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“The Sunday Political Brunch” - July 31, 2016

Sunday, July 31, 2016


It was a very grueling two weeks on the road at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. There were pluses and minuses for both sides, so let’s “brunch” on them this week:

“A Tale of Two Speeches” – The two nomination acceptance speeches could not have been more different. As I said last week, Donald Trump was forceful, disciplined, and angry. This week, Hillary Clinton was more inspiring, uplifting, and idealistic. But, that’s not to say she gave the better speech. Yes, she was trying to paint herself in sharp contrast to Trump, but who better reflects the public mood? Trump got to the nomination by touching the raw nerve of voter discontent; and Bernie Sanders nearly won the nomination by similar appeals to the left. It was one of Clinton’s better speeches and some of her humor (a rarity) made her more likeable. I give both nominees a grade of B. My big question for their programs is "How are you going to pay for all this?"

“A Style in Contrast” – The last time we had two politicians with such polar-opposite speaking styles was 1980, with Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Reagan could hit notes of anger and defiance (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” circa 1987), but he could also be lofty, with phrases such as “It’s morning in America,” and we’re a “shining city on a hill.” In July 1979, President Carter said in his infamous Oval Office “malaise” speech: “It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.” Reagan was an optimist; Carter was a pessimist; and a year later Carter lost his reelection bid.

“Weekend at Bernie’s” – The big post-convention question is “Where are the Bernie Sanders supporters going to go?” They have four options: Vote for Trump; find a third party, such as Libertarian or Green; stay home and don't vote; or vote for Hillary Clinton. Sue Thorn, a Sanders delegate from West Virginia, told me: "Right now I'm undecided. I'm here supporting Bernie, and we'll figure that out at a later date; but I am here representing Bernie, and I am very proud of that."

I also had this exchange with Franz Gorman, another West Virginia delegate, who said, "I'm just happy to be here and represent West Virginia, and I hope that we do win. I think that we need to defeat Trump, no matter what. That's the bottom line." When I inquired: "Can you vote for Hillary Clinton in the end if that's what it comes down to, Hillary or Trump?" Gorman replied "No I can't, I can't."

“Strange Bedfellows” – There were some surprise visitors to the media tents in Philadelphia: Libertarian Presidential candidate and former Governor Gary Johnson (R-NM); Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee and former Governor Bill Weld (R-MA); and Green Party Presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein. These are serious, talented, and credible candidates. I believe they will pull significant numbers of voters away from Trump and Clinton. Who gets hurt more remains to be seen.

“Best Food” – For many years, I have not only covered politics, but I’ve also done food reviews on the campaign trail, just like the late Washington, D.C., Bureau Chief for “The New York Times,” R.W. “Johnny” Apple, Jr. This year’s winners: Del’s Catering in Cleveland for its pulled-pork tacos with red cabbage slaw, and My Four Suns in Philadelphia for their Korean fusion tacos with a spicy “Yum Yum” sauce. Both catered the conventions on site, since there was no time to leave and dine out. Sixteen years ago, Johnny Apple dined at the table next to me at The Fork Restaurant in Philadelphia, still one of the greatest places I’ve dined in America (twice in 2000 and twice in 2008). Sadly, I had no time for a return trip during the DNC this year.

What are your thoughts now that the conventions are over? Just click the comment button at http://www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.


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