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Barack Obama and Kamala Harris’s Night at the Convention


Barack Obama and Kamala Harris’s Night at the Convention

Opinion|Barack Obama and Kamala Harris’s Night at the ConventionlettersReaders praise their speeches, and one explains why the virtual convention is “the best one ever.”ImageCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York TimesImageFormer President Barack Obama spoke from Philadelphia on Wednesday.Credit…Democratic National ConventionTo the Editor:Re “‘Do Not Let Them Take Away Your Democracy,’ Obama Says” (front page, Aug. 20):The Barack…

Barack Obama and Kamala Harris’s Night at the Convention

Opinion|Barack Obama and Kamala Harris’s Night at the Convention


Readers praise their speeches, and one explains why the virtual convention is “the best one ever.”


Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times


Credit…Democratic National Convention

To the Editor:

Re “‘Do Not Let Them Take Away Your Democracy,’ Obama Says” (front page, Aug. 20):

The Barack Obama we have come to know as a speaker with words that sing — measured, cerebral and unemotional — was nowhere to be seen Wednesday night. Instead we saw a passionate Obama, with a dark, clear and urgent message. With emphasis on more than 170,000 dead, millions jobless, our reputation diminished and institutions threatened, an emotional Mr. Obama warned us that this is how “a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

This was not just a fervent plea to elect Joe Biden. It was a gutsy appeal, breaking the unwritten rule that presidents do not admonish one another.

Susan Berger

Glencoe, Ill.

To the Editor:

Your front-page article’s appalling misreading of former President Barack Obama’s speech to the Democratic convention perpetuates the Trump-established notion that presidential messages to the public are merely self-serving. Mr. Obama’s appeal to voters to take “responsibility as citizens, to make sure that the basic tenets of our democracy endure. Because that’s what is at stake right now” is not about Mr. Obama. It’s about our country.

To suggest that his remarks are about legacy building is an insult to one of the few true voices of American leadership and to the citizens who share his horror at the current threat to the integrity of our nation.

Barbara Stark-Nemon

Ann Arbor, Mich.

To the Editor:

Re “In Accepting Bid, Harris Warns U.S. Is at Crossroads” (front page, Aug. 20):

Thank you, Kamala, for telling us in a most moving way exactly when and where you were born, thus quashing “birther” conspiracy theories about the legitimacy of your United States citizenship: “I keep thinking about that 25-year-old Indian woman — all of five feet tall — who gave birth to me at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, Calif.” So should we all.

Patricia Herzog

Brookline, Mass.

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To the Editor:

This Democratic convention has been the best one ever. My friends agree and hope we will never return to the packed convention floor, balloons and commentators shouting their analysis above the din. Whoever orchestrated this new virtual version made the best-ever lemonade from the lemons delivered by the coronavirus.

What do I like about the new format? Let me count the ways: Instead of the endless stream of speakers talking from the same podium, we see speakers with different backdrops and imaginative settings. The roll-call vote conferring the party’s official nomination was much less formulaic than usual — the reporting coming from the actual states themselves, with all their visual diversity.

We saw real individuals with their occasional bad hair and less-than-smooth delivery, alternating with those to-the-camera-born.

Best of all, we were spared the speeches punctuated by carefully calculated applause lines.

While we all hope for an early end to the pandemic, let us not give up the more engaging format for party conventions that the pandemic has forced upon us.

Mary Lewis Grow

Northfield, Minn.

To the Editor:

In Raymond De Fellita’s 2009 film “City Island,” Vince Rizzo (Andy Garcia) meets a son he hasn’t seen in years and invites him to his new family’s home for dinner. Without acknowledging the relationship, he asks his wife, Joyce, to make the dinner special. Exasperated, Joyce asks, “You want balloons or something?”

Watching the virtual Democratic National Convention reminded me of that line. Yeah, that’s what bothered me. Not the robotic prerecorded speeches, the missing cheers and ovations, or even the visibly strained attempt to make a party still at war with itself look unified.

I wanted balloons.

John E. Stafford

Rye, N.Y.

To the Editor:

I was impressed that the first two days of the Democratic convention included the participation of distinguished Republicans who spoke of the necessity of electing a competent, decent, empathetic leader to unite us. I’m grateful to John Kasich, Cindy McCain, Susan Molinari, Colin Powell, Christine Todd Whitman, Chuck Hagel and others for their very public endorsements of Joe Biden.

I only wish that at least one current G.O.P. member of the House or Senate would have had the courage to join them, placing their country above their party and their self-interest.

Sandy Treadwell

Ojai, Calif.

The writer is a former chairman of the New York Republican State Committee and a former member of the Republican National Committee.

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