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Five takeaways from the last night of the Democratic convention

1. A speech that worked. Hillary Clinton had to accomplish a lot with this speech, and she did -- if viewers stuck with her through the meandering first half and waited for the red meat in the second. The red meat, of course, consisted of hunks of Donald Trump's hide. She mocked the GOP nominee for saying he could fix everything himself, and, in an epic takedown, said: "A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man you can trust with nuclear weapons." But there was more to the speech than just snark. She acknowledged that in her life of public service, "the service part has always come easier to me than the public part," deftly admitting early that this plainspoken speech wouldn't match some of those from earlier in the week. And she portrayed herself as someone who gets it, who understands that the economy still isn't all the way back from the Great Recession no matter what the numbers say.

[In her own words: Quotes from Hillary Clinton's speech]

So did the workmanlike speech Clinton gave Thursday night help her? Yes, probably, in that it showed a Democratic candidate who speaks about more important things than herself. But it's also important to remember that you should never  judge a politician by words alone – especially when she's part of a political couple that always seems to waltz near the edge of the ethical abyss. So instead of watching her speech, time would be better spent checking out her record on Politifact, which makes her look like much more the truth-teller than Republican Donald Trump.


2. The woman card, again. It’s sort of a mystery why Donald Trump bashes Hillary Clinton for trying to address the concerns of women voters when such bashing risks alienating more than half the adult population. Given that opening – and a lifelong commitment to women’s rights – Clinton has used this convention to turn Trump’s words against him again and again. Thursday, for example, the convention guests got to enjoy a video mash-up of Trump’s greatest, um, hits.

Now we all know by now that Trump has called women “pigs” and “slobs” and “disgusting” and the like, but one of the secrets to politics is repetition. And repeated reminders won’t do anything to endear America’s women to the Republican nominee.

3. A lesson in diversity. This entire convention has been an exercise in energizing America’s minorities to vote in November, and never was the message more blatant than it was Thursday.

Rep. Ted Lieu of California, an Asian-American, talked of serving as a colonel in the Air Force Reserves.

Rep. Joaquin Castro noted that his grandmother was a 6-year-old orphan when she arrived in America, not a rapist or murderer.

And most movingly of all, Khizr Khan, a Muslim American from Virginia who lost his son, an Army soldier, in Iraq, addressed Trump directly, saying: “You have sacrificed nothing. We cannot solve our problems by building walls and sowing divisions. We are stronger together.”

Together, Thursday’s speakers painted an entirely different picture of America than Trump did last week – and they told voters that they needed to go to the polls in November to protect the America they love.

[Trump offers a powerful incentive for minorities to back Clinton]

4. The Democrats stole patriotism. If you just looked at the crowd and didn’t listen too closely to the speeches, you might think you were watching a Republican convention Thursday night. Thousands of people shouted “USA” in unison and held up signs saying the same. Flags waved from every corner of the arena. And on the stage, retired Marine Gen. John Allen stood before a platoon of veterans and declared that he was committed to the candidate that would keep America strong: Democrat Hillary Clinton.

It was stunning, really: a political party riven with divisions over military matters ever since the Vietnam War, recasting itself as the party that will keep the nation safe. And for that you can thank Donald Trump, whose threats to back away from America’s NATO commitments and his bromance with Vladimir Putin gave Democrats an opening to rebrand themselves as the patriot party.

5. The Democrats know stagecraft. From the USA signs to the cellphone flashlights that illuminated Katy Perry’s performance, Thursday night was one more piece of proof that the Democrats have really learned how to put on a show. Remember: That’s what this is, a four-night infomercial for the party, and this one turned out very well for the Democrats.

GOP consultant Matt Machowiak tweeted, “This Democratic convention has been an unmitigated disaster for the GOP. Very well produced. Unifying. Patriotic. Bravo.”

One reason: the Dems have it all over the Republicans when it comes to star power. Look at it this way. The Dems gave us Meryl Streep. The Republicans gave us Scott Baio.

Enough said.


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