The expertly planned and executed program covered a lot of themes -- in addition to the overall slogan: "Stronger Together." Honoring our service men and women and first responders was tied in with a heavy dose of presenting Hillary Clinton as a capable and strong commander-in-chief -- but also the softer, nurturing side of her caring and lifetime commitment to helping others. Daughter Chelsea painted that picture very lovingly.
We also got a good dose of "who we are as Americans," upholding our democratic ideals, our fairness and inclusiveness. We even got a strong dose of national security from the powerful speakers endorsing Clinton as commander-in-chief. These included former CIA Director/Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, plus an admiral and a four-star general who declared her ready and trustworthy for the job of keeping us safe at home and strong in a dangerous world.
Clinton even addressed her deficit as a speech-giver -- and then proceeded to give perhaps her best performance yet. Some of her other speeches -- a recent one on race, for example, have been great in content. But for this speech, she has almost mastered control of her voice. You could see it happening: her pitch would start to rise and take on a harsh tone -- and then she would modulate to a lower tone and more conversational pitch. She's got the idea exactly right . . . just needs some more practice.
But, I quibble in the face of such an historic moment. I'd say she more than met my expectations and came close to meeting my fondest hopes. She very wisely recognized and thanked Bernie Sanders for what he has contributed to make the party and its platform more responsive. In truth, both the party platform and Clinton herself are presenting the most progressive policy ideas we have ever adopted, and that is directly the result of what Bernie Sanders and his enthusiastic supporters have brought to the process.
Beyond Clinton herself, there were two standout speakers for me. First came the Rev. William Barber II, who is a gratudate of Duke University School of Theology, president of the North Carolina NAACP, and leader of their Moral Mondays rallies in the state capital to protest the policies of the current state Republican political establishment. In stentorian tones reminiscent of the late, great Barbara Jordan, Barber's moral authority boomed down upon the crowd like Martin Luther King, Jr. himself. He is the current epitome of liberal religious patriotism, and he set out to "shock and resuscitate the heart of the nation," analogizing the medical procedure seen in TV emergency room dramas.
"We are being called like our forefathers and foremothers to be the moral defibrillators of our time. . . .Other than Clinton herself, of course, the Rev. Barber would have been the big news of the night. But he has rarely been mentioned because of another speaker who came later in the program. Both had a moral message of great power and eloquence, but the second speaker touched the audience with such emotional impact because of such a personal loss -- which became a loss for us all.
"Jesus, a brown-skin Palestinian Jew, called us to preach good news to the poor, the broken and the bruised and all those who are made to feel unaccepted. . . .
"Some issues are not left or right or liberal versus conservative. They are right versus wrong. . . . We need to embrace our deepest moral values for revival at the heart of our democracy. . . .
"When we love the Jewish child and the Palestinian child. the Muslim and the Christian and the Hindu and the Buddhist and those who have no faith but they love this nation, we are reviving the heart of our democracy."
Khizr Khan was born in Pakistan and immigrated to the U.S. 36 years ago with nothing and eventually studied law at Harvard. He was the father of a Muslim U.S. Army war hero, Capt. Humayum Khan, 27, who died in Iraq trying to protect his fellow solders from a suicide bomber. With his wife Ghazala standing at his side, the elder Khan gave a devastating, shaming rebuke to Donald Trump and his anti-Muslim rhetoric and plans.
"Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. We believed in American democracy -- that with hard work and the goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings. . . . [We are] patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country."And thus, by the words and the moral authority of these two speakers, Donald Trump was reduced in stature to the smallness that he is, no matter how tall his buildings.
"Our son had dreams of being a military lawyer. But he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son 'the best of America.' If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.
"Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims; he disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He loves to build walls and ban us from this country.
"Donald Trump, you're asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. [He pulled out of his pocket a copy and held it up.] In this document look for the words liberty and equal protection of law.
"Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetary? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing -- and no one.
"We cannot solve our problems by building walls, sowing division. We are stronger together. And we will keep getting stronger when Hillary Clinton becomes our president. In conclusion, I ask every patriotic American, all Muslim immigrants, and all immigrants to not take this election lightly. This is a historic election and I request you to honor the sacrifice of my son and on election day take the time to get out and vote."