So, the chessboard is set.
Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination Thursday night, officially becoming the first woman to lead a major party’s presidential ticket. And the last person standing between Donald Trump and the nuclear codes.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Did she give the speech of her life? I’d say she didn’t electrify the crowd like Barack Obama, Michelle Obama or her husband, Bill Clinton, but she did what she needed to do.
She cast herself as the steady, principled, ready-to-lead alternative to the unpredictable Donald Trump.
“Imagine him in the Oval office facing a real crisis,” she said. “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”
She offered herself as a bridge between America’s warring parties, pointing out the country’s greatness even as she acknowledged its problems and fears.
“I know that at a time when so much seems to be pulling us apart, it can be hard to imagine how we’ll ever pull together again. But I’m here to tell you tonight – progress is possible.
“I know because I’ve seen it in the lives of people across America who get knocked down and get right back up.”
So, as the Democratic National Convention closes, this much is clear: Her all-star parade of character witnesses, from the Obamas to Joe Biden to Bernie Sanders to her husband, turbo-charged her quest to become America’s 45th president.
They replaced the “cartoon” Hillary of the Republican convention with their own – the real Hillary, as Bill Clinton put it. Hillary the idealistic public servant. Hillary the problem-solving “change maker.” Hillary the relentless political fighter. Hillary the loving mother, wife and friend.
Even so, Hillary versus The Don leaves much to be desired.
We get to choose between a woman who isn’t trusted and a man who isn’t qualified.
Please, don’t all stand and cheer at once.
If Trump’s advisors could get him to run a disciplined campaign and pretend to be presidential, America’s hunger for change could easily put him over the top.
But Trump’s gonna Trump. He’ll keep tripping over his own lip, as he did with his ill-considered “joke” inviting Russian spies to help tilt the election in his favor.
Such unscripted provocations keep his loyal base enraptured. They’ll keep scaring the crap out of everyone else.
During that same press conference, he showed his other liability: a thin skin when confronted with aggressive questioning from a tough, unflinching woman – NBC’s Katy Tur in this case. “Be quiet,” he snapped.
And now he’ll face Hillary Clinton, who can fairly be called a lot of things, but weak would not be one of them.
Those presidential debates will be popcorn-quality attractions, to say the least.
So, on we sprint to the fall campaign.
As Sanders’ North Carolina delegates gathered before Clinton’s acceptance speech, they were already rallying, reluctantly but surely, to her side.
Clinton isn’t the ideal choice, several declared, but Trump must be stopped.
"You don’t always get what you want," John Verdejo of Raleigh said. "That’s life. After Clinton is in the White House, we are fighting her."
“Like family,” he added.
A woman’s voice called out the now-familiar Sanders call-to-arms: “Forward together!”
“Not one step back!”
They’re not the only ones unhappy with their choices. The two major parties somehow presented us with the most unpopular presidential candidates in modern history.
When the election results roll in on Nov. 8, roughly half of the electorate will be elated. The other will be in tears, questioning how such a calamity could befall their country.
Will we still be a family?
I sure hope so.
Eric: 704-358-5145; firstname.lastname@example.org