DNC Convention Day 1: a disruptive start, followed by a strong finish

Day one started out with the New York Times reporting that In Hacking, Russia Accused of Playing in U.S. Politics:

Putin-Trump-KissProving the source of a cyberattack is notoriously difficult. But researchers have concluded that the national committee was breached by two Russian intelligence agencies, which were the same attackers behind previous Russian cyberoperations at the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year. And metadata from the released emails suggests that the documents passed through Russian computers. Though a hacker claimed responsibility for giving the emails to WikiLeaks, the same agencies are the prime suspects. Whether the thefts were ordered by Mr. Putin, or just carried out by apparatchiks who thought they might please him, is anyone’s guess.

As Greg Sargent of the Washington Post says, “Let’s be clear about this: the fact that Russia is trying to swing the outcome of an American presidential election is about a million times more important than the fact that some DNC staffers talked trash about Bernie Sanders in emails to one another.” Charles Pierce of Esquire added, Donald Trump’s and Vladimir Putin’s Shared Agenda Should Alarm Anyone Concerned About Democracy.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Was Met With Jeers at a Pre-Convention Breakfast and was removed from the speaker schedule. I don’t know of any Democrat who is not thrilled to see her gone, so that was a unifying event.

Bernie Sanders was booed when urging his supporters to support the nominee, Hillary Clinton. Later, Sanders texted his delegates imploring them not to create a disruption on the floor of the convention to no avail.

The convention disruptions began early, ‘Bernie’ chants erupt during DNC invocation, and continued for every politician speaker, with the exception of First Lady Michelle Obama. Many of the speakers disrupted were African-Americans, from the minister giving the invocation, to convention chair Rep. Marcia Fudge, to Rep. Elijah Cummings. Does anyone really believe that the disrespect shown for these speakers did not offend the African-American community? I assure you that it did.

It took comedian Sarah Silverman, a Bernie Sanders supporter, to say what many of the delegates wanted to hear by late evening: the ‘Bernie or Bust’ movement is ‘being ridiculous’. She also was lustily booed by the disrupters,  but cheered by the vast majority of convention goers.

As Paul Waldman of the Washington Post writes, Despite what you’ve heard, Democrats aren’t in disarray. Their party is under attack from the outside:

Perhaps it was inevitable that one way or another we’d get a spate of “Dems in Disarray!” headlines as the Democratic National Convention begins, since for a long time that has been the default story many reporters write about the Democratic Party. And there is a story to be told about conflict in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, it’s not the one that everyone seems to be telling. The Democratic Party isn’t being torn apart from the inside; it’s being attacked from the outside.

As you may have heard, there already seem to be many more protests from the left around the Democratic convention than there were around the Republican convention. If it seems strange to you that leftists would be protesting not the candidate who wants to deport 11 million people, ban Muslims from entering the country and roll back civil rights gains for gay Americans, but the candidate who wants to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expand Social Security and enact universal child care, well, that would only mean that you’re unfamiliar with leftist politics. For a certain kind of activist on the left, the real enemy is never the right; it’s always the liberals who are insufficiently committed to their brand of revolution.

And this is what’s important to understand about the protests now going on: They aren’t Democrats fighting with Democrats. I wasn’t able to go to Philadelphia this week, so I’d encourage the reporters who are there and are covering the anti-Clinton protests to ask those participating a simple question: Do you consider yourself a Democrat? Because I’m fairly certain that they’ll find almost no one who says yes. This is even true of some of the people who are Bernie Sanders delegates; they got involved in the Sanders campaign, but they weren’t Democrats before this election began and they won’t be after it’s over.

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Just to be clear, none of that invalidates the substance of the critiques the protesters are making; those can be evaluated on their own terms. Nor does it mean that the fact of the protest itself isn’t newsworthy. What it does mean, however, is that it’s a fundamentally different story from “Dems in Disarray!”

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I say this not because I have some kind of fierce tribal loyalty to the Democratic Party; I don’t. There are great Democrats, terrible Democrats and everything in between, and the party as an institution could certainly use improvement. But what unites the holdouts is their self-absorption and complete inability to distinguish between political action that makes you feel good and political action that actually accomplishes anything real. These are the kind of people who think that giant puppets are the key to creating lasting social change.

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To be clear, there are people staging protests in Philadelphia with worthy causes who are using the opportunity of the convention and the assembled media to call attention to those causes. But they’re different from those who are there to protest Hillary Clinton and urge her defeat because she isn’t far enough to the left for them. So yes, this conflict, which now has an interesting Sanders-vs.-the-Sandernistas subplot, is newsworthy. But it’s not at bottom a story about the Democratic Party itself, which actually seems pretty unified. Even if some Democrats would have preferred that someone other than Hillary Clinton was their nominee, they’re not the ones holding signs and plotting how to create chaos on the convention floor.

Waldman’s Post colleague James Downie adds, Democrats were told their party was divided. They just proved that wrong:

The presence of [Democratic Party] heavy hitters on the stage sent a powerful message to the attendees skeptical of Clinton, and held their attention when perhaps lesser lights would have been unable to. What were loud boos when the day began quickly became more and more scattered. By the time Obama, Warren and Sanders spoke, interruptions were either shushed or quickly petered out on their own. Obama gave the best speech of the evening — her line “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves” will be tough to top the rest of the week — and she and Sanders both made powerful cases that the stakes in the general election are too high for disappointed progressives to reject voting for Clinton in November. Sanders also smartly reminded his supporters of the tangible results of their success, including the most progressive platform in the party’s history and Clinton adopting part of his plan on higher education.

The stark contrast in speakers at the two conventions is telling: Only one party is united. Only one party had large numbers of its elected officials and past luminaries stay away. Yes, a small minority booed Clinton’s name, but the more important fact is that her name was mentioned: At the Democratic convention, speakers are actually making a case for their party’s nominee — unlike the GOP confab in Cleveland.

There has been a lot of talk in the past few days about a split Democratic Party. But the fact is that 90 percent of voters who backed Sanders during the primary now back Clinton.

Sen. Cory Booker gave an “Obama 2004” speech with a “we will rise!” cadence based on Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise that brought the convention to its feet with chants of “Cory! Cory! Cory!Dem rising star Cory Booker delivers emotional speech, lifts crowd to its feet.

This set the stage for First Lady Michelle Obama who gave one of the great Democratic Convention speeches. Day 1 Takeaways: First Lady Steals the Show.

MichelleIt’s Hillary Clinton’s convention, and it was Mr. Sanders’s big night. But the unquestioned star of the program on Monday was Mrs. Obama, who used her prime-time speech to describe an optimistic, confident view of American social progress, and to embrace Mrs. Clinton as the natural heir to the Obama presidency.

She praised Mrs. Clinton as a big-hearted public servant and as a political survivor, and rebuked Donald J. Trump as a bully without mentioning his name. Most important, Mrs. Obama wrapped her speech in a sunny narrative about what the country has accomplished during her husband’s presidency, celebrating the image of a black family in the White House and casting Mrs. Clinton’s election as a similar milestone.

“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great,” Mrs. Obama said. “This, right now, is the greatest country on earth.”

And there was this lesson for Bernie Sanders’ supporters:

And when she didn’t win the nomination eight years ago, she didn’t get angry or disillusioned.

Hillary did not pack up and go home, because as a true public servant Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own desires and disappointments.

So she proudly stepped up to serve our country once again as secretary of state, traveling the globe to keep our kids safe.

The First Lady was followed by keynote speaker Elizabeth Warren, whose job it was to slice-and-dice Donald Trump and to Urge Liberals to Vote for Hillary Clinton. A handful of “Bernie or Bust” disupters chanted “we trusted you,” but they were drowned out by a receptive convention crowd. It was an effective comparison and contrast speech that starkly laid out the choices in this election.

Bernie-DNCThe night concluded with Bernie Sanders who, unlike some of his supporters who had disrupted the convention all evening, gave a full throated endorsement of Hillary Clinton and a lecture to his supporters about how his “revolution” is not about this campaign or any candidate, but something so much more. Sanders Prepared Remarks for the Democratic National Convention:

Let me be as clear as I can be. This election is not about, and has never been about, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates who sought the presidency. This election is not about political gossip. It’s not about polls. It’s not about campaign strategy. It’s not about fundraising. It’s not about all the things the media spends so much time discussing.

This election is about – and must be about – the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and grandchildren.

This election is about ending the 40-year decline of our middle class the reality that 47 million men, women and children live in poverty. It is about understanding that if we do not transform our economy, our younger generation will likely have a lower standard of living then their parents.

This election is about ending the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that we currently experience, the worst it has been since 1928. It is not moral, not acceptable and not sustainable that the top one-tenth of one percent now own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, or that the top 1 percent in recent years has earned 85 percent of all new income. That is unacceptable. That must change.

This election is about remembering where we were 7 1/2 years ago when President Obama came into office after eight years of Republican trickle-down economics.

The Republicans want us to forget that as a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, our economy was in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Some 800,000 people a month were losing their jobs. We were running up a record-breaking deficit of $1.4 trillion and the world’s financial system was on the verge of collapse.

We have come a long way in the last 7 1/2 years, and I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership in pulling us out of that terrible recession.

Yes, we have made progress, but I think we can all agree that much, much more needs to be done.

This election is about which candidate understands the real problems facing this country and has offered real solutions – not just bombast, fear-mongering, name-calling and divisiveness.

We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. We need leadership which brings our people together and makes us stronger – not leadership which insults Latinos, Muslims, women, African-Americans and veterans – and divides us up.

By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that – based on her ideas and her leadership – Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States. The choice is not even close.

It remains to be seen whether Sanders’ supporters learned the lesson he was trying to teach them.

4 thoughts on “DNC Convention Day 1: a disruptive start, followed by a strong finish”

  1. It is true that if Russians di the hacking and are trying to infkuence an American election, it is a serious matter. It is also true that it does diminish the seriousness of the DNC staffers stupidity in posting e-mails they never wanted to see come to light. Any lawyer knows: NEVER put it in writing.

  2. Why is it so certain that Sanders was “trying to teach” his supporters? Maybe he was saying what he’s been politically bullied into saying, but in his heart hopes his supporters continue on as they see fit. Maybe every time he said “Hillary Clinton believes …” he was placing her in what ultimately will be a tight position. After all, it’s tough enough to keep your own campaign promises. It’s even tougher to keep the ones you made a deal to let someone else make for you. Time will tell.

  3. For me, the most moving line of the night was Michele Obama’s “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves”. This line is so powerful, and takes on directly “make America great again”, which really means, make America white again, make the south rise again, make everyone else have amnesia about the history of America.

  4. I don’t care about talking points on who found these knaves out. I now know when I read hillary talking points are from paid clinton stooges with wall street money

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