The Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia was the party's chance to shine in the sun and to emphasize the contrast between itself and the Republicans, catastrophically divided by their controversial nominee.
But then the email leaks happened and seemed to confirm suspicions that party officials were conspiring against Bernie Sanders and favoring Hillary Clinton as the nominee. The Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, announced her resignation shortly after, but the damage had been done.
In Philadelphia, Sanders supporters made their outrage crystal clear, even jeering the beloved Vermont senator himself earlier on Monday when he vouched for Clinton. What was supposed to be a united first day of the convention seemed to be heading in the opposite direction — that is, until Michelle Obama took the stage.
It was the first time a First Lady ever spoke at the DNC, and Obama made sure it was one that went down in the annals of great political speeches.
Recounting how she and the president raised Malia and Sasha, Obama skillfully decried Donald Trump's apocalyptic vision of America, his dangerous, divisive rhetoric, and petty insults — all without saying his name.
"I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation for who [Malia and Sasha] would become and how well we managed this experience could truly make or break them. That is what Barack and I think about every day as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight, how we urge them to ignore those who question their father's citizenship or faith. How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country," Obama said to thunderous applause. "No. Our motto is, when they go low, we go high."
I want someone with the proven strength to persevere, someone who knows this job and takes it seriously, someone who understands that the issues a president faces are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters. Because 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 a thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well-informed.
"I trust Hillary to lead this country," Obama said in rousing endorsement, holding up Clinton as a tireless public servant and touting her ability to keep trudging on despite setbacks.
"There were plenty of moments when Hillary could have decided that this work was too hard, that the price of public service was too high, that she was tired of being picked apart for how she looks or how she talks or even how she laughs. But here's the thing. What I admire most about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure. She never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life."
Obama ended her electrifying speech on a high note. "I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn," she said, and then, choking up:
And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.
It was the night's pivotal moment. At an event where the mere mention of Clinton's name provoked sustained boos from the crowd, Obama was the clear unifier, bringing the audience to its feet with her effusive praise of the Democratic nominee.
Bill Clinton was seen mouthing, "Wow." Delegates wiped tears from their eyes. President Obama gushed about his wife on Twitter. "I love you, Michelle," he wrote.
Though by no means a politician herself, Obama's speech clearly reminded Democrats that there was no shortage of powerful female potential in their party.
Michelle Obama 2024, perhaps?