Aug 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

"It is what it is" becomes DNC catchphrase

Mike Allen
Michelle Obama
Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

It's the new "depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is" — President Bill Clinton's instant-classic evasion in grand jury testimony in 1998.

What's happening: President Trump's comment about the virus to Jonathan Swan on "Axios on HBO" — "It is what it is" — became an online sensation.

Now, it’s being invoked repeatedly by prime-time speakers at the Democratic National Convention:

  • Michelle Obama: "Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is."
  • Bill Clinton: "When asked about the surge in deaths, he shrugged and said, 'It is what it is.' But did it have to be this way?"
  • Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer: "Donald Trump says, 'It is what it is.' Presidents should never say, 'It is what it is.' President Lincoln, honoring the great sacrifice at Gettysburg, didn’t say, 'It is what it is.' President Roosevelt — seeing a third of the nation ill-housed, ill-clad and ill-nourished — didn’t say, 'It is what it is.'"

Go deeper: Follow Axios' full conventions coverage

Go deeper