My Reaction to the Democratic VP Nomination Acceptance Speeches (2/2) The Rest

Lyndon Johnson (1960)

In my opinion, this is the single greatest choice for VP of all time, certainly of the modern era of politics. The only ones that come close (Teddy Roosevelt for example) were more like happy accidents than wise strategic choices. One of the few things I think RFK was dead wrong about was trying to drop Johnson from the ticket. LBJ had an insane amount of sway in the Congress and if it weren’t for him, Civil Rights and the Great Society never would have happened and thus the Kennedy legacy would have been mostly a waste. (Which is what has happened now to Obama.) Unfortunately, this video begins abruptly and it seems we missed some opening remarks. We see Johnson spend a lot of time talking about Abe Lincoln which I think is pretty cool in hindsight because LBJ, with the passage of Civil Rights almost 100 years after the Civil War is the culmination of that legacy. It’s also cool how he brings up Cuba and Civil Rights specifically, since these two issues would dominate the first few years of his and JFK’s administration. Stevenson as well as JFK’s Catholicism are also mentioned. It always surprises me how the latter was such a big deal as recently as 50 years ago.

Something I don’t like about Johnson’s speaking style is the way he throws up his hands a lot. Hand gesturing is an important part of oration, but LBJ is a little too animated with it. He comes off like an old geezer throwing up his arms in frustration rather than a wise leader driving home a point. This is one of LBJ’s faults as a politician: he’s not a bad orator, but nowhere near the eloquence of FDR, JFK himself, Bill Clinton or Obama. He strikes me as a cross between Huey Long and Harry Truman—I’m guessing it’s a southern thing. Of course, there’s something to be said about the more direct, brash rhetoric of the Southern Democrats too. A lot of people prefer the “one of us”/”tells it like it is”/”I could have a beer with him” type of politician over the stuffy New England/Coastal intelligentsia. All the same, for me this is more of a stilted, aimless speech than what I prefer. (The more I think about it, the more I realize this is probably why McGovern’s convention speech is my favorite even though his was not quite as verbose as some; he seemed to find the perfect balance between the two extremes I just laid out. He was intelligent and spoke in terms of high ideals, while doing so in a way the average man could understand.)

Hubert Humphrey (1964)

I have mixed feelings on Humphrey. I’m sure he was a good man, and to his credit he championed Civil Rights almost 20 years before it became the “cool” thing to do. I’m sure he was a well meaning guy and did some great stuff besides that too. But I hate his whiny, nasally voice. I hate his overly flowery manner of talking. And I think he has a lot to answer for with his part in progressive liberalism’s ultimate demise in the US. Basically, he was last generation’s Hillary Clinton—the entitled party boss making backroom deals, who wanted to be President so badly that he put his own personal ambition over the good of the party itself, not to mention the country.

Humphrey was appointed as VP because he was the establishment’s choice. He was handed the nomination in 1968 in spite of the fact he never won a single primary for the same reason. And he ran a vicious primary against McGovern where he played a big part in sabotaging George’s momentum. After that race was over, Humphrey literally called Nixon to congratulate him and kiss his ass. He wanted it too badly, and if he couldn’t have it, nobody could. By destroying the people’s clear choice (a young, anti-Vietnam progressive) two cycles in a row, Humphrey helped to demoralize and disenfranchise a whole generation of leftists. Obviously RFK was doomed to die, but McCarthy could have still been the nominee. I’m not sure if he wins against Nixon or not, but he might have. And McGovern was going to lose no matter what, but it would not have been by such a humiliating margin if Humphrey and others did not lead the “Anybody but McGovern” coalition, delay his speech at the convention, and if one of them just swallowed their pride for a second and signed on as VP to avoid the Eagleton disaster. These two back to back losses, especially the lopsided ’72 election, ultimately killed the progressive movement. There have still been progressives in the party since then, but RFK was the last one with mainstream appeal and McGovern was the last to win a nomination. Like Hillary, Humphrey basically stole another person’s time to shine and then burned the house down on the way out. One delivered us to Nixon, the other to Trump. It’s been a constant downward spiral the past 50 years largely because of this kind of spiteful personal ambition.

It may be mean, but Hubert’s voice really is off-putting to listen to. It’s interesting though, to hear Humphrey call out the Republicans for their personal attacks and “long[ing] for a past that never was.” These charges are certainly true of the GOP now, but I had no clue they were happening so far back in time. It’s possible that other speakers at the convention which I haven’t heard were guilty of this, because Goldwater himself based his whole speech around philosophical platitudes rather than personalized attacks. Even Spiro Agnew, in harshly criticizing the Johnson Administration, refrained from calling anyone out personally or in a nasty way. In any case, Humphrey is right though, to call the Republican party of 1964 radical and taken hostage, since the Goldwater wing took over from the established Rockefeller one. In fact, in his harsh words against Goldwater (whom Humphrey mentions by name) I believe this just might be the very first time that a member of the rival ticket was ever called out personally. I believe Spiro would be the first Republican to return the favor in 1972. I have no access to any speeches before 1948 to go off of and the ’50s are very spotty in terms of what survives, so take this observation with a grain of salt.

I don’t know if its just his style, but the camera frequently cuts to Johnson as Humphrey is speaking and he doesn’t applaud or react in any way, like his own running mate’s speech is boring him. Honestly, I kinda like that about Johnson here. He’s commanding and stoic: especially with the glasses on, he looks very “Presidential” in a way that no president since has been able to capture. Johnson looks like a man deep in thought, with the weight of the world on his shoulders, as opposed to Jimmy “I’m in over my head” Carter and the weakling candidates of the ’80s. You compare this image of rock-solid steadiness with Humphrey’s voice cracking (yes, it happens a lot) and the difference is staggering. Humphrey comes off as somewhat out of his depth next to such an imposing figure. Much later, when JFK is mentioned, we also see RFK in the audience. Like LBJ, his rival, Robert does not applaud, smile or react in any way. He sits there with a deep look on his face and his hands together as if in prayer or meditation. Very, very cool how both these men who hated each other so much, one of the greatest modern presidents and the-second-greatest-president-that-never-was, have this same serene, impassible masculinity about them while listening to the same lackluster speech. With everyone else around them cheering, these two impassioned leaders are deep in thought, on a whole other level intellectually, if not metaphysically.

I’m not a fan of this kind of speech. There are a lot of platitudes, a lot of common idioms “Rome was not built in a day” and going between subjects frequently in a messy rhetorical zigzag. Humphrey goes from criticizing the Republicans and in particular Goldwater, to speaking about the Presidency and what it means, and then back to criticizing Goldwater for example. I’m sure there’s a method to this, but I prefer talking in “blocks” so to speak. Take a few paragraphs to tackle one subject thoroughly, then put it behind you and move on to the next area you wish to address. Don’t try to combine it into one frenzied web like this. I hope I’m expressing what I mean clearly here.

Humphrey makes use of the rhetorical chorus later in the address. McGovern’s was “come home America,” LBJ’s in this same convention was “and so do I” and Liz Warren this year was “Hillary will do it, and I’m with her” (gag). Humphrey’s chorus is to talk about some of the good things Congress or even just Republicans have actually managed to do, but emphasize that Goldwater had no part in that: “but not Senator Goldwater!” I do think he uses the line a little too much. I think a chorus ought to be repeated maybe 4 or 5 times max, while Humphrey’s is used like 6 or 7 here, to the point where it starts to get annoying.

With all the bashing, this seems to be the first and maybe best example of the VP being the attack dog of the ticket, allowing the Presidential nominee to keep their nose clean. I actually think there is something to be said for this approach, having one speech being more negative and then hitting them with a positive in the Presidential nominee’s address. However, there’s a danger in being TOO negative, if even just in the one speech. You go too far and you risk looking like a jerk. Since I’m talking about Hillary a lot here, I think she really fucked up in ’16 by having both Kaine and herself waste so much goddamned time attacking Trump, even more so when the entire convention was doing it as well.

Overall, not a terribly bad speech despite my many criticisms and my misgivings about Humphrey’s legacy on politics. I recall a comment I saw on Reddit about how Democratic Presidents (and nominees, minus Mondale and possibly Dukakis) since the ’70s have been darkhorses. That is, they were people who came out of nowhere, but captured the zeitgeist of the moment through charisma, vigorous campaigning and an understanding of the people and their struggles. I did not consider that, but it’s definitely the truth. The mantra that “Republicans fall in line, but Democrats must fall in love” is true. You cannot hoist a party boss who got there by backroom deals onto the Democratic voters and ask them to accept it—they will not. That’s the lesson of Humphrey and Hillary. If they were smart, would have realized that after 2016, but lo and behold, we got freaking Joe Biden well past the expiration date.

Walter Mondale (1976)

McGovern considered both Mondale and Humphrey to be friends, and to this day I cannot understand why. Regarding the former, Walter was asked to join the McGovern ticket just one cycle prior and he was turned down cold…but then he has no problem joining the goddamned Jimmy “Anybody but McGovern” Carter ticket 4 years later. Anyway, Mondale is also like Humphrey and Hillary in that he was the anointed one who was supposed to win in 1984. It was “his turn” and in all cases the party was blind as bats pushing someone whom the public obviously did not want. The DNC desperately needs to stop playing king-maker, because they’re terrible at it.

Even putting this aside, on his own merits I find Mondale to be a pretty off-putting person. Watching his Presidential nomination speech I found him hopelessly dull and uninspiring. Watching him at the primary debates I found him kinda creepy and mean. I will say that he’s better here than he was as the head of the ticket in 1984. He actually has a little fire for once. Mondale makes a pounding motion when he talks and inflects his voice a lot more for starters. There’s no real memorable lines though, no attacks on Ford or Watergate (missed opportunity), no real specifics on policy…just a lot of platitudes. All that said, this is one example where I think the positions on the ticket ought to have been reversed. 1976 Mondale was not only more charismatic than his later self, but than Carter and Ford too. 1976 was a bizarre and boring election where the least charismatic or inspiring nominees won both parties’ primaries, giving us what is easily the least interesting election of the modern, post-video era as far as I’m concerned.

It’s average. Painfully average and forgettable. The fact that it represents Mondale’s best says more about what a weak orator he was than any kind of praise towards this particular address.

Joe Lieberman (2000)

This was another really bad VP pick. I think it definitely hurt Gore’s campaign. Once again, the more Centrist/Center-Right/Establishment wing of the Democratic Party threw the Progressives under the bus. In 1988 it wasn’t as big a deal because Dukakis was so bad by himself that Bentsen actually raised the bar (though it still should have been Jesse Jackson as VP that year if you ask me.) In the ’90s, Bill was so charismatic and the economy so good that having the more Center-leaning Gore as VP wasn’t a big problem either. However, by this point Gore wasn’t quite strong enough by himself, and just enough of his other mistakes accumulated to make this election closer than it should have been. Overall, I think someone other than Lieberman would have swung the race the other way; it was close enough that every little thing could have swayed the tides.

Gore needed to drum up excitement and appeal to Nader’s growing popularity. He ought to have chosen Bradley, who was his sole primary opponent and who was more Left-wing than him on the issues. Bradley also would have balanced the ticket regionally as well since he was from New Jersey while Gore hails from the South. The only flaw Bradley had (that I’m well aware of) is that he’s an AWFUL speaker—one of the weakest I’ve ever seen in National politics. But even with that against Bradley, it’s not like Lieberman’s exactly known for his charisma either and he’s also an unapologetic right-wing Republican in all but name. I say that those who blame Nader for Bush have no idea what they’re talking about, and similar to the Hillary apologists they’re looking for a scapegoat rather than taking responsibility for their own nominee’s bonehead decisions.

Lieberman is the worst person of the modern era who has ever had the audacity to call themselves a Democrat, as far as I’m concerned, and that’s saying a lot. Again, on the issues he’s a Republican in all but name. He was a staunch defender of Bush and the Iraq War while he mercilessly attacked Howard Dean all through the 2004 primary debate I saw in Iowa. He’s the reason Obamacare did not come with a public option and thus, is doomed to fail. So, upfront, that’s my negative bias against Lieberman on the table. If there were justice, Lieberman should have been standing behind a pillory, not a podium.

And right off the bat, like he’s trying to piss me off, he starts in on the cliched (and often cloying) speech opener of thanking his family. This is admittedly kind of a weird personal preference of mine but I hate it when political speeches do this as their opener. It just feels so cheesy and even borderline-selfish. Call me a purist or a stickler, but for me the victory should be focused on your ideals and the supporters who got you there. The speech (and everything you do as a civil servant) ought to be about the people you represent, not your family or your personal achievement of being here. This isn’t a sports competition or some academy award ceremony. It’s not YOUR night to shine, it’s America’s, and the values you claim to represent. You are merely the arbiter by which these policies will be represented. You can thank your family and call out to your mother in law that you’re not the failure she thought you were at the end as a tension-reliever, don’t do it upfront as a momentum-killer. In Lieberman’s case it feels especially phony after seeing what a dick this guy was to Dean in 2004 and to all of America in 2008. I wonder how he made Dean’s family feel when he mercilessly bullied him through that primary debate, or how many families felt as they lost someone dear because Lieberman sold out on healthcare.

This obnoxious family-flaunting goes on for 5 whole minutes before Lieberman actually starts saying anything worth listening to and gets into Gore and the campaign. I will say I like the metaphor about the feast, and how it’s not about how big the feast is but rather how many are seated around the table. That was admittedly a good line. But then immediately after that, he goes right back into his family and another cliché I hate about political speeches. He tries to make his ancestors sound as working class and sympathetic as possible, to frame himself as the embodiment of the American dream. The line about opportunities which comes around 9 minutes in is so clumsy it actually kinda negates the impact of his earlier feast line too.

I like the attempt to reach across the aisle and quote a Republican (McCain) and call him a friend. That’s the kind of bipartisanship I want to see more of, not the public shaming spectacle that was Dan Quayle’s speeches. That said, I think coming from Lieberman, who’s best known as a “blue dog” it does feel a bit like “whose side are you on anyway?” when listening to this. It’s an interesting though risky strategy to attack the status of Texas as a way of delegitimizing the opponent. It’s like Cruz’s “New York values” attack on Trump in a 2016 primary debate that backfired spectacularly. The chorus “we see _____ through a very different set of eyes” is alright but kind of a mouthful. I also don’t like the weird, self satisfied faces Lieberman makes after every “zinger.” As if he were trying to bug me, Lieberman makes use of another speech trope I personally can’t stand. In this case, it’s making references to modern fads or events. I feel like doing this dates a speech that ought to be more timeless and universal, not to mention it feels like empty pandering. I called Bush Snr out on this, and here I have to call Lieberman out for his reference to Tom Hanks.

It’s a very “meh” speech overall, largely because of Lieberman’s monotone delivery, though not helped by those misguided rhetorical devices I mentioned. Along with Hillary, Joe is the person that best represents all that is wrong with the Democratic Party today—neocon foreign policy, neoliberal economics, Republican-lite on every issue that counts, token lip service to social issues with nothing tangible to show for it, belittling progressives, destroying liberal legislation and so much more. In fact, now that I think about it, it’s ironic that Hillary killed the healthcare reform bill that was being pushed in the 90s and Joe killed the one decent part of Obamacare. It may be unprofessional of me to say this so directly, but fuck them both.

Edmund Muskie (1968)

I expected a lot better from this guy, since he was the expected winner of the 1972 Democratic primary. But holy shit is this bad. Awkward jokes that fall flat, slow meandering delivery, and no real insight or purpose. He seems like a nice guy listening to this, but I can understand now why his support was described as “a mile wide and an inch deep” by the McGovern campaign, and why he was so easily trounced (I know the fake letter about his wife helped.) Basically, Muskie seems like the O’Malley or Kasich of his time. The sort of “meh”/”me too!”/”generic stand-in” type candidate. Perhaps that’s a good description of his ’72 Presidential run, but here in 1968, once again I see parallels between this election and 2016. Muskie is just like Kaine: very boring, middle of the road, nothing special addition to an already uninspiring ticket. In both cases, it should have been the exciting progressive who won the nomination first of all, but at the very least should have been given the VP nomination. It should have been Bernie in 2016, and it should have been Eugene McCarthy in ’68. Nobody remembers Muskie for anything but his supposed crying in ’72, and nobody really gives a damn about Kaine, but people still remember McCarthy and I think Bernie will have a small place in history too.

There’s some curious wording at the end of the speech too, when Muskie says he will “try to justify [my nomination]” That’s a pretty bad gaffe I’d say, and ties into the perspective I’ve just described, the “who are you and what are you doing up there?” feeling he invokes. A better phrase would be “try to do you proud”/”make sure you don’t regret that decision”/”do all I can for you in turn” or just about anything else. Another other issue I have with Muskie’s oration style are his posture. He’s leaning into the podium, rather than standing up straight. You may call it relaxed, but it looks sleazy and somewhat unprofessional for me when you’re campaigning on a national ticket. This also robs Muskie of the ability to make gestures with his hands. If that were not enough, his voice sounds like a squashed duck. His self-deprecating joke about his mom bombs and gets only polite laughter.

This speech reminds me of Miller’s on the Republican side, from 1964. Very stilted, slow, awkward, not really saying anything.

Walter Mondale (1980)

Ugh, that’s the creepy, off putting Walter Mondale I remember. That fucking smile though…who would ever vote for that? How could the DNC think he had a shot against Reagan? Just blows my mind. You can see that Mondale has lost his fire, what little he had, since last time. There are suddenly bags under his eyes, his voice is a lot slower and quieter, and he just looks downcast for whatever reason. He repeats himself a lot too, using the same phrases over and over. In particular the chorus “when we speak of ____”/”they spoke of ______ (in reference to the GOP convention)” is repeated like 12 times in succession and it’s just exhausting. As I was saying in reference to Humphrey’s speech, a chorus is an art. You have to strike the balance between repeating a phrase enough that it sticks, but not so much that people are groaning “okay we get it!” and wanting to move on. And there should just be one repeated choral phrase. You don’t do it with one slogan and then keep going and do it again and again with another: it not only loses the audience’s patience but each slogan loses its impact. Asking people to remember one line above all others? That’s why you repeat it. But if you repeat a bunch of lines, you’re asking the audience to remember a lot more stuff and it backfires. Makes sense.

Like, after that “spoke of” crap, Mondale goes on to repeat a few different lines about Reagan over and over again. One of them being “but not Ronald Reagan.” After so much tedium before, this new chorus just falls flat. And besides, it’s cribbed from Humphrey as we’ve just seen, which just makes it that much more lazy and groan inducing. This is basically a textbook example of what not to do when giving a speech. You can see the audience bored to tears too, then it cuts back to Mondale with that creepy smile on his face. In his mind, he’s nailing it right now. Between this and Carter’s own godawful convention address this must have been the most insufferable convention ever, or close to it. Later on we get treated to another chorus of “Ronald Reagan would!” and at that point it just becomes a farce.

Mondale badly miscalculates what the American people want when he talks about Reagan’s tax cuts as though that in and of itself would be perceived as a negative. He would have been better off not to bother, or just say “Reagan is a friend to the rich” or something of that nature. Mondale would make the same grave mistake in 1984 when he promised to raise taxes. It blows my mind how often these loser Democrats repeat the same mistakes. Kerry called his refusal to address attacks against him his biggest mistake in a 2004 primary only to continue to do so in the general is another example. And Hillary acting entitled, like her backroom deals had it all locked up while not campaigning in local town halls, addressing voter concerns or visiting rust belt states in 2008 and then 2016 is another. How the hell do you presume to run for the highest office in the world, with the most grueling job interview ever conceived of, and not learn from basic mistakes on your second attempt? It blows my mind.

This is one of the few speeches I didn’t bother to finish, along with W Bush’s two convention speeches, Paul Ryan’s, and Chelsea’s godawful introduction to her mom at the 2016 convention. After the 4th (!) round of choruses, I started skipping ahead. Overall, this is a terrible speech. Bad rhetorical devices, bad strategy (using tax cuts as a reason not to vote Reagan), and bad delivery. Compared to all other convention speeches I’ve heard, Mondale is by far the most tired sounding and old. Sometimes he tries to look spry and energetic by, I’m not kidding, bouncing up and down at the podium and it’s actually comical. You just have to wonder what the fuck the Democrats were thinking. In 1980, it should have been Ted Kennedy as the nominee. Carter should have been taken aside and told it wasn’t gonna happen, similar to poor old Franklin Pierce over a century earlier. Or else, Mondale should have been booted and Kennedy given the VP to add some excitement to this joke of a ticket in 1980. And the DNC was absolutely crazy to give the VP from a loser ticket the nomination against the very same charismatic guy who just trounced them. Imagine running Tim Kaine in 2020 for example—who would ever be excited for that? Walter Mondale and Hillary Clinton have got to be, back to back, the two worst speakers and weakest overall candidates the Democrats have ever fielded in the modern era. Period.

Tim Kaine (2016)

Kaine has to be among the worst, least inspiring, least exciting VP picks of all time. His disastrous effect on the ticket seems to have been overshadowed by all the other controversy and craziness of the past cycle and no mainstream outlets will call him one of the worst with competition like Sarah Palin or Thomas Eagleton. But I’ll go out on a limb and say I consider Kaine, along with those two, Joe Lieberman and Stockdale (Perot’s VP in 92) to be the VPs on failed tickets who did the most harm to the campaign. And I’d go even further out on that limb to say Kaine is the only VP whom you could make a strong argument for single-handedly costing his running mate the election. (Let’s face it, McGovern, McCain and Perot likely wouldn’t have won anyway but the 2016 election was extraordinarily close and any one difference could have been enough to swing it.)

The problems with Kaine are many—he was awkward, physically unattractive (it has an effect, I’m sorry), whiny, annoying and just overall someone that rubbed people the wrong way. The Republicans described him as a “beta male,” the Democrats found him to be too Centrist (he supported TPP among other things), and the independents were not swayed by an uncharismatic dweeb. The short and sweet of it is, his convention speech, the first impression to America, was also godawful. I’d even call it the single worst Democratic VP convention speech of all time and second worst ever after Paul Ryan’s. Say what you will about Tom Eagleton or Sarah Palin, who were admittedly bigger PR disasters, but at least they gave competent addresses at their respective conventions. In stark contrast, even if you like him and his Centrist policies, Kaine just comes off like such a goddamn goofball here. It’s so hard to watch, and especially hard to do so and not think “this was the best the Democrats had to offer???”

Kaine’s response to being chanted over by the crowd was very weak: “We should feel the Bern, but you don’t wanna get burned by the other guy!” That’s the kind of awkward, unfunny, unsnappy “zinger” I’d expect from Bush Snr or his sons. You could see Bernie smile, borderline derisively at him. Then Kaine nervously lists off some of his own accomplishments to compensate. He meekly asks if he can tell us a funny thing about the Senate, gets some quiet indiscriminate murmurs, replies “that sounded like a yes” and goes on. His “funny” anecdote (that everyone secretly loves Hillary) is also pretty lame and sounds made up. The whole thing felt like I was being spoken to by the host of a children’s television show rather than the second in command of America. This crucial moment in the speech, and the noticeable stuttering, gives me the air of weakness and (as Trump would say) low energy. Kaine’s forced Spanish also comes off as really transparent pandering. Were any Latino voters actually impressed by this? It reeks of missing the point–people wanted beneficial policies and change, not pointless “look how diverse we are!” crap like this.

It was horrible strategy to do a Donald impression on stage. It’s infantile and not at all clever or funny. It’s stooping to Trump’s level, which is a mistake a lot of Democrats including Hillary herself and Elizabeth Warren fell into that cycle. Also a bad idea to say “Hey Donald, what are you hiding?” in reference to the tax returns. It’s usually not smart to criticize your opponent for things your own ticket is already being criticized for. And since Hillary had her private server to avoid FOIA requests, and had avoided giving a press conference 230+ days straight during the campaign, and secretly sabotaged Bernie’s campaign, and…and… yeah. Not a good idea to break the seal on that line of attack. If I were rich I’d take advantage of tax loopholes too, the point is they should be fixed. Why haven’t the Democrats done anything about that, or made that a big talking point instead of solely focusing on the latest offensive thing Trump tweeted? They’ve got nothing to offer Americans and try to use Trump as an easy low bar, a way to say “hey at least we’re not that guy right?” Yeah…but you still suck even if you suck less. Why should I care?

There’s really not much more to say about the speech itself–it was just godawful and embarrassing to listen to. This is one of those which just has to be seen to be believed. So, I’m going to step back now and contextualize why this was especially frustrating for me, and disastrous for the campaign.

Speaking for myself as a Bernie supporter, the 2016 convention was a pivotal time. I had been grappling with whether or not to support Hillary, whom I personally despised but tried to rationalize by thinking “well, maybe she’ll at least get a few good things done.” Upon learning more details about the server scandal and the DNC collusion against Bernie which was just coming to light at the time, I was appalled and disillusioned. It was really gonna take somebody good to make up for her shortcomings, and like many, I thought it might be Bernie as a sign of peace and goodwill. And then in comes this silly pimple of a man who spends the whole speech awkwardly imitating Trump, repeating the same damn criticisms of him that had been beaten to death on the news and by every single goddamned speaker throughout the whole rest of the convention, and pandering to Latinos by speaking broken Spanish. I was floored that Hillary could be so tone deaf to give us this guy whom no one wanted, and who focused his energy on all the wrong things.

I can’t believe no one at the DNC couldn’t reason that maybe people already knew what Trump was, that his own supporters didn’t care and those who did were sick of hearing about it. I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to give the electorate a reason to vote FOR you. Purely negative campaigns which focus on “hey at least I’m not as bad as that guy” have always failed. Just ask Henry Clay (vs Polk), James Blaine (vs Cleveland) and Kerry (vs Bush). You need to inspire, you can’t simply coast by on a purely protest vote against the other person. Hillary essentially held a gun to America’s head (via her pied piper strategy of propping up Trump in the primary) and said “give me power or else I let this idiot blow the whole thing up!” and America called her bluff.

Kaine’s awful speech, his selection as VP by acclamation (so no one could challenge it with any other nominees,) coupled with the DNC email leaks, the silencing of the protesters throughout the whole event, Sarah Silverman’s obnoxious “you’re being ridiculous”/”we can fix this in post” quotes during her own speech and more were the final collective straw for me. I decided then and there I could not support this ticket, and the constant berating, bullying, condescension, and shaming I received from Hillary apologists when I shared that decision only convinced me further that I made the right choice. There was an arrogance and entitlement that permeated from Hillary herself, through all levels of the Democratic Party and its supporters among the laypeople that disgusted me. Kaine managed to “top” even my lowest expectations in the VP debate when he spent the whole time whining about how “offensive” Trump was, and demanding the stupid tax returns, rather than talk about the issues. If he was gonna focus on moral outrage, he could have at least brought up Pence’s record on LGBT rights and women’s issues as Governor of Indiana…but nope. Tax returns. What’s worse is the media collusion was even more apparent the next day as CNN and others called his performance “brilliant!” when everyone I know who saw it—even the Hillary supporters—openly admitted he was horrible.

The reason that Kaine was chosen, from what I’ve read, was a combination of two things. First, Hillary wanted someone who would never overshadow her, so she picked the most fugly, “meh” person she could find. And second, according to speculation, she owed Kaine a favor after he stepped down as DNC chair in 2008 so Debbie Wasserman Schultz could take over and begin paving the way for this very campaign. (When Wasserman Schultz’ collusion was discovered in the email leaks, Hillary immediately gave her a role in her campaign, some of the worst optics I’ve ever seen in my life. Well, that and Bill meeting with Loretta Lynch on the tarmac.) Both reasons are the perfect illustration of everything that was wrong about Hillary, and why she lost. It had to be her as the top dog, the Queen, even though she was toxic to her own causes. She was so full of ego that not only did it have to be her as President, but the center of attention (even though her own campaign knew she had to be kept out of the spotlight because people hate her.) That, and the corruption it took to get her there.

The unmitigated disaster that was 2016 is the reason why the Democratic Party is in such impotent disarray right now. That’s Hillary’s legacy, the woman who destroyed her own party and set back the cause of liberalism for yet another generation in the service of her massive ego. It’s a shame Trump is such an awful President, because now the narrative of ’16 has been concocted that “we should have elected Hillary!” rather than an honest, no-holding-back look at the worst Democratic ticket in modern (and perhaps all of) history.

Estes Kefauver (1956)

Kefauver was the runner up in the ’56 primary which renominated Stevenson. Stevenson’s original running mate was John Sparkman in 1952. Much as I love Stevenson, I think perhaps Kefauver might have been a better head of the ticket. He’s younger, more handsome, and somewhat more charismatic. Of course, no one had a prayer of winning against Eisenhower in ’56 so who really cares anyway? Also interesting is we see JFK get a shout out in this speech (he ran this cycle.)

I thought for sure this had to be just a fragment of a speech since it was only 6 minutes…but no! This seems to be the full thing!! And a good two minutes of it is just shots of the crowd, so it’s even shorter than that. Pretty crazy shit. He basically just gets up on stage, says thank you, says he’s gonna work to elect Stevenson…and that’s it. Short and sweet I guess…but not really. You’re running to be one heartbeat away from the most important office in the whole world, put some goddamned effort into it. We need to know who you are, and your nominee needs your help to excite the base. This just screams half-assed to me. I’ve heard many say that Stevenson in 1956 was a sacrificial lamb and that may be true, but it’s no reason to so blatantly phone it in. Even if the choice was last minute, and I’m not even sure that it was, so was Eagleton, Dole, Agnew among others and they all did far better than this.

For this reason alone I have to rank this as the worst. Nothing, not even bad oration, is more insulting than a lack of effort.

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