One Convention Takeaway: 5 Words From Michelle Obama

She turns 'it is what it is' around on the president
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2020 6:21 AM CDT
One Convention Takeaway: 5 Words From Michelle Obama
In this image from video, former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020.   (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Much of the analysis from the first night of the Democratic convention centers on the closing speech from Michelle Obama. (Watch it in full here, via CNN.) Examples of reaction on that and more:

  • Not Barack: At Politico, Ryan Lizza thinks "this is surely the first time a president’s wife has repudiated her husband’s core observation about American politics as outdated and incorrect." He's referring to Barack Obama's statement 16 years ago that there are no blue states or red states. On Monday, Michelle Obama observed that "my message won't be heard by some people” because “we live in a nation that is deeply divided, and I am a Black woman speaking at the Democratic Convention.”
  • Big line: Referring to Trump's "it is what it is" response to the coronavirus death toll, the former first lady turned it around on him. Trump, she said, "has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is." At the Washington Post, Aaron Blake writes: "In a speech in which she also made a personal and unusually political case for her husband’s former vice president and implored viewers to prepare for obstacles when voting, it’s that line about Trump that could live on."
  • More on that: Axios also takes note of the "it is what it is" slam. "Those five words—down from her seven-word catchphrase at the 2016 convention, 'When they go low, we go high'—have become a cultural shorthand for Trump's handling of the virus," write Alexi McCammond and Margaret Talev.

  • Key point: Chris Cillizza at CNN has Michelle Obama in his winners category from the night because she delivered a "powerful speech that hit at the core of what I believe is the most glaring personality flaw in President Donald Trump: A complete lack of empathy."
  • Trump responds: Trump responded in morning tweets, asking someone to tell the former first lady that it was her husband's job performance that got him elected in 2016. On Monday night, he retweeted a sentiment of GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham: "My view of what life was like after the Obama presidency is much different than that of (the former first lady)."
  • Enthusiasm: On another point, an AP analysis notes that the first night showed the challenges of trying to pull off a convention without a live audience. Democrats learned that maintaining "virtual enthusiasm" is a huge hurdle to overcome. "Conventions have long been derided in some circles as infomercials," write Bill Barrow and Nicholas Riccardo. "Now the evolution is complete."
(More Democratic National Convention stories.)

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