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Wed Aug 19, 2020, 02:01 PM

Pierce: The Democratic Convention Roll Call Showed America in All Its Vast Complications

The Democratic Convention Roll Call Showed America in All Its Vast Complications
Its natural beauty, its popular diversity, its hope, its anger, and even its imperial pretensions.

By Charles P. Pierce
Aug 19, 2020

etís face it. The Democrats Over America Tour í20 roll call on Tuesday night was a hit from the moment that Alabama kicked it off with Rep. Terry Sewell casting the stateís votes from the foot of the delicately illuminated Edmund Pettus Bridge. This may have been the greatest innovation in political conventions since the invention of papier-m‚chť. The roll call showed America in all its vast complicationsóits natural beauty, its popular diversity, its hope, its anger, and even its imperial pretensions. (I canít be the only one who was moved by the poignant appeal of the delegates from the Northern Mariana to the rest of us not to inflict El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago on them again because we can vote and they canít. Weíve done enough damage to these folks already without that.) Itís hard to see how this doesnít become a permanent fixture at these gatherings going forward. I canít wait for next week when the Republicans cop this device, also beginning in Alabama, with Roy Moore standing outside the Gadsden Mall.

In 2012, when the shebeen had just been open for a little while, I wrote something about Joe Biden that I stand by to this day. President Barack Obama had just put up a weird and listless performance in his first debate against Mitt Romney. Next up on the schedule was the vice-presidential debate between Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin.

Joe Biden is not riven with self-doubt. Joe Biden is not exhausted by the hurly-burly of politics. Joe Biden is not burdened by the weight of events and laid low by the constant battle against know-nothing obstructionism. Joe Biden is not going to take the stage tonight and find himself wishing he were anywhere else. I mean, god be good to him, as my gran' used to say, but Joe Biden actually likes all these silly performance pieces in which we insist he be engaged in order to stay vice-president. He revels in them. He would do ten of them a day, if he could. When I consider Joe Biden, and I look at the enthusiasm with which he throws himself into the various cataracts and torrents of hogwash that constitute our politics these days, I find myself looking at him the way I look at people who sky-dive or drive in demolition derbies. I have no idea why they do what they do, and I have absolutely no intention of doing it myself, ever, but, goddamn, do those people look like they're having fun.


That was a lot of what Tuesday night was about: warm-hearted hokum and national security. Once again, the Bush Administration Undead walked the parapets; this time it was Colin Powell and Cindy McCain, the latter in a long tribute to the friendship between Biden and her late husband. Jill Biden gave a lovely talk about the life she and Joe have shared, one that rang very true to everyone who has lived in a blended family. The overriding theme, however, was that Joe Biden is an easy guy to get to know, and an easy guy to like. He loves his job, even the strange parts of it, so much that he actually seems to be enjoying even the very strange context within which he is accepting the presidential nomination that heís sought, in one way or another, for two-and-a-half decades. People like people who seem to love their work, and that always has been the great natural advantage that Joe Biden has.

A wise old political head once told me that, sooner or later, at some public event, probably in Iowa, someone hands you a pig and your job in that moment is to pet the pig. It is not to craft legislation. It is not to be a vehicle for social change. It is not to grapple with the tangled and serious issues of the day. In that moment, your job is to pet the pig. Petting the pig comes in many different forms, most of them not involving a pig at all. Sometimes, it involves sitting in a school library while, from all over the world, people explain why they want you to be the next president of the United States. Your job in that moment is to enjoy yourself and not to be too concerned about how stone weird a way this is to decide who should have the nuclear codes for the next four years. Joe Biden plainly couldnít think of any place heíd rather be on Tuesday night. As for the rest of us, well, itís our job to do right by the folks in the Northern Mariana Islands.

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a33645343/democratic-convention-roll-call-virtual/

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Reply Pierce: The Democratic Convention Roll Call Showed America in All Its Vast Complications (Original post)
mcar Aug 2020 OP
PSPS Aug 2020 #1
mcar Aug 2020 #4
crickets Aug 2020 #2
nuxvomica Aug 2020 #3

Response to mcar (Original post)

Wed Aug 19, 2020, 03:10 PM

1. I wish I coould write like Pierce.

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Response to PSPS (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 19, 2020, 06:01 PM

4. I'm a writer. I so wish I had his turn of phrase

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Response to mcar (Original post)

Wed Aug 19, 2020, 03:26 PM

2. What a lovingly crafted piece about Joe and the unconventional Convention.

It's a joy to read things like this, that aren't angry or petty or trying to get me all fired up. It's just calm comfort, and that has its time and place, too. Well done.

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Response to mcar (Original post)

Wed Aug 19, 2020, 03:47 PM

3. "He loves his job, even the strange parts of it"

I see in Biden an exemplar of my philosophy about politics, and life: always decide in favor of innocence and against corruption. The three characteristics of corruption are sham, drudgery and obliviousness. We don't often think that engaging in drudgery is corrupt but I believe it is. That means whatever drudgery your work might entail, reject it and find the playfulness in it. Biden seems to do that, effortlessly.

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