The four-night 2020 Democratic National Convention came to a conclusion on Thursday night, August 20 when former Vice President Joe Biden gave his speech and told millions of Americans why he is determined to unseat President Donald Trump on Tuesday, November 3. Biden is no longer merely the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee; his nomination is now official — and the Trump campaign's attacks on Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, will only become uglier between now and Election Day. Four Daily Beast reporters (Sam Stein, Jackie Kucinich, Hanna Trudo and Scott Bixby) analyze Biden's speech in an article published on August 21, and their take is that Biden's speech made it abundantly clear that he means business.
The article's headline puts it this way: "Joe Biden Wants You to Know He's Not Fucking Around." And the Beast reporters describe the highlights of his speech, which focused heavily on the coronavirus pandemic, as "more forceful than emotional — a sweeping condemnation of President Donald Trump that framed the election in Manichean terms of light versus darkness and hope versus despair."
The reporters make their point with specific quotes. Biden, for example, told viewers, "It was in our darkest moments that we made the greatest progress. There's never been anything we haven't been able to accomplish when we've done it together… This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme." And Biden stressed, "We can choose a path to becoming angry or less hopeful, more divided, a path of shadow and suspicion — or we can choose a different path together, take this chance to heal, to reform, to unite a path of hope and light. This is a life-changing election."
According to the Beast reporters, Biden's speech showed that "he was playing for keeps." Former President Barack Obama also had a very serious tone when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention earlier in the week, but Stein, Kucinich, Trudo and Bixby note that Biden's speech did not have Obama's "penchant for soaring rhetoric" and used simpler language instead. Biden, they note, told viewers, "Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to this nation. He failed to protect us. He failed to protect America. And, my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable."
The Beast reporters argue that two main things worked in Biden's favor during the speech. One was "the setting": because this was a digital convention rather than a traditional convention with a huge live audience, Biden did not "get sidetracked by the crowd's reaction or applause," they write. And the other was "expectations."
"For weeks," the Beast reporters explain, "the Trump campaign had painted Biden as senile, unable to finish sentences — let alone coherently address the nation. With a bar set indescribably low, Biden easily cleared it. He stressed the unprecedented nature of the dire times. But his message was also strikingly similar to the themes he had spoken of his entire career: the dignity of having a job, the inherent decency of the American people, the importance of balancing American might with American mercy, and the ways in which personal tragedy can serve as a larger purpose."