Andrew Sullivan Liveblogs the DNC, Night 2

The stage of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Welcome, I guess, to my New York live-blog of the two conventions of 2016. Settle in, calm your nerves (mine will be frayed enough for all of us), have a drink (or a joint), and enjoy!

If you want to send me your thoughts as the events proceed, email me at (if you’re a recovering dishhead, you can also always use the old email address). Please refresh to update.

11:21 p.m. In an image:

11:10 p.m. Well that was a well-done attempt to make the point of a history-making woman president, without having either Clinton tread too heavily on the theme. I’ll leave you with this comment from a reader:

Remember when you hated the Clintons? Admit it. You’re an old softie.

Heh. Here’s how I’d put it. I’m in the final stages of becoming a citizen of this country. I love this country with all my heart. And I want to help save it from the darkest, foulest demagogue I’ve ever come across in a Western democracy.

The Clintons are flawed people. But they are our last hope. That’s all I need to know.

11:04 p.m. A reader writes:

Take heart. My guess, Andrew, is that Bloomberg will take on Trump from the perspective of his supposed acumen in business, and Tim Kaine will go after him on his idiotic foreign policy positions. That’s what I’d do, if I were running the joint. Makes sense.

Some readers think I’ve been too negative, even cynical, tonight. Believe me, I am utterly uncynical about this election. I’m worried sick. We need to put behind us any lingering beefs, any grudges, any memories from the past – and you know how I feel about the Clintons’ past – in order to save liberal democracy. The only thing between him and us is her. So – against all my previous emphatic denials – I’m with her now. As passionately as I ever was with Obama. For his legacy is at stake as well.

11:02 p.m. I’m loving Meryl Streep’s patriotic feminism.

11:00 p.m. Heh:

10:59 p.m. Okay, this is an actress I can love.

10:56 p.m. I really like the choice between the “real” and the “fake”, the doer rather than the shower, the listener rather than the tweeter, the experienced pol rather than the untested strongman. It’s time to expose Trump as fake, as all bluster. and Bill Clinton did it. It dragged a little in the middle there, and I desperately want someone to take on Trump politically with the skills Bill has. But as a reintroduction to this figure we know so well it was superb.

10:52 p.m. Now the payoff, as he ticks off the real choice in this election. And he’s able to champion the police seamlessly with a plea for racial justice. Then he ends on an elegiac note, picking up the themes from the 1990s – thinking about tomorrow, and the future.

He tried to humanize her. And tried to shift the “change” mantle from Trump to Clinton. Again, he understands that this dynamic is essential in an election year when most think we’re on the wrong track.

10:46 p.m. “One is real; the other is made up.” Finally, he lets his political skills show. He’s now touting the “real” Hillary Clinton.

10:41 p.m. It’s dragging a little – because he’s telling us so much. Then he has a dig at Trump – man I wish he were doing more like that. Using him as a biographer is an interesting idea. But he can nail policy and politics – and that’s not his given role tonight. I’m grateful we’re in the Obama years now.

10:40 p.m. Nicely put:

10:37 p.m. Now he’s touting her ability to work with Tom DeLay. And, yes, this is Erick Erickson:

10:33 p.m. This is granular. Too granular? He’s making a case for her long career in public life. It’s a better case than I’ve heard elsewhere. “She’s the best change-maker than anyone I have ever met in my entire life.”

He’s using her boringness into an asset. It’s achievement versus flash; granular work versus grandstanding. A nice counterpoint to Trump.

10:29 p.m. Will he go there?

It would help her.

10:26 p.m.

After she was a Goldwater girl.

10:22 p.m. He’s so good. He’s slowly building the case for a woman who has worked her whole life in public service, interspersed with his dating tips. He speaks with brilliantly varying pace, weaving anecdote and argument together. He’s telling us a story. He’s reintroducing this woman to America.

10:20 p.m. Now he’s reminding people of her early work against segregation and in defense of Mexican migrant workers. Smart. Affecting.

10:17 p.m. Bill is telling stories and casting his usual spell. He reminds us that Hillary was once a Republican – and fleshes out her family.

10:14 p.m. A reader dissents:

I don’t think there is any saving the middle-income, middle-aged, poorly educated white guy from Trump. He’s gone. Forget him, Andrew. What Hillary may — may — have a shot at is social justice Christians, and old-fashioned, moderate Republicans embarrassed by what’s happening to their party.

So, appealing to moral issues that social justice warriors care about is a way in; appealing to sound foreign and domestic policy will appeal to moderates. She has to make THESE cases in these groups up for grabs, not muscle and flag waving bullshit.

Point taken. I’m just worried as shit.

10:10 p.m. Bill is looking good tonight.

10:01 p.m. Finally, some kind of statement – from Albright – with regard to Putin’s open support of Trump (and vice-versa). But it’s still very weak. They are fighting a candidate who has trash-talked the U.S., who wants to start a trade war, who wants to disband NATO, who wants to allow Russia to pick off Eastern Europe and the Baltics.

And they’re letting him get away with all this, with only occasional demurrals so far. They have not so far spelled out the grave danger Trump poses to our national security and world peace. I hope at some point someone has the sense to go for the jugular. Bill?

This convention seems to me to be aimed squarely at the people who are already voting for Clinton. If it doesn’t break out of this pattern, it will fail.

9:57 p.m. A reader writes:

We need a lot of red white and blue flag waving, and discussion of the US as the biggest superpower in the world. We need them to counter the claim from Trump that the US no longer scares our enemies or has the respect of our allies.

So far, they’ve ceded that issue to the strongman. Tonight is a platform for Venus after a four day Trump-fest for Mars.

9:55 p.m. Readers keep assuring me that national security will be addressed tomorrow night.

9:52 p.m. Not sure an endorsement of playing the gender card is going to help. Trump can play that card back – and win. In fact, it’s partly why he’s winning.

9:48 p.m. I’m not sure that the campaign against sex trafficking – however noble and important – is going to swing many votes this November.

9:41 p.m. They’re trying to make the case that Clinton brought peace to the Middle East after the Gaza assault in 2009. Oookay. Then her input at Copenhagen on climate change, and the crippling sanctions regime against Iran. Two fair points. And a summary of her foreign policy experience is probably a good idea considering the utterly untested Putin poodle which is the alternative.

No word, of course, on her worst decision: Libya

9:39 p.m. Another actress. Telling us how hard it was for Clinton to agree to be secretary of state. God this is lame.

9:38 p.m. The first mention of terrorism – from Howard Dean, tucked into a necessary and important argument about expansion of health insurance under Obama – and how it is at risk from a Trump victory. And then the best joke of the night – when Dean mimicked his famous Dean scream.

A little self-deprecation goes a long way, doesn’t it? Trump is incapable of it. Most megalomaniacs are.

9:37 p.m. A reader writes:

This paean to Hillary has been going on for well over an hour listing in detail all of her efforts on behalf of children, gun reform, first responders, reproductive rights, etc. some of it might be overblown but I defy the RNC to put together 5 minutes demonstrating anything Trump has done for anyone other than himself.

9:31 p.m. Two big reasons Trump is ahead are terrorism and economic insecurity. Neither subject has been tackled tonight. Bad!

9:27 p.m. Another fricking actress. How many women work as actresses? Why do actresses have some premium on political wisdom?

9:26 p.m. Again, tonight, there’s no mention of terrorism. After the horrifying murder of a priest in France today, it seems out of touch. They cannot risk handing this vital issue to the strongman. They need to get out of the defensive crouch, in which Clinton is so comfortable.

9:23 p.m. Given the latest revelations about Russia’s interference in this election on behalf of Putin’s poodle, Trump, it seems odd to me that DNC speakers have not repeated again and again the demand that Trump release his tax returns. I’d demand it again and again and again. He can’t pull a Palin on this one. And the media shouldn’t let him.

9:20 p.m. The payoff: a New York congressman calls out Trump for making money off 9/11.

9:17 p.m. Are they trying to turn 9/11 against Giuliani?

9:13 p.m. A reader writes:

I am a female attorney. And I have a soft spot for Hillary. When I see Hillary, I am reminded of many of the women attorneys her age who I have been blessed to work with. If they are still working on this field, it means they persevered through the gauntlet of hostility and sexism that was commonplace in the workplace and in law when they started their careers. They had to clamor for every opportunity and I and other younger women in our field owe them a debt for their fortitude.

She hasn’t been gracious at every turn – but what kind of standard is it to expect that she would be? She is not as charming as Michelle Obama – or as her own or Michelle’s husband. But she’s a talented, scrappy, detail-oriented incrementalist who will be deliberate and thoughtful about her responsibilities. I agree with Ezra Klein’s assessment. But in the male-centric worlds of law and politics, Hillary’s talents fly under the radar.

Another writes:

Quintessential millennial woman here. Just want to report back that I find Lena Dunham insufferable. I do like America Ferrera though. I’m finding a lot of women like me supporting Clinton. I think the Dunham-Ferrera pitch may appeal to the newer voters who are voting in their first election cycle. Other than that it’s a solid ‘meh’ from this millennial on their presence at the convention stage.

9:11 p.m. New York cops are now being defended … because they were victims of air pollution after 9/11. Clinton helped the cops get their full health benefits.

9:07 p.m. Another movie actress, Debra Messing. This is getting a little much, don’t you think? Who is talking to the anxious white working classes? Okay, we’ve got Joe Sweeney coming up 

9:02 p.m. Plus ça change …:

8:59 p.m. Barbara Boxer is now talking about Hillary as a “loving aunt.” Oy.

I understand why we’re getting this massive wave of female power and eloquence. It’s worth noting, however, that Clinton’s major problem right now is with white working class men. I cannot see how Barbara Boxer will win them over in an Oscar dress.

8:54 p.m. Ross Douthat stuck up for the DNC today:

There was schadenfreude from the beleaguered folks in the Republican National Committee as they watched Debbie Wasserman Schultz twist in the wind this week. But Schultz went down, in part, for doing the kind of very normal thing that they so egregiously failed to do — steering the party’s nomination away from the candidate of a passionate plurality and toward the candidate who (for all her many flaws) is closer to the party’s center, its consensus and mainstream.

In other words: Schultz lost her job but kept her party; Reince Priebus kept his job but let a hostile takeover happen on his watch.

8:48 p.m. Lena Dunham is a 2, she notes. I’m disqualified from disagreeing. But these two celebs – America Ferrera is the other one speaking – actually managed to deflect their celebrity and make a case for “stronger together.”

A potent line: “Donald Trump is not making America great again; he is making America hate again.”

This, I guess, is a way to reach out to the millennial women who have an understandably hard time embracing Clinton. It’s pretty effective, although, of course, I am the last person on earth to judge what millennial women will be into.

8:47 p.m. A reader writes:

I was a little worried that the mothers moment might strike some people as similar to the Benghazi spectacle at the RNC. No need. The contrast could not be greater. There was no divisiveness, no bitterness, no demonization, no hatred. Just heartfelt calls for healing, understanding, and improvement. Perfect.

8:41 p.m. A devastating video montage of Donald Trump’s foul remarks about women. It works because it shows the faces of women as you hear his voice. Then Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood gives props to Tim Kaine. I have to say, however, that this slowly building case for the equality and dignity of women seems a strange way to lead up to Bill.

8:39 p.m. A reader adds:

One last bit about Hachi! Hachi is thrilled that his owner has returned, and not the least surprised that he can occasionally still be a hyperventilating dick.

8:37 p.m. And now a message from a useful idiot:


8:30 p.m. This is an inspired way to convey the necessity of racial justice in policing, while in no way attacking the police. Again, motherhood is being used as political weapon. But this time, no one is accusing a politician of being a murderer; no one is blaming anyone specifically for these lives cut short; no one is fomenting hatred or bitterness. The rhetoric is from the great African-American Christian tradition – and it’s more authentically Christian than anything we heard in Cleveland.

It’s also – and not for the first time at this convention – a thoroughly female and maternal form of political suasion. It’s affecting me more than I thought it would.

Ezra Klein talks more about this female politics:

Another way to look at the primary is that Clinton employed a less masculine strategy to win. She won the Democratic primary by spending years slowly, assiduously, building relationships with the entire Democratic Party. She relied on a more traditionally female approach to leadership: creating coalitions, finding common ground, and winning over allies. Today, 208 members of Congress have endorsed Clinton; only eight have endorsed Sanders.

This work is a grind — it’s not big speeches, it doesn’t come with wide applause, and it requires an emotional toughness most human beings can’t summon.

But Clinton is arguably better at that than anyone in American politics today.

8:25 p.m. It’s amazing to see the second time in this convention when the place has stopped short to listen to an eloquent, passionate African-American woman. Michelle Obama and Donna Brazile now cede to this remarkable, devout, and honest human being. I’m in tears again. This woman is amazing – because her grief is being filtered through hope, and because her oratory is so soaring and so poignant.

8:22 p.m. A stirring video about the mothers of those dead from police violence. I thought it was an interesting twist in the video to have Hillary ask the mothers to lead her in a prayer. And one of the mothers silences the rowdy crowd to give praise to God.

8:14 p.m. A police chief now speaks about the “crisis of trust” in the police in communities of color. He’s a model of nuance and calm, explaining how we wants minority citizens to feel “safe and respected.” He’s actually attempting to thread the needle of concern for the cops and racial justice. “We can do both and we will do both.”

Now compare this with the primary colors of fear and simplicity last week. This kind of policing nuance is what we desperately need. But Trump has managed to so distort the debate that it can barely be heard.

8:12 p.m. A reader writes:

As a “recovering Dishhead,” reading you live blog the RNC and now the DNC, I feel like Hachi, the dog who waited for his owner at the train station every night long after the fellow had died, except the guy actually does walk out of the train station in my case.

Aww. Great to be sharing this terrifying ride with y’all.

8:10 p.m. And now we know why Eric Holder has never been elected to office. Donna Brazile had some serious mojo.

8:05 p.m. Here’s one reason I find myself backing Hillary Clinton of all people without a shadow of a caveat:

Yes, I know every day, Trump reveals more about his foul character and authoritarian instincts. But imagine an actual president treating his opponents this way. Imagine Trump having access to the NSA, the FBI, and the IRS. Imagine him warning an opponent that he “knows more about him than he knows about himself”. These are the words of a mob boss, not a politician in a liberal democracy.

It is not so much that Vladimir Putin wants Trump to win, so they can divvy up Europe between them. It is that Trump intends to do to American democracy what Putin did to Russia’s fledgling democracy – turn it into an illiberal Potemkin democracy in which the strongman always gets the final say. Trump is not even trying to disguise this agenda. He has told us quite plainly that he will use the powers of his office to persecute his opponents and put them in jail; that he will purge the government of any neutral civil servants; that he will pursue anti-trust action against media challengers; that he will demonize and quarantine a free press; and that he will order criminal acts in the military.

Against this threat, his ludicrous “policy” proposals are almost irrelevant. It’s our democracy he threatens. And our way of life.

8:00 p.m. I need me some vintage Bill Clinton tonight. He’s been a bit off his game the last few years, but he must surely understand why he is still needed at this point in history. His speech endorsing Obama in 2012 was masterful. And in this fight for our liberal democracy, we need all hands on deck.

Andrew Sullivan Liveblogs the DNC, Night 2