The best that can be said of Kamala Harris’ speech at the DNC on Wednesday night is that it was the second best of the evening. But putting it that way doesn’t quite capture the reality of what happened. Barack Obama delivered an incredible speech — a rhetorically accomplished, complexly argued case for defeating Donald Trump, and he delivered it impeccably, staring straight into the camera, drilling right to the souls of the American people.
In that respect, Harris was in an impossible position. Originally Obama’s remarks were supposed to follow the speech of the vice-presidential nominee, but the former president reportedly suggested flipping the order once Harris’ name was announced. That inadvertently set Harris up for failure. But if she had gone first, her pedestrian, disjointed speech, delivered in a tone of phony overacting, would have been largely forgotten by the morning. Obama really was that good, and Harris really was that bad.