TUESDAY: late. Jill Biden, the most compelling figure of the convention thus far other than Michelle Obama, pulled off a terrific speech with an added degree of difficulty maneuvering through rooms and cameras.

That followed an excellent introductory video about her relationship with the nominee.

The convention has done a pretty good job of making Joe Biden likable—as they should; there’s a lot of material to work with.

Prior to Jill’s star turn, there was a simple but effective bit earlier in the program where Joe sat and chatted with several of those ordinary Americans we’re seeing so much of, as they explained how the Affordable Care Act saved them and their families.

“You beat Hodgkin’s lymphoma, God love ya’,” Biden said to one of them. He added, to the whole group, “I’m gonna protect you like I try to protect my own family.”
Likable—or at least, not viscerally dislikable—is one of Biden’s main selling points.

That’s why the best line of the night might have been Bill Clinton’s, regarding COVID-19: “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead it’s a storm center. It’s only chaos.”

Maybe we can’t yet picture Biden as the commander, but at least he’s not constant chaos.

So it was kind of perfect that the night ended with Joe coming out to hug Jill at the end of her speech. “God love ya’,” he said.

Tuesday: evening

There is a lot of America on stage for this convention.

It began with an odd joint keynote address, featuring more than a dozen young, diverse elected Democrats tag-teaming in from all over the country. It continued with a well-executed nomination roll call of states, bouncing live to remote locations in all 57 states and territories.

Many modern Presidential nominating conventions try to pull in supposedly ordinary people and places, on stage or on film, in hopes that some sense of authenticity might rub off.

The virtual convention offers something different, and the DNC planners are making the most of it—while also highlighting the youthfulness and diversity the party is known for, and that Americans like to imagine their country supporting.

It’s a bit jarring, however, since all of that is being showcased in service of putting into power a white, straight, cis male who has occupied the Beltway power bubble for decades.

“We’re fighting for you; Joe’s fighting for us” proclaimed the motto accompanying the exuberant keynoters. The “we” are these in-touch 21st century elected; the “you” is the people living ordinary lives. “Joe” is outside of both, but at least sympathetic to the cause.

Same too for the power elites speaking in between those glimpses of real America. Senator Chuck Schumer, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Colin Powell, and even John McCain on video from beyond the grave—a parade of aged men who would never consider that their errors of judgment and action might suggest they get out of the way for some of those passionate younger men and women. And so, why wouldn’t they be there vouching for Joe Biden.

Tuesday: Early evening

There’s at least one way that pols benefit from the virtual convention: they don’t need to interrupt their campaigns to attend.

Richard Neal, the Springfield Congressman who represents the Massachusetts first district, is an in-demand party bigwig as House Ways & Means chair. He is also in the final weeks of a legitimate primary fight with Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.

It would be tough for Neal to leave the trail and pop off to Milwaukee for a few days at the DNC. In the virtual world, he didn’t need to.

Neal joined a DNC “virtual policy roundtable” on Securing Retirement for Working Americans, where he spoke of his efforts with the committee to shore up Social Security and IRA tax deductions—and of course to warn of Republican and Trump administration resistance.

He was warmly praised by his fellow remote panelists, all from major union organizations. Jim Murphy of the Teamsters said that Social Security will be fine “as long as we have chairman Neal as our champion.” The Bricklayers’ Timothy Driscoll lauded Neal for including the Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act in the HEROES COVID-relief bill passed by the House in May.

Labor unions, it should be noted, are significant sources of campaign funding for Neal. So it was a bonus to be able to join their panel, without leaving the home district.

Tuesday: Afternoon

Elizabeth Warren enjoyed a very warm welcome for joining the online meeting of the DNC Native American Caucus. She was praised by caucus leader Rion Ramirez, and by preceding speaker Congresswoman Sharice David of Kansas. Not to mention that the first speaker, Congresswoman Deb Haaland of New Mexico, was co-chair of Warren’s Presidential campaign.

Clearly, within these circles, the Massachusetts Senator whom President Trump still calls “Pocahontas” is not suffering much residual blowback from the controversy surrounding her claims of Native heritage.

Her appearance with the caucus, speaking just before fellow Presidential contender Cory Booker, might have gone unnoticed beyond those circles, if this was a normal convention.

Since it’s online, what happens in the Native American Caucus meeting doesn’t have much chance of staying there.

Even as the meeting was taking place, word began to spread among conservatives on social media. Tweets from Trumps campaign manager and several members of the campaign communications team helped.

The chat function for meeting attendees soon turned into a flood of insults, as Warren-bashers jumped into the open proceedings just to mock her. The DNC ultimately disabled the function.

Right-wing media outlets, including Daily Caller, The Federalist, and The Blaze, quickly posted stories about Warren’s appearance. (A Daily Caller tweet marveled that the DNC didn’t have any “reservations” about including Warren.) Others piling on included talk-radio host Mark Levin and an OANN anchor, so expect the story to reverberate on conservative media for the next 24 hours or so.

As for what Warren actually said: she enthusiastically touted Joe Biden’s positions on Native American issues, including support for Mashpee control of land in Massachusetts that the Trump administration is trying to reclaim. She also knocked Trump for, in her words, failing Indian country on COVID protection.