Last night, Joe Biden capped a Democratic convention like no other by underscoring the themes that dominated the gathering from the beginning: empathy, national unity, racial justice, and President Donald Trump’s failures in managing the coronavirus.
Now the question is whether those messages, which largely eclipsed a direct economic appeal to struggling families, can protect Biden’s consistent lead in national polls against the ideological counterattack from the GOP that’s certain to reach a new peak at next week’s Republican convention.
Biden projected passion, energy, and solidity in remarks that more closely resembled a grave presidential address from the Oval Office than the typical raucous convention speech. In his manner as much as his words, Biden offered a contrast to Trump’s belligerent volatility—and to the GOP’s portrayal of him as in decline both physically and mentally.
But while it advanced Biden’s goals, the speech, as well as the convention itself, had a conspicuous blind spot: The event did not deliver a concise critique of Trump’s economic record or offer a tight explanation of Biden’s plans to improve the economic circumstances of middle-class families. Though Biden ran through an extended list of policy goals on issues including job creation and climate change during his address, he offered vanishingly little detail about how he would achieve them—though, in fact, he’s delivered a series of detailed speeches laying out his agenda.