It’s official: The theme of the Democratic National Convention is don’t open a Swiss bank account. Sure there was lots of talk about women, Hispanic women, and the occasional nod to same-sex marriage (did anyone else not know that Kal Penn was gay?), but the more salient theme—from the Nancy Pelosi inspired all-female conga line, to keynote speaker Julian Castro’s moving address about his grandmother—was the virtue of the ordinary. Unless you’re a Kennedy, humble beginnings are the only beginnings at the Democratic National Convention.
If you think that all of the “grandma-came-here-with-nothing-and-worked-at-a-steel mill” stories are contrived, you’re probably right. “The Republicans are really good at narrative,” said one Democrat insider, who prefers not to be named. “We’re only just beginning to pick up on how important that narrative is.”
Enter Michelle Obama: Queen of Humble Beginnings. The First Lady looked great and spoke beautifully about her husband’s prized possession: a coffee table he found in the dumpster. Apparently, said Ms. Obama, his car was a piece of junk and his shoes were a half-size too small.
In other words, if Ann Romney’s problems are real, Michelle Obama’s are realer.
The Democrats’ use of narrative so far–(the narrative that the American dream is possible only through government programs, subsidies and general sense of togetherness) was so theatrical it was almost Republican. But Michelle gave a great speech, whether she “pulled herself up by the bootstraps” or not.
Some notable quotes:
‘‘And believe it or not, when we were first married, our combined monthly student loan bill was actually higher than our mortgage. We were so young, so in love, and so in debt.”
“That’s why Barack has fought so hard to increase student aid and keep interest rates down, because he wants every young person to fulfill their promise and be able to attend college without a mountain of debt.’’
‘‘For Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the differences you make in people’s lives.’’
“And I didn’t think that it was possible, but let me tell you today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago, even more than I did 23 years ago, when we first met.’’