Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg used the “s” word — sanity. (We need a “sane, competent” person, he said.) Impressive national security figures explained exactly why Donald Trump is entirely unfit for office. Former CIA chief and defense secretary Leon Panetta argued:

Donald Trump says he gets his foreign policy experience from watching TV and running the Miss Universe Pageant. If only it were funny. It is deadly serious. Donald Trump asks our troops to commit war crimes, endorses torture, spurns allies from Europe to Asia, suggests more countries to have nuclear weapons, and praises dictators from Saddam Hussein to Vladimir Putin.
Today, Donald Trump once again took Russia’s side. He asked the Russians to interfere in American politics. Think about that for a moment. Donald Trump is asking one of our adversaries to engage in hacking or intelligence efforts against the United States to affect our election.
As someone who was responsible for protecting our nation from cyberattacks, it’s inconceivable to me that any presidential candidate would be this irresponsible. Donald Trump cannot become our commander in chief.

A retired admiral likewise asserted:

Donald Trump calls himself the “law-and-order candidate,” but he’ll violate international law. In his words, he endorses torture “at a minimum.” He’ll order our troops to commit war crimes like killing civilians. And he actually said, “You have to take out their families.” And what did he say when he was told that’s illegal? He said our troops “won’t refuse, believe me.” This morning, he personally invited Russia to hack us! That’s not law and order. That’s criminal intent!

Republicans were upset Democrats didn’t have much to say about national security in the first two nights. They should have been counting their blessings. That changed Wednesday night to devastating effect. In short, by simply relating Trump’s own words and positions the Democrats painted a devastating portrait of someone unfit, unstable and unprepared for the awesome job of commander in chief.

But mostly Democrats mocked and ridiculed Trump. Vice-presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) imitated Trump’s exaggerated “Believe me!” refrain. (“It’s gonna be great – believe me! We’re gonna build a wall and make Mexico pay for it – believe me! We’re gonna destroy ISIS so fast – believe me! There’s nothing suspicious in my tax returns – believe me!’) With glee and a smile Kaine taunted (What’s he hiding in those taxes?) and skewered Trump. He reviewed a litany of victims, arguing that Trump’s “creditors, his contractors, his laid-off employees, his ripped-off students” actually trusted him and got “stiffed.” Kaine said flatly, “Folks, you cannot believe one word that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth. Our nation is too great to put it in the hands of a slick-talking, empty-promising, self-promoting, one man wrecking crew.”

Vice President Biden was more biting, indignant. “He is trying to tell us, he cares about the middle class, give me a break. That’s a bunch of malarkey,” he said. Biden continued, “He has no clue about what makes America great. Actually he has no clue period.” Point taken. For once Biden did not overstate the argument: “No major party, no major party nominee in the history of this nation has ever known less has been less prepared to deal with our national security.” Many Republicans would agree.

It was a compelling, brutal assault on Trump’s intelligence, character and temperament. It was devastating because it was accurate, delivered without hyperbole. Who needs hyperbole when you have Trump, right? It was also a bit distressing for Republicans to see how easily this was accomplished, leaving them to wonder again how their own candidates had so utterly failed to unmask Trump.

You could tell they got to Trump. A flood of emails emanating from the Trump camp tried to attack the speakers, but of course he could not adequately respond to the charges. Trump did after all call for Russia to engage in cyberterrorism on his behalf.

The evening ended with President Obama, who alternated between pinpoint jabs and open contempt for Trump. Remarking on the GOP convention he observed that “what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican – and it sure wasn’t conservative. What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world. There were no serious solutions to pressing problems – just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate.” Obama deadpanned: “He’s not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either.” For the first time in his presidency, many Republicans were nodding in agreement.

This night was the first of the convention that conscientiously reached out to independents and Republicans as well as to disaffected supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) The speakers reminded voters that there really is no equivalence between these two major party candidates. Smartly declining to oversell her, Bloomberg even acknowledged he had disagreements with Clinton. And rather than appearing mean or vicious, the Democrats seemed, well, joyous in finally speaking their minds on the totality of Trump’s faults.

Republicans in some quarters are still trying to play the moral equivalence game. (She had email problems; he invited email hacks.) But of course a flawed, even dishonest and careless candidate is not the same as one who is racist, willfully ignorant, enamored of evil men and consciously fanning divisions in America while making it out to be a third world hell hole. If it took Trump to make liberals sound tough on Russia, tout American exceptionalism, defend the attainability of the American dream and celebrate the innate goodness of their fellow Americans, it might all be worth it — but only if he loses. Well played, Democrats. Well played.