Night one of the virtual Democratic National Convention descended into cringeworthiness on multiple occasions. It featured awkward State-of-the-Union response-style political speeches, interspersed with musical interludes and glorified Zoom meetings. It was emceed by a Hollywood celebrity, at times giving off major telethon vibes. I can't imagine a normal human voluntarily tuning in at the beginning of the program and making it through the entire two hours. But if Republicans are tempted to point and laugh, they should humbly recall that their turn comes next week, and the strange, unprecedented format likely won't be any easier for them. Democrats have the entertainment industry's most glittering creative talents at their disposal, and they came up with...that.
Some speakers were stronger and more effective than others. A few were downright awful. Some of the pre-packaged content was painful to watch. Setting aside my myriad disagreements with some of her tendentious points, warmed-over platitudes, and callbacks to an administration that I do not recall fondly, Michelle Obama stole the show by delivering an impactful and compelling speech with no live audience -- which is really hard to do. I'll leave it to others to gush over the former First Lady; it was another speech that stuck with me as the most telling and potentially politically-consequential of the entire evening. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's performance was shocking and almost obscene. Watch it for yourself:
(1) He called COVID-19 "the European virus," which is dumb, unscientific Trump trolling that lets China off the hook for their well-established lies and cover-up -- which entailed deadly delays and the "disappearing" of whistleblowers. The virus originated in China and spread around the world as the regime in Beijing withheld and suppressed crucial information, opacity that continues to this day. These facts were subordinated in the pursuit of scoring cheap rhetorical against the president. This offers aid and comfort to the CCP and undermines Democrats' fanciful self-appointment as the supposed adults in the room.
(2) "In many ways, COVID is just a metaphor," Cuomo intoned. Yes, he actually said this. He, being the governor of a state that has literally and non-metaphorically lost more than 32,000 people to the virus. This was an unfathomably ill-conceived line, which was somehow both scripted and approved.
(3) "For all the pain and all the tears, our way worked. And it was beautiful," Cuomo said. Ah. So the claim is that New York's way -- which entailed shocking incompetence and dysfunction, lethal mismanagement, catastrophic nursing home policies, and brazen cover-ups -- "worked." New York has the highest COVID death toll in the nation by far and is neck-and-neck with New Jersey for the worst death rate. Horrifyingly, the virus ran its course in these places. Framing any of this as a "beautiful" success goes beyond mere tone-deafness. It's unforgivable and insulting. It's worse than "it is what it is," which was bad.
All three of these observations signify opportunities for Republicans to aggressively counter one of the Democrats' recurring and potent themes. A more modest critique would be accurate and pretty damning, but as we saw from Kamala Harris last week, the opposition is overreaching (including their insistence on drawing a specious and anti-factual Ebola comparison). National Democrats have made the proactive choice to hold up Andrew Cuomo as their COVID champion, and the party's nominee has endorsed this coronation:
They are currently and confidently asserting that they would have performed better than Trump under the same trying circumstances. This assertion is crippled when they hold up Cuomo as their model of success. He presided over the biggest COVID disaster in the nation, which was more painful and more deadly than it needed to be because of his decisions and actions. And he's currently -- right now -- cooking the books to camouflage one of his most glaring and lethal failures. Joe Biden is counting on widespread dissatisfaction with Trump's management of the virus (which has left quite a lot to be desired) to be a major factor in the election. Yet he's applauding Cuomo's "leadership" and hailing New York's debacle as an "example" for "all Americans." It would be malpractice for Republicans not to "pounce" on this.
Democrats ran a video last night that starred a young woman who lost a loved one to Coronavirus, in which she laid the tragic death directly at the feet of the president. If that sort of attack is in bounds, then Andrew Cuomo has a lot to answer for, as does the party that is actively celebrating Cuomo's record on this front. "Trump has failed us" is a stinging rebuke. But Democrats aren't answering the inevitable follow-on question of "okay, so who handled the virus well?" with "Andrew Cuomo," which is indefensible and ripe for bruising counterattacks. They deserve them. I'll leave you with this, which anti-DeSantis Florida "whataboutists" apparently need to be reminded of again and again:
Florida — with two million more residents and many more vulnerable senior citizens — has less than one-third of New York’s deaths. So yes. https://t.co/eSKTKqQNZp— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 18, 2020
UPDATE - Unreal:
New: Gov. Cuomo on Oct. 13 will publish a book on the pandemic, “American Crisis” pic.twitter.com/7hYhD73AuK— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) August 18, 2020
if it comes out in October, he likely was writing it months ago. I wonder if he started it before or after he quietly reversed his lethal nursing homes policy & changed the way the state counts those deaths.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 18, 2020