Was Michelle Obama's DNC speech divisive?


Fact Box

  • As of August 18, there have been a total of 5.4 million coronavirus cases in the United States, with 169,870 recorded deaths. 
  • Former first lady Michelle Obama delivered a pre-recorded speech on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, urging support for Joe Biden in November. She addressed Black Lives Matter, coronavirus, and President Trump's inability to “meet this moment.”
  • To read, here is the full transcript of Obama’s DNC speech.
  • President Donald Trump called her speech “extremely divisive” and unworthy of praise.
  • The first Democratic Convention was held on May 21, 1832, in Baltimore. There, the Democratic Party formally changed its name from the previous “Republican Delegates from the Several States.”
  • The purpose of the DNC, apart from the selection of the party’s candidates for president and vice president, serves to rally supporters and solidify support for the candidates ahead of the November election.

Jennifer (No)

Far from divisive, the themes of Michelle Obama's address to the DNC were American values and their primacy in the presidential campaign. Repeatedly calling Americans to empathy, compassion, and decency, Mrs. Obama's speech, while pointing out the flaws and errors of the current administration, was profoundly uniting. However, it is always expected that the sitting President will be mentioned and not in glowing terms. Presidential elections tend to be divisive that way as the electorate is making a choice. Following the address, the current President complained of 'fawning reviews' and further stated that the content of the speech was 'over (Mrs. Obama's) head'. As Mrs. Obama reminded viewers that 'going high' continues to be the way forward, Trump chose the low road.

For the President to make these remarks about Mrs. Obama at the celebration of the 19th Amendment, which extended the right to vote to women, was an unfortunate choice. To say that Michelle, a woman of such achievement, was 'over her head' is ridiculous and frankly, divisive. Elections are divisive by their very nature. Political candidates inspire passion at the best of times and contempt, at the worst. But elections are necessary in a democratic republic, and the rhetoric that comes with them can be genuinely corrosive. Divisive speeches to political conventions have included Mario Cuomo's in 1984, addressing Ronald Reagan's first term in office, and that of Barry Goldwater accepting the GOP nomination for President in 1964. Both historical addresses are freely available for anyone interesting in reading and discerning the truth.


Bill (Yes)

Michelle Obama's DNC speech was nothing if not divisive and purposefully misleading on several points. Her remarks illustrates Democrats’ intent to harden and divide voters. Obama sought to lay the blame at Trump's feet for the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, saying, 'More than 150,000 people have died, and our economy is in shambles because of a virus that this President downplayed for too long. It has left millions of people jobless.' She forgets that prime responsibility for response belongs at the state level. Many state lockdown policies adversely affected nursing home patients (the most vulnerable demographic), while state-sanctioned economic shutdowns forcibly closed countless small businesses. Obama proceeded to paint a false narrative about police indiscriminately murdering black suspects with the following incendiary words: 'George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and a never-ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered.' Data shows police are not targeting Black citizens, and besides that, Trump’s administration is not to blame for police brutality. She then chose to mischaracterize Federal agents' response to illegal border crossings and rioting in the streets of Portland, Oregon (and elsewhere) with these inflammatory words: 'Children are torn from their families and thrown into cages, and pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protestors for a photo-op.' The AP fact-checked the reference to ‘cages’ as a “misleading” matter “Democrats have persistently distorted,” since they often neglect to mention the structures were erected during Obama’s term. And Democrats dismissing the violence in cities as “mostly peaceful” is obscenely errant. Obama presented an ‘us vs. them’ choice—demonizing Trump (and his supporters) for political gain. This is the definition of divisiveness.

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