Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dem Convention: Day 1

Is this really only the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia?   If feels like it's already been going on for days.    The reports of the Rules Committee and of the Platform Committee were accepted by acclimation during the afternoon session.

In all fairness, Bernie Sanders got 90% of what he wanted in the platform, according to one insider, as well as a commitment to reduce the number of pledged superdelegates in future elections.  But the revelations from the DNC email leak ignited the smoldering anger of die-hard Bernie supporters, and they spent a good bit of the day loudly booing speakers who mentioned "unity" or "Hillary Clinton."    They even booed during Nancy Pelosi's speech.

But as the day worse on, and perhaps partly due to Bernie Sanders' personal plea that they not disrupt the convention with protests, partly with knowledge that Wasserman-Schultz had given up her fight and left to go home to Florida -- the mood began to calm down.  Throughout the evening, there were a few verbal protests shouted out and lots of Bernie sign-waving -- but overall the convention was not disrupted further.

There were a few more short speeches by politicians, then a young woman with cerebral palsy, talking about how Hillary Clinton cares about someone like her.  The audience was moved and gave her a standing ovation.  Then former comedian, now Senator Al Franken, lightened the mood -- leading to the most effective speaker thus far:   comedienne Sarah Silverman, who has been an ardent Sanders supporter.   She talked about how Bernie had inspired her with his message and the movement he had galvanized.    But, she said, "Now I am With Her. . . .  I will be voting for Hillary Clinton, with gusto."    There was cheering from the audience, but apparently some Sanders' supporters still waving their signs and giving a thumbs down sign.

Sarah leaned back into the microphone, in an unscripted moment, and said:   "I just want to say to the Bernie-or-Bust people:   You're being ridiculous."   And the crowd went wild.    Al Franken came back to the podium -- they had been asked to ad lib a bit longer because the next moment was not quite ready.   So they began a riff on how the two of them, Franken (a Clinton supporter) and Silverman (a Bernie supporter) were a .  . . bridge.

And then Paul Simon . . . yes, the 74 year old Paul Simon who has just released another hit album . . . came out and sang the old hit "Bridge Over Troubled Waters."    It was a magical moment.   The dynamic in the room had changedWhat had seemed to be shaping up as a fraught Day 1, with plenty of ammunition for the opposition, suddenly seemed like a . . . well, a bridge over troubled waters.

And that was even before the heavy hitters, Corey Booker, Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders spoke.    As I love saying leave it to the comedians.   They always get it right. 


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