Tuesday, July 26, 2016

DNC Day 1: a rocky road smooths out

Passions in Philadelphia ran hot starting at breakfast with the Florida delegation, as DWS stubbornly continued to keep a prominent role in the Democrats' confab, and was repeatedly told  -- by both Berners and other DNC officials -- that it was time to hit the road.

Monday was supposed to be simple. After months of acrimony, the Democrats were ready to present a united front. The lineup spoke volumes: Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were the headliners. Lions of the left, Warren and Sanders were there to set the tone for the convention. Booming endorsements from them was a smart way to symbolically undercut the intra-party bickering, to signal unity.

But then WikiLeaks released thousands of DNC emails and, well, everything changed.

Sanders has lamented the DNC’s pro-Clinton bias for months, and now there’s indisputable evidence that he was right. The DNC seems to have violated its own charter by clandestinely backing Clinton over Sanders before any votes were cast. There was plenty of writing on the wall before this story broke, but the hacked emails are damning. So damning, in fact, that DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign hours before she was set to gavel in the convention.

To anyone on the fence about Clinton and the DNC, it won’t matter that Russia was behind the data-dump or that some of the emails were likely fabricated in order to maximize the damage – there’s enough truth in them to confirm the anti-establishment narratives.

Wasserman-Schultz was indeed finally muzzled, and there was some admonishment directed at the dissenters by her temp replacement, Marcia Fudge, about respect.  That also set a tone.


Yes, it was great to hear (Bernie) say, “Hillary Clinton must be our next president.” It was good for party unity that you publicly declared, “I am proud to stand with her.”
But you did not personally address your most ardent supporters. You know, those “Bernie or Bust” people who have vowed to sit out the election, vote for Trump or vote Jill Stein’s Green Party.
You needed to personally address your most militant revolutionaries: the ones who now think of you as a sell-out, a fake, and a fraud.
Your diehards needed a “come-to-Jesus” moment, something like this:

Let's not go there.  Sarah Silverman's spanking of the boobirds was received well by the Hillbots, and poorly by the spankees.

Silverman — a former Sanders supporter — is known as absurdist provocateur (she once jokingly accused sweet, avuncular, octogenarian New York talk show host Joe Franklin of raping her) and she made a serious miscalculation. When she called for the audience to back Clinton (“Hillary is our Democratic nominee, and I will proudly vote for her”), they responded with deafening, unifying applause. But then she taunted the vanquished, a rookie political mistake. “To the Bernie-or-Bust people, you are being ridiculous!” she said, standing next to a puckered 'Saturday Night Live' stalwart-turned-Minnesota Sen. Al Franken.

The upper tier erupted in a cascade of “Bernie!” — out came the signs — and the kumbaya narrative was momentarily shattered.

Demi Lovato and Paul Simon alternately rocked and soothed the savages in both camps to a degree ('Bridge Over Troubled Waters', indeed) and then Sen. Cory Booker summoned the image of a happy warrior -- perhaps symbolic of the one who is preparing to depart the White House.  His rollicking ten minutes made some delegates wish he had been tapped VP.

Why, you could almost forget that he's so deep in bed with Wall Street that he could massage Hillary Clinton's toes under the covers.

Then it was Elizabeth Warren's turn, and she got her own hero's welcome.  But her speech was lackluster in delivery and included some content that simply wasn't factual, like how hard Clinton had fought the big banks and opposed unfair trade deals, and suddenly the oxygen seem to go out of the room again.

With the crying and disgust mostly at ebb tide, Michelle Obama seized the moment.

But something happened on the way to the Democratic crack-up: Michelle Obama, something of an afterthought on the opening-night program, delivered the best speech of Hillary Clinton’s career.


Over the years, much has been made of the first lady’s supposed animosity toward both Clintons (mostly fiction, with a soupçon of truth), a vestige of the bitter 2008 campaign. But on Monday night, Michelle Obama delivered a more passionate and concise case for Clinton than the candidate has ever made for herself — and perhaps the single most effective political address delivered in 2016.

While reporters scanned the arena eaves for signs of discord, Obama offered a case for unifying around the first female major party nominee in the country’s 240-year history — voice breaking as she talked about Clinton’s role in teaching her daughters that a woman could be president. It was an appeal to the better angels of the electorate, a hybrid of her husband’s classic hope-and-change message and Clinton’s “Glass Ceiling” 2008 concession speech. “We insist that the hateful language that they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country,” she said, clearly — if not explicitly — referring to Trump. “When someone is cruel and acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. … When they go low, we go high.”

That's an accurate description.  The first lady absolutely mesmerized the hall.

She handed off to Bernie, who got a thundering one-minute standing ovation.  It took a few minutes for him to get to the point, but he too let the air out of the tires of the #NeverHillary faction.

It seemed, though, as if the #DemExit bunch quieted down on Twitter, and the rancor might indeed be dissipated, so I'll keep an eye peeled today to see if it returns and the intensity if it should.  With the roll call vote and the Big Dog on tap to speak tonight, things could just as easily go south again for party kinda-sorta unity.

This piece from Chris Cillizza about Bernie's revolution having passed him by is the most cogent thing I read yesterday.  Whatever number of Berners abandon ship on July 29, the election dynamic has surely changed.  To what degree is still to be determined.  We might have more evidence of that next week in two weeks, when the Greens and Jill Stein come to Houston for their convention.


Gadfly said...

1. Michelle Obama? Best speaker only by having smoother pablum than others.

2. Isn't my hot take on Bernie's speech more cogent than Cillizza? https://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2016/07/demsinphilly-sanders-sellout.html

3. Think you meant next month, not next week, on Greens' convo.

PDiddie said...

1. No, you might should watch again. She was far and away the best last night, and nobody booed her (that could be heard, anyway; not the case with everybody else, including Warren and Sanders).

2. Yes.

3. August 4-7 is indeed not next week but in two weeks.

Gadfly said...

Unfortunately, between broken arm and newspaper stuff, I prolly won't get down to the convo.

On Michelle? There's one of Shrub's phrases I often cite against Dems: "Soft bigotry of low expectations." Overall, scoring for both delivery and content, B-minus? She just fudged, without telling outright lies, unlike Warren and Sanders.