News Analysis: Biden’s convention leans heavily to the center, with muted outcry from the left

The first night of the Democratic convention featured John Kasich, the Republican former governor of Ohio, seeking to reassure members of his party that if they voted for Joe Biden, he would not “turn sharp left and leave them behind.”

On the second night, former GOP Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Republican Defense Secretary and Sen. Chuck Hagel and other stalwarts of the traditional foreign policy establishment saluted Biden as a leader who would, in Powell’s words, “stand with our friends and stand up to our adversaries.”

On Wednesday, while the night’s speakers stuck to a more consistently Democratic script, prominent liberal Jesuit priest Father James Martin pledged that in his benediction on the convention’s following and final night, he would mention the “unborn” — a word rarely heard at recent Democratic conclaves.

These are not normal times,” as Kasich said.

But more surprising than some of the words from the convention’s virtual podium has been the reaction from the Democratic left — not quite a collective shrug, but something far short of rebellion.

Republican spokespeople see the relative quiet on the left as evidence of a devious charade. President Trump, having oscillated for weeks among a contradictory mix of attack lines against Biden, has recently settled on the accusation that the former vice president is a “puppet” being manipulated by “radical Democrats” like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive member of Congress from the Bronx whose speaking time at the convention was limited Tuesday to about 90 seconds.

But among some Democrats, the prevalence of current and former Republicans at this week’s convention has given rise to a revival of an old political phrase.

Jeff Weaver, a top advisor to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, illustrated the revived coinage. “What Vice President Biden has been able to demonstrate is the breadth of his electoral coalition, the formation of a popular front” against Trump, he said.