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Opinion | Democratic Convention: Best and Worst Moments From Joe Biden’s Big Night

Nicole Hemmer Brayden Harrington, the young teen who bonded with Biden over their shared stutter. He delivered a moving speech that reminded viewers that when Biden was publicly humiliated as a child, it deepened his compassion. Hard to imagine a sharper contrast with the current president.

Liz Mair Possibly, just possibly, politicians will have learned tonight that featuring nonpoliticians works better than spotlighting the career officeholders and candidates. They shined: Brayden Harrington, the Biden family, the Currys, the World War II vet, the rabbi. The politicians bombed: Keisha Lance Bottoms, Gavin Newsom, Tammy Baldwin — even Pete Buttigieg failed to stand out.

Daniel McCarthy The overemphasis on the nominee’s family this last night of the convention made it feel like Biden is running for grandpa, not president. It’s a sign of how weak Biden and his program are: His campaign depends on sentiment, Covid-19 and Trump.

Melanye Price Biden was eloquent on issues of race, on the pandemic, on the economy and on the discomfort and uncertainty Americans are feeling. He understands the emotional appeal in elections. If he can maintain this level of emotion and discipline and effectively deploy Kamala Harris to attack Trump, there is a good chance he will win.

Mimi Swartz The nasty humor of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Sarah Cooper was a bracing reminder that niceness isn’t always the best way to get your points across. Ditto the return of the Chicks. Democrats, enough with the empathy. Time to put up your dukes.

Héctor Tobar The Democrats gambled big that they can rebuild the big tent of the party on the foundation of Joe Biden’s humanity. Millions more of us can now recite the details of his remarkable family and political biography. But the party passed on putting forth concrete (and contentious) policies to shape a post-Trump world.

Peter Wehner Senator Coons spoke comfortably about faith, including Biden’s Catholic faith; so did others throughout the D.N.C. Jon Meacham spoke eloquently about the soul of America. The military was celebrated throughout the evening. This was not a left-wing “culture war” convention; quite the opposite. It was meant to reassure Middle America, and I imagine it did.

Will Wilkinson The theme of the night, and the convention as a whole, was “Joe Biden is a good dude who cares.” If anyone who didn’t already believe it bothered to watch the Democratic National Convention, they probably believe it now.

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About the authors

Jamelle Bouie and Gail Collins are Times columnists.

Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) is a playwright, lawyer and contributing opinion writer.

Elizabeth Bruenig (@ebruenig) is a Times Opinion writer.

Nicole Hemmer (@pastpunditry) is an associate research scholar at Columbia University and the author of “Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics.”

Liz Mair (@LizMair), a strategist for campaigns by Scott Walker, Roy Blunt, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina and Rick Perry, is the founder and president of Mair Strategies.

Daniel McCarthy (@ToryAnarchist) is the editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Quarterly.

Melanye Price (@ProfMTP), a professor of political science at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, is the author, most recently, of “The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race.”

Mimi Swartz (@mimiswartz), an executive editor at Texas Monthly, is a contributing opinion writer.

Héctor Tobar (@TobarWriter), an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine, is the author of “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free” and a contributing opinion writer.

Peter Wehner (@Peter_Wehner), a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, served in the previous three Republican administrations, is a contributing opinion writer and the author of “The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.”

Will Wilkinson (@willwilkinson), the vice president for research at the Niskanen Center, is a contributing opinion writer.

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