Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Day 1. Major speakers: Michelle stole the show; but Bernie owned the night

If he had been the only major speaker of the evening, Sen. Corey Booker's rousing delivery would be remembered, like Barack Obama was after his home-run speech at the 2004 convention, as the arrival of a new political talent on the national stage.   He will be remembered, but he was followed by the First Lady Michelle Obama, then Elizabeth Warren, and finally by Bernie Sanders.   So he was not the star of the night;  but, with his soaring rhetoric and his intellect, combined with the firey delivery of the gospel preacher, Booker has a bright future in Democratic politics.

But Michelle Obama . . . was perfection.   Her theme:   our children, how she and Barack have parented their two girls growing up in the unusual situation of the White House;  and what we need to do to ensure the future for all of our children  For me, her two most effective lines were an optimistic message about how far we have come and where we need to go.  She spoke, as the wife of the first black president, how she "wakes up every morning in a house that was built by slaves."   The other:  "Who do you want in the White House as a role model for our children?"    She had the crowd in the palm of her hand, on their feet.   By any metric, she was the high point of the convention so far.   She could have a bright future in Democratic politics, if she wants it.

Elizabeth Warren came next;   and, great as we knew she would be, we've been seeing her in that role for some time now, so there was no surprise.   She was good, as we expected she would be.   Nothing more -- but that's a lot.

Bernie Sanders then closed out the evening.   This was the day to emphasize the progressive wing of the party and to honor what Sanders has achieved in this campaign, which seemed so improbable at the beginning.   He reminded his delegates that they will have an opportunity on Tuesday to cast their votes in a roll call vote;   they will be heard.  He ticked off issue after issue (increase the minimum wage, break up the too-big banks, guarantee debt-free college education, universal health care, immigration reform and criminal justice reform, and others) and turned to say what his campaign and the Clinton campaign have worked out together to make the party platform the most progressive one in its history.

Sanders spoke directly to supporters about their disappointment, saying "I'm probably the most disappointed of all."  But he said the best way forward is to elect Hillary Clinton president in November.    But make no mistake.   The revolution his campaign started is bigger than one candidate or one election;  it will go on.

Day 1 of the Democratic Convention got off to a rocky start -- with the necessary, forced departure of the party chairwoman, Debbi Wasserman-Schultz who, by the end of the day had given up her fight to hold on and returned to her home in Florida.   And there were Sanders' protesters who made some noise from time to time;   but they never disrupted the proceedings.   And, honestly, even my own favorite news people at MSNBC over-reacted to it.    They selectively picked people to talk to on the floor who were unconverted Sanders' supporters, because that's where the news was.   But the overwhelming majority of the crowd were "With Her."

Comparing this to last week:   the Dem's Day 1 was far more united than the Repubs were on Night 4 after the chosen one spoke.   We have a lot to look forward to in the next three days:  Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Tim Kaine, and then Hillary Clinton herself as the first woman to be the presidential nominee of a major political party in U.S. history.


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