It was like an Elvis sighting. ‘WHERE’S HUNTER,’ Trump kept bellowing in his tweets. Well, there was the recently reclusive 50-year-old lobbyist Hunter Biden, the black sheep of the family, who almost brought down his pappy’s campaign with his Ukraine shenanigans. He looked youthful with his hair slicked back, dark suit, white shirt, and blue tie, appearing at the Democratic convention together his sister Ashley to endorse him for president. Hunter probably will retreat back into seclusion for the duration of the campaign, but it was a smart move to feature him so prominently, a version of the courtroom tactic of getting the unpleasant facts before the jury before the prosecution can air them. Hunter came off well: pleasant, earnest and loyal to his father: ‘He’ll make your grandkids feel what they’ve got to say matters.’
The appearance of Hunter was of a piece with the smooth running of the convention. No doubt it had its longueurs: pulling the primary candidates to reminisce about running against Biden was like watching old home week. But the Democrats, it must be said, hit all their electoral targets, ranging from offering up Colin Powell and a host of other milquetoast Republicans to a smattering of the left in the form of AOC to stroke the progressive erogenous zone.
But the grand finale really did come last night. The greatest mistake Trump and his camarilla have committed is to disparage Biden as a doddering old fool who can barely utter a sentient thought. As Chris Wallace of Fox News noted, he ‘blew a hole’ in Trump’s claim that he’s ‘mentally shot’. Au contraire. Biden seemed transformed and revivified. Somehow Sleepy Joe was jolted awake. Apparently Trump’s constant stream of invective really is good for something.
The dominant theme of Biden’s speech was ending the American carnage wrought by Donald Trump and replacing it with the promise of American life. Biden promised in his acceptance speech that it would all get better. He was a mixture of preacher, therapist and old-fashioned pol. There was no direct mention of Trump’s name in his speech. At most he referred to ‘the president’. Nor was there much ideology in his speech. Instead, it was a call to peace, love and understanding in the form of banishing Trump from the Oval Office. For Republicans who regret voting for Trump in 2016, he offers absolution; for Democrats who are seeking catharsis for Hillary’s improbable defeat, payback.
So don’t be fooled. In his own emollient way, Biden was appealing to the hatred of Trump boiling in the Democratic party. Henry Adams remarked, ‘Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.’ Biden simply put a better gloss on this sentiment, arguing that he, in contrast to Trump, would be the president of all Americans rather than for a faction.
Biden is running an extremely shrewd campaign. Until now, he hasn’t been cowering in his basement but shrewdly allowing Trump to dominate the stage with his serial blunders, ranging from the promotion of the ingestion of bleach to ridiculing wearing a mask. Last night, Biden pulled his own mask off. The seemingly innocuous candidate morphed into the most dangerous opponent Trump has ever faced.
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