* Tammy Duckworth: The camera panning up from the Illinois senator’s wheelchair to her artificial limbs and then to her, a wounded Iraq vet, standing to speak was pretty damn moving all on its own. Then she started speaking. And man oh man, did she lay the wood to President Donald Trump, blasting his view of the military and what patriotism means. And in her most devastating line, Duckworth said this of Trump: “We have a coward-in-chief who won’t stand up to Vladimir Putin.” Wowza. My guess is that speech won her some fans among rank-and-file Democrats who might have never heard of her before Thursday night.
* Cory Booker: The New Jersey senator showed in his speech why so many people believe he has what it takes to one day wind up leading (or on) a national ticket one day. His speech — about the power of hard work and the need to work together — was full of the sort of brimming-over optimism that is his calling card. Don’t underestimate how difficult it is to bring that optimism, passion and energy when standing in a mostly empty room in New York City, with no audience or applause. I also thought Booker’s self-effacing joke that his girlfriend (aka actress Rosario Dawson) liked Bernie Sanders more than him — in a segment of former 2020 candidates he moderated — was a nice touch.
* Brayden Harrington: Maybe it’s because I have a son around Brayden’s age. Maybe it’s because I know how hard it is to be a kid who stands out for anything. Maybe it’s because I can’t even imagine the bravery it takes as a 13-year-old with a stutter to stand up in front of a camera — and knowing that tens of millions of people will see it — and talk about a struggle you have and how you are working to overcome it. But I cried during most of his speech — and for a while afterward. I will remember that speech for a very, very long time.
* Michael Bloomberg: I have a simple question here: Why? As in, why give the former New York City mayor such a prime speaking slot? Was it the hundreds of millions he spent in a very brief run for the 2020 Democratic nomination? That they needed another rich white guy to speak? That they wanted a re-run of Bloomberg’s I-used-to-be-a-Republican bit that he did four years ago at the Democratic National Convention? I am still scratching my head over this decision.
* Jon Meacham: Let me start here: I really like Meacham as a person. And I like the books he writes even more. But he sure got a lot of speaking time to wax poetic about presidential history — especially when you consider that Democratic stars like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro got very little or no speaking time. Meacham did nothing wrong — I enjoyed his history lesson — but it was an odd choice from convention organizers to give him so much time to do it.
* Balloons: I mean, yeah, they’re hokey. But kids love ’em. (Hell, everybody loves ’em.) And I was disappointed not to see even a modest balloon drop — is that even a thing? — when Biden closed the convention.