be great -- believe me! We're gonna build a wall and make Mexico pay for it -- believe me! We're gonna destroy ISIS so fast -- believe me! There's nothing suspicious in my tax returns -- believe me!’"
And that’s gonna be the dig that Kaine carries with him: [t]Rump]s taxes, because I’ve a feeling that, just like Mittsy in 2012, we have a billionaire running for office who pays less in taxes than the average schoolteacher, and so how can we expect that kind of man to know what’s right, and what’s best for any class but the wealthy?
That is a [t]Rump presidency in Tim Kaine’s mind — and in mine, too: one of hate, division, lack of real leadership, bigotry and lies. I trust that Tim Kaine and Hillary Clinton will do better than that.
Like I trust Joe. Middle Class Joe, he joked … but to me he’s just a Regular Joe. Joe Biden. I wonder what this election cycle might have looked like had he chosen to run, though I understand the reasons — the death of his son, Beau — that formed his decision not to run. But still, imagine …
After an emotional tribute to Beau — he is a proud father, after all — Joe took on [t]Rump, often using his own words against him:
“We should really think about this. [Trump’s] cynicism is unbounded. His lack of empathy and compassion can be summed up in a phrase I think he’s really proud of: ‘You’re fired.’ How can there be pleasure in saying you’re fired?’”
He was outraged, saying we have all been raised better than that, except for [t]Rump who finds it all so funny.
“He’s saying he cares about the middle class. Give me a break! That’s a bunch of malarkey. This guy doesn’t have a clue about the middle class, not a clue. He has no clue about what makes America great.”
Slow beat … wait for applause … and then:
“Actually, he has no clue, period.”
But Joe wasn’t finished:
“No major party nominee in the history of this nation has ever known less or has been less prepared to deal with our national security. We cannot elect a man who exploits our fear of ISIS and other terrorists, who has no plan, … a man who embraces the tactics of our enemies: torture, religious intolerance … We cannot elect a man who belittles our closest allies while embracing dictators like Vladimir Putin, a man who confuses bluster with strength. We simply cannot let that happen as Americans, period.”
“It’s never, never, never been a good bet to bet against America. Americans have never, ever, ever let their country down. Never. Never. We are America, second to none, and we own the finish line! Don’t forget it! We’re America!”
I think Hillary needs to get Joe by her side and out on the campaign trail to keep it simple, keep it regular, keep it Joe.
But finally, the best for last … President Barack Obama.
I have, at times, been frustrated by Obama, as I have been frustrated by every elected official because, you know, politics is hard; it can be a game; it can be ugly; and there were times when it got ugly, and personal, that I wished Barack Obama had acted as though he had no f**ks left to give.
But, I learned the other night from Michelle Obama that when the other side goes low, Obama goes high. And he went high last night, too.
He reminded us of some of the hopes we’d had when we elected him — twice — and the changes we’ve seen during his tenure: making healthcare "a right for everybody;" an historic global climate agreement,; and the one that affected me most personally: full marriage equality. But he admitted that there was still work to be done and that we needed to make the right choice this November:
"It was tough, because Hillary's tough. She was doing everything I was doing, but just like Ginger Rogers, it was backwards and in heels."
And then he reminded us that, when she lost, she got up, and stood by his side, and helped him win the election that year, and now he’s here to return the favor because, out of any of the candidates running, and especially compared to one, she is by far the most qualified:
"You know, nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office. You can read about it, you can study it, but until you've sat at that desk, you don't know what it's like to manage a global crisis or send young people to war. … Hillary's been in the room; she's been part of those decisions. She knows what's at stake in the decisions our government makes for the working family, the senior citizen, the small business owner, the soldier, and the veteran. Even in the midst of crisis, she listens to people and keeps her cool and treats everybody with respect. And no matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits. … I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman — not me, not Bill, nobody — more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as President of the United States of America."
And then he compared the two frontrunners for the White House and did not mince words … or have any f**ks left to give:
"I have to say, I know plenty of businessmen and women who've achieved success without leaving a trail of lawsuits and unpaid workers and people feeling like they got cheated. Does anyone really believe that a guy who's spent his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion? Your voice?"
And he rejected [t]Rump’s view of America:
“We are not a fragile or frightful people. Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order. We don’t look to be ruled. … America has never been about what one person says he’ll do for us. It’s always been about what can be achieved by us, together, through the hard, slow, sometimes frustrating, but ultimately enduring work of self-government.”
And then he spoke about the America he knows:
“The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity. The America I know is decent and generous. Sure, we have real anxieties — about paying the bills, protecting our kids, caring for a sick parent. We get frustrated with political gridlock, worry about racial divisions; are shocked and saddened by the madness of Orlando or Nice. There are pockets of America that never recovered from factory closures; men who took pride in hard work and providing for their families who now feel forgotten. Parents who wonder whether their kids will have the same opportunities we have.”
"They didn't like show-offs. They didn't admire braggarts or bullies. Instead, they valued traits like honesty and hard work. That's why anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end."
“Most of all, I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together — black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young and old; gay, straight, men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love. … Tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me; I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me. It's been you who've fueled my dogged faith in our future, even when the odds are great, even when the road is long. Hope in the face of difficulty; hope in the face of uncertainty; the audacity of hope!"
Hope. Hope versus fear, Clinton versus [t]Rump. Qualified versus bombastic. The choice seems clear.
But I need to say one more thing: I’ve voted a lot, for presidents, for governor, senators, congressman and women, mayors, city council,, class presidents. Whatever. But, I have never been more proud of a president of this country than I have been of Barack Obama and for that one reason that Michelle talked about the other night.
Think of all the attacks, personal, hate-filled, racist attacks, made against him by, not only, average Americans but political leaders and colleagues over the last eight years, and remember how he responded: dignified, respectful, taking the high road.
He is a man of intelligence and grace and compassion and hope and, while he does see the need for change, and continued change, he wants to change toward hope, not fear.
They say electing Hillary Clinton will be like electing Obama to a third term; I say, that sounds like a keen idea.