It was Establishment Nostalgia Night at the Democratic Convention Aug. 18 as an array of Old Guard luminaries looked for all the world as if they were taking a final bow in the limelight under the banner of aged and now official party presidential nominee Joe Biden.
The second evening of the virtual event featured dust-covered names representing a Washington political aristocracy that tens of millions of voters stoutly rejected in 2016. Populist outsider Donald Trump’s team undoubtedly must have been thrilled to see the likes of former president Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Colin Powell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jimmy Carter, Cindy McCain, and Caroline Kennedy trotted out to remind voters just how long Biden has been a major player in the Swampy Potomac.
Another potentially lethal threat to the Democrats’ elderly power apparatus could be found in the young radical congresswoman who was allotted one minute of speaking time and used it to send a subliminal message to creaking party poobahs that a Biden defeat in November would mean not only the end to his long career, but theirs as well.
March of the Relics
Schumer was the first high-profile speaker of the evening. He lost no time in continuing the assault on Trump that marked the previous day’s proceedings. “Today Donald Trump has divided our country, diminished our greatness and demeaned everything that [the Statue of Liberty] represents,” he said of the president. “He even hid in a bunker as Americans were teargassed and beaten.”
Schumer chose an odd line of attack on Trump, trying to accuse him of quitting on the American people. “Presidents should never say ‘it is what it is,'” Schumer stated. “President Lincoln, honoring the great sacrifice at Gettysburg, didn’t say ‘it is what it is.’ President [Franklin Delano] Roosevelt, seeing a third of the nation ill-housed ill-clad and ill-nourished, didn’t say ‘it is what it is.'”
What made the remarks so unusual is that former first lady Michelle Obama was widely toasted in Democrat and big-box media circles for saying just those words one night earlier in summing up her thoughts on the Trump administration. “‘It is what it is’: How Michelle Obama’s ‘epic shade’ won the DNC’s opening night,” a Washington Post headline read. Schumer couldn’t go 24 hours without tripping all over Democrat anti-Trump messaging.
Caroline Kennedy, the only surviving child of former president John F. Kennedy, spoke and delivered perhaps the oddest quote of the convention so far. The former U.S. ambassador to Japan in the Obama administration referred to accompanying Biden on an overseas trip. “He stepped off Air Force Two wearing his aviator glasses and a big smile, radiating American optimism and generosity.”
Biden’s hip shades notwithstanding, the only purpose of Kennedy’s appearance seemed to be to tout her son Jack Schlossberg, who stood with her, as the next handsome celebrity member of the Kennedy political machine. The fact that nobody under the age of 50 is remotely pining for a return to Camelot didn’t seem to enter into the equation as this blue theater of antiquity rolled on.
Jimmy Carter was the next Ghost of Democratic Christmases Past to appear. Carter told voters that Biden was a key supporter as he made his run for the White House in 1976. Somehow, Team Biden seemed to believe that reminding Americans that Joe Biden’s time in Washington dates back to when the 95-year-old Carter was considered a fresh young face was a good idea.
Bill Clinton then stepped up to the plate. Looking far older than his 74 years, Clinton came off as tired and canned while exhibiting the energy of someone who had been pointedly shunted off the main stage. Which in fact he was, as Democrats made sure to air him before the 10-11 p.m. window in which major broadcast networks began their live convention coverage.
Unintentionally receiving perfect framing as a welcome diversion from this oldster parade, fiery progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was grudgingly granted her 60 seconds of time. She did not squander it. The young firebrand not so subtly put the ruling Democratic establishment on notice.
AOC saluted a “mass people’s movement working to establish 21st century social, economic, and human rights, including guaranteed health care, higher education, living wages, and labor rights for all people in the United States.” She then seconded the presidential nomination of failed democratic socialist candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The first big name under the age of 69 to speak for the evening, Ocasio-Cortez did not mention Biden’s name once.
The state-by-state nomination process officially making Biden the party nominee followed. It included a hearty emphasis on divisive issues. Khizr Khan, the Trump-bashing Gold Star father whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004, represented the Commonwealth of Virginia. He used his Charlottesville location to paint Trump as a supporter of white supremacists. In a nod to gun control enthusiasts, Florida was represented by Fred Guttenberg, father of a young girl killed in the Parkland school shooting in 2018. And in an odd time-capsule moment that conjured more distant memories of Biden’s salad days in the U.S. Senate in the 1990s, the parents of Matthew Shepard, a young homosexual murdered 22 years ago, spoke for Wyoming. It was a weird throwback, much like having an O.J. Simpson trial personage pop onto the scene.
A Celebration of DC Insider Politics
After Biden had secured the nomination, it was back to the old machinery of his past as the major networks broke in. One-time Democratic nominee John Kerry, 76, was brought on to champion a decidedly interventionist American foreign policy. Kerry openly referenced the dated neoconservative slogan of spreading democracy “around the world” while lambasting Trump for disengaging from the aggressive policies that plunged America into unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq some two decades ago. He also was keen to indulge in saber-rattling with a nuclear power, declaring that “Donald Trump pretends Russia didn’t attack our elections. And now, he does nothing about Russia putting a bounty on our troops.”
Former George W. Bush administration Secretary of State Colin Powell came next, and served as a Republican establishment wingman to Kerry. His remarks were virtually indistinguishable from those of the Democrat who ran against the president he served in 2004. Team Trump couldn’t have asked for a better nationally televised live display of Uniparty politics in action.
A video featuring Cindy McCain, widow of deceased neoconservative icon John McCain, added to the Swamp reminiscence. Mrs. McCain celebrated the deep friendship she said her husband and Biden had shared during their time together in the Senate.
Biden’s wife Jill was the closing keynote speaker and gave a safe and completely unmemorable feel-good performance. Which is fine, she’s only auditioning to be first lady, not an elected official. Soft-serve ice cream is OK just so long as Democrats do not try to push the narrative that she moved the needle in any way. She did not.
The dark tone of the first night of the convention was replaced on Night Two with two hours of pining for the good old days of unquestioned establishment political rule. But the bellicose rumblings of young Ocasio-Cortez should make it clear to the leading active players of this Old Guard just what is at stake for them in this coming election. If Democrats fail to capture the White House in 2020, Joe Biden will not be the only aging politician to exit the scene. Major Democrat figures such as Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will also find their heads on the chopping block.
You can watch Night Three of the Democratic Convention right here on Liberty Nation.
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