Sanders can’t end his revolution, but the first lady hands Hillary Clinton the best speech of 2016.
Even Bernie wasn’t Bernie enough to tame Bernie’s revolution.
Polls show that the majority of Bernie Sanders supporters are consolidating around Hillary Clinton. But hundreds of die-hard Sanders backers — furious over revelations the Democratic National Committee colluded with Clinton campaign officials — resisted their candidate’s calls to unify around the party’s nominee, or at least booed lustily when he called for them to mobilize for Clinton.
The shake-up of the party’s senior leadership on the first day of a convention that was supposed to unify Democrats around their sturdy but widely un-adored nominee wasn’t enough to appease progressives who still believe the Clintons rigged the game against them. “Brothers and sisters, this is the real world we live in!” Sanders implored his supporters at an outdoor rally hours before he was scheduled to address the convention to offer his un-Ted-Cruz-ish backing to the candidate who defeated him.
Hours earlier they booed ousted DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz off a stage, and then, to the surprise of the socialist who led their “revolution,” they hooted and howled their disapproval at him. It got so bad Sanders had to send out a last-minute text message to his delegates instructing them to “not engage in any kind of protest on the floor,” begging them not to turn their backs or heckle pro-Clinton speakers. “Our credibility as a movement will be damaged,” he wrote.
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.
And Sanders, not one to show emotion on the campaign trail, momentarily broke down during a nearly five-minute standing ovation — and braved the boos to summon his army to battle Trump. Whether all of them will heed the call remains to be seen.
Here are five takeaways from an emotional rollercoaster of a first night of the DNC.
Bernie is pro-Hillary (But he’s a little more anti-Trump). The Vermont senator, who appeared at a joint rally with Clinton in New Hampshire earlier this month (long after he was mathematically eliminated from contention) was passionate in his summons to defeat the surging GOP nominee. He was thunderous in his praise for the millions of Americans who backed his revolution — and in attacking what he called “the grotesque level of income inequality in America.”
He was full-throated in his support for Clinton, but, um, just not quite as much. To the untrained ear, Sanders delivered his standard primary spiel (bashing Trump for intolerance, decrying the influence of Wall Street, purging big money from politics) but this was the first real general election speech he delivered. And the case he made for Clinton was less about a visceral appeal to liberal values than a dry, logical chain of argument that led (somewhat joylessly, and amid boos) to the conclusion that Clinton deserved to be the nominee.
“We have made progress but I think we can agree that much, much more needs to be done,” he said, as chants of “Bernie!” cascaded through the Wells Fargo Arena. “This election is about which candidate understand and the real problems facing this country and has offered reasonable solution, not just bombast and… name calling.”
It was a shouted appeal for solidarity (and the Clinton team was satisfied with his fervor), but one with tinges of south Brooklyn melancholy. “I think it’s fair to say no one was more disappointed than I am” in the result of the primary, he offered the Bernie-or-Bust holdouts.
And note the order of Sanders’ big tweet on Monday night: “We have got to defeat Donald Trump and do everything we can to elect Hillary Clinton to the White house,” he wrote. Sanders, who registered as a Democrat last year when he decided to run for president, added a little Democratic donkey icon to make the point that he was playing with the home team.
“He really wants to stop Trump, you can see that,” one Democratic senator close to Sanders told me, on condition of anonymity. “The Hillary part … that’s coming along a bit more slowly, but it will come.”
Michelle Obama delivers for Clinton. Over the years, much has been made of the first lady’s animosity toward both Clintons (mostly fiction, with a soupçon of fact), 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” 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.”
With most eyes on Sanders — and many on Elizabeth Warren — a first lady who had to be dragged into the spotlight by her husband’s staff in 2008 was something of an afterthought on the first night of Hillary Clinton’s convention. But she repeated, and in many ways, exceeded her memorable 2012 speech on behalf of Barack Obama’s reelection in Charlotte.
And she didn’t shy away from directly addressing the schism in the party — celebrating Clinton’s gritted-teeth decision to fall in behind her husband, even as many of her supporters rebelled. “When she didn’t win the nomination eight years ago she didn’t get angry or disillusioned … Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life.”
Fear. The action inside the arena was, for much of the day, overshadowed by the data on the delegate’s smart phones. Several polls released in the wake of the GOP convention last week showed Trump surging to the lead — and Nate Silver (the poll-aggregating Linus Blanket of the Left in 2008) sent a shiver through Philly by, for the first time, reckoning that Trump had a 55 percent chance of winning were the election held today.
Elizabeth Warren was OK. The firebrand Massachusetts senator is great in small groups — or delivering a broadside against Citibank or Trump on the Senate floor — but she has trouble scaling up to the big stage of national politics. Monday was no exception; and Warren, like Michelle Obama, essentially repeated her 2012 convention performance. In Warren’s case, that was a solid but mostly unmemorable speech.
Sarah Silverman — oy. At the start of the night, there was a bit of discord, a smattering of boos during the opening speeches that died down. Then came the comedy, which nearly precipitated tragedy from the perspective of the Clinton campaign.
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.
By: Glenn Thrush, Politico.
Please note: United with Israel does not endorse any presidential candidate.
Do You Love Israel? Make a Donation to Show Your Support!
Donate to vital charities that protect Israelis and help inspire millions around the world to support Israel too!
Now more than ever, Israel needs your help to fight - and win - the battle of public opinion.
Anti-Israel bias and boycotts are out of control. Israel's enemies effectively use social media to incite brutal terror against innocent Israeli civilians. Please help us fight back!