At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Monday night, marquee speaker Michelle Obama wasted no time reinforcing the night’s attacks on Donald Trump—the only time in recent memory that a First Lady has lashed out at the opposing party’s nominee— by strongly going after his character and yet she managed to stay above the fray of a tense election by never mentioning his name.
She opened by framing her remarks around the Obamas’ two daughters, Malia and Sasha, and the fact that the president of the United States is one of the few people powerful enough to change their lives and the lives of all young people over the next four years.
That’s a big responsibility, she said. “With every word we utter we know our kids are watching,” said the First Lady. “Our words and actions matter to kids across this country.”
She then set about explaining exactly why Trump isn’t fit for the job.
“We teach our girls that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully you don’t stoop to their level,” in her first reference to Trump. “No, our motto is ‘When they go low we go high’.”
Referencing Trump’s love for Twitter: “The issues the president faces are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters.”
“When you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips, and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions; you can’t have thin skin and a tendency to lash out,” she said, referencing Trump’s short fuse. “You need to be steady and measured and well-informed.”
The first lady didn’t neglect to point to Trump’s lack of experience in politics. “I want a president with a record of public service, someone whose life’s work shows our children that we don’t chase fame and fortune for ourselves, we fight to give everyone a chance to succeed,” she said.
Of course the implication was that for all those things Trump lacks, Hillary brings in spades. Obama pointed to the fact that Clinton didn’t give up politics after being upset by Barack Obama for the nomination back in 2008. “Hillary didn’t pack up and go home,” but rather stepped in as secretary of state. “As a true public servant Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than our own desires and disappointments.”
Toward the end of her comments the first lady dropped one more zinger for Trump. “Don’t ever let anybody tell you our country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again.” she said, referencing Trump’s famous slogan. “This country is the greatest country on earth.”
The first lady’s remarks were effective, even moving.
Mrs. Obama clearly has plenty of her husband’s oratorial magic. She displayed a wonderful reserve at the beginning of the speech, then cranked up the emotion at just the right time, even shedding a tear toward the end.
She ended with a call to action for all Democrats. “We cannot afford to sit back and hope that everything will work out for the best,” she implored. “We need to do what we did four years ago and eight years ago—so let’s get to work.”