It was the most important speech of his life, and Joe Biden nailed it.
What America saw and heard at the culmination of the Democratic National Convention was a plainspoken, patriotic man deliver a tribute to the country and the people he loves — and a harsh rebuke to the man who has stirred up the country’s darkest demons, which Biden vowed to banish once and for all.
The passages early on in the speech about the pandemic, Donald Trump’s failures in fighting it and Biden’s own promise to defeat it, were important because they hit the president at his most vulnerable spot. Other references to policy were significant and well delivered, too — including lines about wiping out the stain of racism, defending Social Security and Medicare, supporting a living wage, and working for a secure, peaceful, and prosperous world.
But what mattered most of all is that Biden spoke clearly, passionately, and lucidly about the country, without any hint of the geriatric incapacity the Trump campaign has been alleging, and in a way that will appeal to a great many Americans. He offered a vision of a nation less vulgar and cruel, more compassionate and decent, less cramped and close-minded, and more earnest and idealistic than the one we’ve seen since Trump activated a darkness in the country’s soul. In place of American carnage, Biden is offering the promise of a better future, of the purposeful pursuit of very old American ideals by way of incremental social-democratic reforms and a reaffirmation of “our love for each other.”
An awful lot of Americans will find the prospect of purging the darkness of the Trump era an appealing one — and they will be pleased to empower Biden to undertake the exorcism. Whether there will be enough of these voters to make the difference on Election Day is another matter. But at least Democrats can know that their nominee made the best case he could when it counted. Damon Linker