Hits and misses from Night 1 of the Democratic National Convention

A group of life-long Republicans make the case for members of their party breaking with Donald Trump and backing Joe Biden.

Posted: Aug 18, 2020 6:10 AM
Updated: Aug 18, 2020 6:10 AM

The first night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention is in the books.

As expected, it was a different looking and sounding production from years past -- as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic kept the vast majority of speakers away from the actual arena in Milwaukee.

Nonetheless, the show went on. And I watched every minute! Below the best -- and worst -- of the night that was.

HITS

* Michelle Obama: The two most gifted speakers in the Democratic Party are Obamas. Former first lady Michelle Obama proved that -- again -- on Monday night, with a powerful speech that hit at the core of what I believe is the most glaring personality flaw in President Donald Trump: A complete lack of empathy. "That's not just disappointing, it's downright infuriating," she said at one point. Obama also offered up her unique perspective on what it actually takes to be a president: How the rigors of the job reveal true character. Perhaps most surprisingly from Obama, who like her husband has generally resisted taking on Trump in aggressive terms, the tone of her speech was frank and at times harsh about Trump's total lack of qualifications to do the job which he currently holds. "Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country," she said in the most powerful moment of her speech. "He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment."

* Kristin Urquiza: The daughter of an Arizona man who lost his life to Covid-19 delivered the single most powerful moment of the first hour of the two-hour convention program. And the single most powerful line, about her father: "His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life." Wow. That's a line you will hear again -- and maybe one you will see in a TV ad for former Vice President Joe Biden sometime this fall.

* Andrew Cuomo: The New York governor became one of the most recognizable figures in the country thanks to his daily coronavirus press conferences in the spring, as New York City fought the worst Covid-19 outbreak in the country. His speech on Monday night returned to that theme, with PowerPoint charts showing the decline of coronavirus cases in his state. For Cuomo, who is already being talked about as a potential 2024 candidate if Biden doesn't win or doesn't run for a second term, the speech was an effective affirmation of his image as a gifted bureaucrat at a time when the country needs that.

* Former 2020 candidates: It was a very nice grace note to have many of the people Biden beat in the Democratic primary all appear in a single video explaining why they admire Biden and why they believe him to be the right man for this moment. I thought New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was particularly effective, recounting how, after he and Biden went after each other on the debate stage, that the former VP in a commercial break praised Booker for his ideas and his presence on the stage.

* Bernie Sanders: The Vermont senator did what the Biden team needed him to do. He acknowledged the differences between the two men -- especially on health care -- but pivoted to note how much they agree on, and how the threat from Trump was so fundamental that differences among Democrats were not worth dwelling on. Will there still be some Sanders supporters who stay home rather than vote for the brand of Democratic politics Biden represents? Sure. But Sanders didn't make things any worse with that speech. Plus, how can you argue with a background of chopped wood for a speech?

* National Anthem: Kids singing? Dressed in red, white and blue shirts? Oh, you bet. The National Anthem was the emotional highpoint of the first 45 minutes of the convention.

* John Prine: As someone who has loved John Prine's music for decades, hearing his voice singing "I Remember Everything" -- to commemorate all those who have lost their lives to coronavirus -- was a high point. Unfortunately, it also reminded me that we lost John to Covid this spring. Ugh.

* Alice Cooper: When Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore noted that Milwaukee means "land of plenty" in Algonquian, I can't imagine I was the only one who thought of Cooper's scene in "Wayne's World." In fact, did you know that "Milwaukee has certainly had its share of visitors. The French missionaries and explorers were coming here as early as the late 1600s to trade with the Native Americans?"

MISSES

* Gretchen Whitmer: The Michigan governor made Biden's VP short list. But she didn't put her best foot forward on Monday night. Speaking from a podium and flanked by flags, Whitmer's speech looked too traditional for the moment. And her speech was similar -- a sort of political color-by-numbers address that ended with the inevitable personal anecdote about some resilient Michigander -- was too formulaic. Meh.

* Roundtables: Look, I know it is VERY hard to produce two hours of television when you can't have people -- like, any people -- together in one room. And, in theory, Joe Biden or Megan Rapinoe hosting virtual roundtables to talk about police reform or front-line health care workers makes sense. But it felt very, very flat -- like a bad panel segment on cable TV where everyone says one thing and then they go to a commercial break. Just sort of lifeless.

* In-your-face symbolism: Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich's speech began by noting that America was at a crossroads while he was standing -- wait for it -- at a crossroads. Yeah man, we get it. Two roads diverged in a wood, and all of that. On the bright side: Kasich standing at a crossroads became an instant Internet meme.

* The clapping: After Maggie Rogers performed (she was amazing!) and after Sanders spoke, there was a full screen of people clapping to show their appreciation/agreement. I get the desire to have some sort of reaction to great music or political speeches. And how weird it is when a politician gives a rousing speech and dead silence follows. But you know what's worse? Weird post-performance clapping via Zoom like we saw on Monday night.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 159036

Reported Deaths: 3879
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10563104
Hinds10414204
Harrison7397113
Jackson6655128
Rankin6057107
Lee540396
Madison5120107
Forrest394786
Jones376188
Lauderdale3663147
Lafayette341053
Washington3321108
Lamar301950
Oktibbeha255262
Lowndes252867
Bolivar248084
Panola237353
Neshoba2280122
Marshall225051
Leflore211191
Monroe209778
Pontotoc208131
Lincoln200566
Sunflower194155
Warren183058
Tate180451
Union172926
Copiah170840
Pike166760
Scott161330
Yazoo161340
Itawamba159936
Alcorn159328
Pearl River158969
Coahoma155943
Prentiss154931
Simpson154053
Adams147252
Grenada145445
Leake141844
Holmes134461
Covington130040
Tippah130030
George129525
Winston128726
Hancock127641
Wayne123024
Attala122834
Marion121447
Tishomingo114043
Chickasaw110732
Newton110529
Tallahatchie99427
Clay96127
Clarke94853
Jasper87023
Stone82015
Calhoun79513
Walthall79330
Montgomery78426
Carroll75515
Lawrence74614
Smith74216
Yalobusha74228
Noxubee73317
Perry68726
Tunica63019
Greene62422
Jefferson Davis59617
Claiborne59216
Amite57615
Humphreys55219
Quitman5107
Benton50418
Kemper48018
Webster47714
Wilkinson40722
Jefferson38312
Choctaw3637
Franklin3635
Sharkey32917
Issaquena1214
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 256828

Reported Deaths: 3711
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34214511
Mobile20299366
Madison13925150
Tuscaloosa13591156
Montgomery12659238
Shelby1095877
Baldwin9163137
Lee792566
Morgan710851
Etowah677467
Calhoun6695121
Marshall665757
Houston548239
DeKalb504738
Cullman472043
St. Clair451857
Limestone447546
Lauderdale436054
Elmore427564
Walker3818111
Talladega374457
Jackson350723
Colbert336443
Blount310043
Autauga287342
Franklin259734
Coffee254115
Dale242054
Dallas232932
Chilton230841
Russell22813
Covington227934
Escambia206131
Tallapoosa189191
Chambers185950
Pike162214
Clarke161819
Marion146136
Winston141924
Lawrence135336
Pickens127720
Geneva12638
Marengo125224
Bibb123938
Barbour120629
Butler118842
Randolph105922
Cherokee105524
Hale99732
Fayette96316
Clay93525
Washington93319
Henry8946
Monroe83811
Lowndes82129
Cleburne79914
Macon76522
Crenshaw72930
Conecuh72414
Lamar7138
Bullock70919
Perry6927
Wilcox64918
Sumter58922
Greene44218
Choctaw43519
Coosa3724
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