Both President Clinton and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver did something unseen in Tampa at the Republican National Convention: Praise their opponents. For that reason alone no one is likely to even ask which convention had the better speeches. Clinton had good things to say about both President George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Cleaver defined what “all” should mean without exclusions.
The eight best speeches of the Democratic National Convention:
01. Michelle Obama — FLOTUS delivered exactly what was needed at the exact time it was required. “Brilliant,” said Charles Krauthammer. “One of the best speeches I have ever seen delivered by a first lady,” tweeted Anderson Cooper. Do you remember Laura Bush’s speeches? No you don’t. That Michelle Obama wrote it herself makes it even more impressive.
02. Emanuel Cleaver — The Congressman pastor from Missouri and Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus talked about how partisanship was crippling the nation and mentioned something the President did not: Hope. Cleaver spoke of the need for national unity with a power that brought delegates to their feet hours before primetime on Wednesday.
03. Jennifer Granholm — In a wild raucous speech that at times seemed like it was veering slightly out of control, Granholm brought reminded people that it’s a shame she’s Canadian and can’t run for President.
04. Bill Clinton — With a mix of myth, good ‘ol boyness and a Clintonian dash of self indulgence, former President Clinton gave a better argument for President Obama’s second term than Obama himself. Lines like, “It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did,” as he referred to Paul Ryan were vintage Clinton.
05. Julian Castro — After Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio talked about themselves at the RNC, the Mayor of San Antonio used a wink and a big smile to made it look easy. He also got people thinking about 2016 and beyond.
06. Elizabeth Warren — “Wall Street CEOs—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs—still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them,” said consumer champion and Senate candidate Warren in a speech that put attention on the middle class and common sense.
07. John Lewis — Not too many people in the convention hall, or in the country, can say stuff like, “I first came to this city in 1961, the year Barack Obama was born. I was one of the 13 original “Freedom Riders.” Rep. Lewis tied Jim Crow into voter suppression and the results were powerful.
08. John Kerry — With lines like, “Ask Osama Bin Laden If He’s Better Off Than He Was 4 Years Ago” and “no nominee for President should ever fail to pay attention to our troops in an acceptance speech,” Sen. John Kerry, attacked Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan on their lack of foreign policy experience. Suddenly Democrats have flipped the script on the issue.
LAUREN VICTORIA BURKE, Politic365 Managing Editor, publishes the blog Crewof42 on the Congressional Black Caucus. She can be heard every Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET on WMCS 1290 on The Earl Ingram Show as well as on WPFW 89.3 every Friday at 6:30 p.m. Ms. Burke is a former employee of USAToday.com and ABC News. You can e-mail her at LVB@Politic365.com and follow her on twitter @Crewof42.