I didn’t watch much of the DNC live, but I have been catching up on YouTube. I won’t go so deep as to talk about the issues, but I had enough thoughts about the rhetoric that I figured I would offer up my rankings on the best speeches at the convention. Overall, I thought that they were generally pretty good. I was particularly impressed by the variety of topics and approaches across the speeches: I underestimated the number of appeals that they could make and how they could use different speakers.
Anyways, here were my rankings.
10. Corey Booker
Not a lot of emotional range in his speech: pretty much all of it was pretty equally intensely positive. I thought the structure of the speech was pretty clever in starting with an appeal to moral values and community. However, I don’t think he talked about it in a very accessible way (though maybe I was just getting bored because I had watched his speech after 3 others). At least he got the “we will rise” in there to get the crowd going.
9. Tim Kaine
Tim’s speech was kind of cute. Most of it was spent introducing himself and his background, which I think was the right thing to do on the national stage but ultimately not so inspiring. He also did a Trump impression saying “believe me”: I think it was a clever argument but kind of cheesy.
Also, I have heard Tim speak twice so far, and I’m already tired of the Spanish. I hope it is legitimately more appealing to other voters, because if not, this could be a long season.
8. Bernie Sanders
Despite having not voted for Bernie in the primaries, I almost entirely agree with his platform and find him to be incredibly genuine. I’m glad that Bernie spent a lot of time talking to his supporters about the campaign they ran and the progressive movement they pushed for. However, I thought he got boring towards the end once he started listing off items on the platform.
7. Elizabeth Warren
I appreciated that Elizabeth had a lot of optimism in her speech, and she talked quite a bit more about the Democratic party and current political climate than most others. I think she did a good job appealing to the same concerns that appear to be driving people to the right this election cycle. Like Bloomberg, though, I think she really does come off more cerebral than inspiring.
6. Michael Bloomberg
I have been a big Michael Bloomberg fan for a long time: he seems like a very pragmatic, realistic sort of guy who gets things done. However, he’s not a really inspiring speaker: I don’t think he presents much emotion. I would summarize his speech in 2 points. First, he’s an independent, and if you’re an independent, you should vote for Hillary. Second, he’s a great businessman, and Trump is a terrible businessman.
5. Bill Clinton
I think Bill gave a much better speech 8 years ago when he spoke for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. This time, his role was quite different primarily in humanizing Hillary and demonstrating her long history of tenacity in public service. It was quite informative for me because I’m too young to know most of her accomplishments.
However, I don’t think what he said can really change minds. As he pointed out in his speech, what you hear from the RNC and what you hear from Bill are drastically different portrayals, and I would guess that most voters already know which story fits into their view of Hillary.
4. Hillary Clinton
Hillary’s speechwriter is all about the cheesy lines like “stick with the king and stick it to the king.” I’ll admit that I laughed, but I wouldn’t say that it was really witty.
I think Hillary pretty much did everything with her speech, but it ended up a little thin because of that. I don’t think Hillary stirred much emotion in me, but I’m frankly okay with that. She had an interesting pitch in owning her boringness and penchant for talking about policies. I am a fan of wonks.
3. Michelle Obama
Michelle’s angle was about raising her own children and how children see the president as a role model. Interesting tack to make an appeal to character by thinking about who makes a good role model and also have voters think from the perspective as a president. She shifted into a more traditional pitch about Hillary’s qualifications in the middle, which was a bit less interesting. Her attack on Trump was more indirect by talking about undesirable qualities in a president that happen to be attached to Trump as well.
2. Joe Biden
After listening to Joe, I can’t imagine how him and Barack could ever lose any election. Joe has a type of familiarity that makes him feel like a personal friend, and he put together a very charged attack on Donald Trump. He managed to show incredible emotional range from quieting the crowd with softly-spoken arguments to hooting and hollering about the strength of the United States and its citizens. I felt incredibly inspired and convinced by his speech.
1. Barack Obama
Most of the speeches I have heard from Barack are his State of the Union addresses. I love the agendas he puts forth, but the structure of the speech doesn’t really show off what a phenomenal speaker he is.
Although his speech was one of the longer ones, it didn’t drag, and he managed to really talk about everything and do it well. He talked about what has been accomplished over the last 8 years under a Democratic president (i.e. built his own legacy). He talked about Clinton’s credentials first-hand. There were appeals to conservative values when he talked about mother growing up in Kansas. It was an incredibly smart speech.