Matthew Continetti

Revenge of the Normies

Republicans Hold Virtual 2020 National ConventionThe 2020 Republican National Convention is the Trump presidency in microcosm: precedent is overturned, norms disregarded, and authorities ignored or dismissed in favor of the men and women who comprise the Trump coalition. It's polarizing and riveting. And the whole thing makes for great television.

The Mirror-Image Convention

Maximo AlvarezThe first night of the 2020 Republican National Convention was a mirror image of last week's Democratic telethon. The issues that the Democrats ignored—violence in the cities and China—were mentioned again and again. Where the Democrats showcased elected officials and celebrities, some of the most effective speeches on night one of the RNC came from lesser-known individuals such as activist Andrew Pollack, Cuban immigrant Maximo Alvarez, and nurse Amy Ford. The phrase "systemic racism" wasn't heard. But paeans to American greatness and American exceptionalism limned each address.

The Sleight-of-Hand Convention

Joe Biden Accepts Party's Nomination For President In Delaware During Virtual DNCJoe Biden delivered the best speech in a half-century political career on Thursday night. It was interesting to contrast his delivery with Kamala Harris's 24 hours earlier. Both the presidential and vice-presidential nominee spoke to an empty hall. But Biden was forceful, emotional, emphatic, and clear-sighted as he made the case for an effective federal response to the coronavirus and a bipartisan reconstruction of the American polity after decades of increasing polarization. I couldn't help thinking what the world would look like if Biden had disobeyed President Obama and run for president in 2016.  It would be a very different place, I imagine.

It’s Still Barack Obama’s Party

ObamaThe programmers behind the Democratic National Convention must have known they had a problem. Major speeches, from Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, and Kamala Harris, had to be included in the 10 p.m. hour to guarantee the widest audience. How then to fill up the first 60 minutes? They settled for videos and speeches about a mishmash of hot button cultural issues: gun violence, immigration, climate change, women's rights, and domestic violence. I found Gabby Giffords's speech moving, but the rest was a snooze. An Obama-Trump voter in Michigan, Wisconsin, or Pennsylvania would probably view with skepticism this litany of progressive causes. Then she would change the channel as soon as Hillary Clinton appeared onscreen.

Joe Biden’s AOC Problem

Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez struck a dissonant note in an otherwise well-orchestrated second night of the Democratic National Convention. The freshman congresswoman's highly anticipated speech was devoted to seconding Bernie Sanders's nomination. Where much of the programming celebrated the geographic and population diversity of America, Ocasio-Cortez impugned American society for its misogyny, racism, and colonization. She said it was Sanders, not his rivals, who could lead the country out of its overlapping social, economic, and health crises. Unlike Sanders, however, Ocasio-Cortez said hardly a word about the actual Democratic nominee. On Monday, Sanders urged his movement to back Biden in November. On Tuesday, we learned why he felt it was necessary to be so emphatic. The reason is voters like Ocasio-Cortez.

The Scattershot Convention

Democrats Hold Unprecedented Virtual Convention From MilwaukeeThe first night of the virtual Democratic convention was a scattershot event. Topics ran the gamut from coronavirus to systemic racism to the Post Office. Speakers ranged from Meg Whitman to Gretchen Witmer to Bernie Sanders. Beto O'Rourke and Cory Booker and Tom Steyer and the other 2020 also-rans combined for the same amount of time as Andrew Cuomo. Policy specifics were light, though Kamala Harris did offhandedly mention that she was "excited" Biden supports the "Domestic Workers Bill of Rights."

The Man Who Wasn’t There

Column: The risks of Joe Biden’s basement strategy

Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Makes Economic Address In Wilmington, DelawareAt first glance, Joe Biden’s strategy of avoiding the spotlight is paying off. He maintains his consistent lead over Donald Trump in national polls. In June, in the aftermath of the Lafayette Park fiasco, his advantage in the Real Clear Politics average expanded to 10 points. The critical swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida are trending his way. His lead gives him the freedom to mollify the progressive wing of his party by shifting leftward on policy. The Democrats smell victory, and dream of unified control of government for the first time in a decade.

The Blessings of Baseball

Column: Professional sports and the return to normalcy

Baltimore Orioles v Washington NationalsNo sport is as over-intellectualized as baseball. It’s the favorite pastime not only of America but also of America’s writers. Perhaps it’s the wealth of data, the length of the season, the nuances of the craft that invite curiosity, inspire comment, and engender lyricism. Whatever the reason, scribblers can’t stay away. Red Smith, Tom Verducci, Roger Angell, Thomas Boswell, George Will, David Halberstam, Michael Lewis, Charles Krauthammer—the pantheon of baseball laureates is grand. And imposing. Lesser pundits are wise to avoid the subject.

The Winds of Woke

Column: Can Joe Biden withstand the storm of political correctness?

Joe BidenBefore this morning I had not heard of Thomas Bosco, and I am willing to bet you haven’t heard of him either. He runs a café in Upper Manhattan. From the picture in the New York Times, the Indian Road Café is one of those Bobo-friendly brick-lined coffee shops with chalkboard menus affixed to the wall behind the counter and a small stage for down-on-their-luck musicians to warble a few bars of “Fast Car” as you sip on a no-foam latte while editing a diversity training manual. It looks pleasant enough. “Local writers, artists, musicians, and political activists are regulars,” writes metro columnist Azi Paybarah. “And for years, two drag queens have hosted a monthly charity bingo tournament there.” Drag queens! You can’t get more progressive than that. Bosco seems like a noble small businessman making his way in a turbulent world.

The Virus Rules

Column: How a microbe will decide the 2020 election

President Trump Meets Polish President Andrzej Duda In The Oval OfficeOn March 18, at a press conference flanked by high-ranking officials, President Trump described himself as a “wartime president” fighting an “invisible enemy” known as the coronavirus. The president, it seemed, was beginning to reckon with the extent of the economic, epidemiological, social, and psychological damage the pandemic would cause, and to act appropriately. “We must sacrifice together,” Trump said, “because we are all in this together, and we will come through together.”