“More workhorse than showhorse,” Chris Matthews glumly assesses Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, devoid of “lyricism.” Matthews says this in agreement with Hugh Hewitt on last night’s Hardball, who argued that the speech turned out to be a letdown after the “peak” of Michelle Obama’s speech. Matthews gets closer to the truth, though, by noting that the Democratic national convention got planned for a crescendo of enthusiasm … only the peak of it came Wednesday night, when Hillary greeted Barack Obama on stage after his speech:
Matthews also notes that Democrats may have misread the electorate by hammering on Donald Trump for selling fear. Matthews and Hugh both agree that’s a mistake — voters aren’t afraid, they’re angry, and they’re angry at the political establishment. Matthews scoffs at attempts by the DNC and the Clintons to sell themselves as agents of change — they are the political establishment.
Robert Costa does make a good point near the end about the anti-climactic fourth day. He argues that Democrats largely tried to avoid those issues and instead sold themselves as the patriotic party for muscular foreign policy and national security. “Oh, gosh,” Matthews groans, “so the Democrats will be the neocon party.”
Costa’s point hints at something all three miss in this analysis, though. The first three days of the Democratic convention aimed inwardly to unite their coalition, but the fourth day was an explicit general-election appeal to those in the middle and disaffected Republicans. The GOP convention, including Trump’s acceptance speech, appeared to remain stuck in the primaries rather than forward-looking into the general election. It might not make that much of a difference, but only if Team Trump gets its candidate to quit litigating the past and start looking to the present and near-future.
For right now, though, expect Hillary to get a bump in polling as Bernie Sanders voters reluctantly fall in line. Whether that lasts for very long is debatable, though, given the headlines Hugh cites that stepped all over the last day of the convention in the Friday news cycle. By late August or early September, we should have a firm view of the post-convention political environment, so until then don’t take polling too much to heart.