You know what made me mad on Wednesday night? A faction of the audience at the convention chanting "No More War" so loudly that it significantly distracted attention from former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta saying this (my transcription):
"Donald Trump asks our troops to commit war crimes, endorses torture, spurns our allies from Europe to Asia, suggests that countries have nuclear weapons, and he praises dictators from Saddam Hussein to Vladimir Putin. Today-- only today-- let me point out something that just happened today. Donald Trump, today, once again took Russia's side. He asked the Russians to interfere in American politics. Think about that. Think about that for a moment. Donald Trump, who wants to be president of the United States, is asking one of our adversaries to engage in hacking, or intelligence efforts, against the United States of America to affect an election. As someone who was responsible for protecting our nation from cyberattacks, it is inconceivable to me that any presidential candidate would be that irresponsible. I say this out of a firm concern for the future of my children and grandchildren: Donald Trump cannot become our commander-in-chief."
(Side note: on the topic of Clinton's and Trump's alleged similarities, I have found what may be the stupidest political opinion piece ever written for a mainstream news site. Thanks, CNN!)
Okay. So that was Panetta. Now some excerpts from a couple of people who weren't relentlessly heckled.
Michael Bloomberg's speech-- and he's not even a Democrat (he spoke in favor of Bush at the 2004 Republican convention), and he's a billionaire like Trump, so why are we not heckling him if we're going to heckle somebody?-- anyway, Bloomberg's speech may have seemed like lukewarm support from the point of view of Clinton supporters. It basically cast Clinton as... the lesser of two evils. And, again, as far as undecided voters go, it is the exact speech that needs to be made, over and over and over again.
There are times when I disagree with Hillary. But 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. [...]
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. [...]
The bottom line is: Trump is a risky, reckless, and radical choice. And we can't afford to make that choice!
Now, I know Hillary Clinton is not flawless; no candidate is. But she is the right choice — and the responsible choice — in this election. No matter what you may think about her politics or her record, Hillary Clinton understands that this is not reality television; this is reality. She understands the job of president. It involves finding solutions, not pointing fingers, and offering hope, not stoking fear. [...]
The presidency of the United States is the most powerful office in the world, and so I say to my fellow Independents: Your vote matters now. Your vote will determine the future of your job, your business, and our future together as a country.
To me, this election is not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. It's a choice about who is better to lead our country right now: better for our economy, better for our security, better for our freedom, and better for our future.
There is no doubt in my mind that Hillary Clinton is the right choice this November. So tonight, as an Independent, I am asking you to join with me — not out of party loyalty, but out of love of country. And together, let's elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the greatest country in the world, the United States of America.
Finally, for anyone (like myself) who fell asleep before our beloved President Obama, who finally took the podium close to 11 pm, got very far into his remarks: let me leave you with a selection of his well-chosen words.
Now, eight years ago, Hillary and I were rivals for the Democratic nomination. We battled for a year and a half. Let me tell you, it was tough, because Hillary’s tough. Every time I thought I might have that race won, Hillary just came back stronger.
But after it was all over, I asked Hillary to join my team. She was a little surprised, but ultimately said yes – because she knew that what was at stake was bigger than either of us. And for four years, I had a front-row seat to her intelligence, her judgment, and her discipline. I came to realize that her unbelievable work ethic wasn’t for praise or attention – that she was in this for everyone who needs a champion. [...]
You know, nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office. 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. But 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 middle 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.
That’s the Hillary I know. That’s the Hillary I’ve come to admire. And that’s why I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as President of the United States of America. [...]
And then there’s Donald Trump. He’s not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either. He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but 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? [...]
America is already great. America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness does not depend on Donald Trump.
In fact, it doesn't depend on any one person. And that, in the end, may be the biggest difference in this election, the meaning of our democracy. [...]
America has never been about what one person says he'll do for us. It's about what can be achieved by us, together, through the hard and slow and sometimes frustrating, but ultimately enduring work of self-government.
And that's what Hillary Clinton understands. She knows that this is a big, diverse country, she has seen it, she's traveled, she's talked to folks and she understands that most issues are rarely black and white. She understands that even when you're 100 percent right, getting things done requires compromise. That democracy doesn't work if we constantly demonize each other. [...]
These are the things that Hillary knows. It can be frustrating, this business of democracy. Trust me, I know. Hillary knows, too. When the other side refuses to compromise, progress can stall. People are hurt by the inaction. Supporters can grow impatient and worry that you're not trying hard enough, that you've maybe sold out.
But I promise you, when we keep at it, when we change enough minds, when we deliver enough votes, then progress does happen. And if you doubt that, just ask the 20 million more people who have health care today. Just ask the Marine who proudly serves his country without hiding the husband that he loves. [...]
See, my grandparents, they came from the heartland. Their ancestors began settling there about 200 years ago. I don't know if they had their birth certificates, but they were there.
They were Scotch-Irish mostly, farmers, teachers, ranch hands, pharmacists, oil rig workers. Hardy, small-town folks. Some were Democrats, but a lot of them, maybe even most of them were Republicans, the party of Lincoln. And my grandparents explained that folks in these parts, they didn't like show-offs, they didn't admire braggarts or bullies.
They didn't respect mean-spiritedness or folks who were always looking for shortcuts in life. Instead, they valued traits like honesty and hard work, kindness, courtesy, humility, responsibility; helping each other out. That's what they believed in. True things, things that last, the things we try to teach our kids.
And what my grandparents understood was that these values weren't limited to Kansas. They weren't limited to small towns. These values could travel to Hawaii.
They could travel even the other side of the world, where my mother would end up working to help poor women get a better life trying to apply those values. My grandparents knew these values weren't reserved for one race; they could be passed down to a half- Kenyan grandson, or a half-Asian granddaughter; in fact, they were the same values Michelle's parents, the descendants of slaves, taught their own kids living in a bungalow on the south side of Chicago.
They knew these values were exactly what drew immigrants here, and they believed that the children of those immigrants were just as American as their own, whether they wore a cowboy hat or a yarmulke, a baseball cap or a hijab.
America has changed over the years. But these values that my grandparents taught me, they haven't gone anywhere. They're as strong as ever; still cherished by people of every party, every race, every faith. They live on in each of us. What makes us American, what makes us patriots is what's in here. That's what matters.
And that's why we can take the food and music and holidays and styles of other countries and blend it into something uniquely our own. That's why we can attract strivers and entrepreneurs from around the globe to build new factories and create new industries here. That's why our military can look the way it does, every shade of humanity, forged into common service. That's why anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.