Democratic Convention Diary (Day 2): First Lady Wins Last Night; Bill Clinton Tonight

PHILADELPHIA — Before I begin with Day 2 in Philadelphia with the Democrats, I must make a correction and apologize for the verbal misunderstanding. I quoted Justin Dillon, an alternate GOP delegate from D.C., at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week. He characterized one of the speakers beautifully as a “Profile in Cowardice.” I thought he was referring to Ted Cruz. No, Dillon said he was referring to Marco Rubio.

Now that I have cleared that up, let’s move to the spectacle this week.

The convention yesterday was gaveled to order by not the DNC chair — Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was unceremoniously dumped. She was not allowed to appear at the podium and resigned involuntarily at the end of the week. My only exchange with her was a few years back when she was plugging her book at Politics and Prose and when I asked her before a group of D.C. residents why she had not uttered a word about our lack of voting rights she replied, “It’s not a national issue.”

Wasserman Schultz should have realized that it was her job and responsibility to make the situation in the District of Columbia a “national issue.” Our lack of voting rights is the supreme example of voter suppression. She has a primary challenge on Aug. 30 in Florida to keep her seat. I hope she is defeated.

Day 2 was definitely first lady Michele Obama’s night. Her speech was masterful!

Hillary Clinton got a much needed boost. Obama said all the right things and was serious and sincere. Her line about Trump without mentioning him by name — “cannot be boiled to 140 characters” — that brought the house down. She incorporated “It takes a village” and “I’m with her.” Those two references were skillful and they worked.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren helped Hillary’s cause as well. She didn’t equivocate but voiced her populist sentiments.

Sen. Bernie Sanders was Bernie Sanders — long and raging populist. His people love him. The crucial thing is he endorsed Hillary Clinton. That’s what they needed, and that’s what he promised and he did not back down from that pledge. The Sanders’s lines about Trump — “If you think you can sit it out” and “Hillary Clinton must become the next President of the United States.” — those two lines said by her rival with 1,846 pledged delegates were absolutely essential.

One last point, Paul Booth, a D.C. resident had a golden opportunity to mention D.C. statehood. He was on the platform committee — not a word. If a D.C. citizen won’t advocate for the issue, how will it ever go anywhere? Shame on him. 

Delegate Don Dinan commented on the D.C. delegation’s seating position: the very back of the hall behind all the territories. We are truly “The Last Colony.”

The speakers at this morning’s breakfast were D.C. Council chair Phil Mendelson and Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans. Mendelson is the definition of soporific, but he had one reasonably good line, saying Congress is “resentful of our success.”

Evans pinpointed the problem with the Clinton campaign. He rightly said, “Our biggest issue is apathy.” The D.C. delegation does not seem to understand its role. It is not just supposed to act as spectators. Its members must be participants. Most of them seem to be just there for the ride.

D.C.’s plight and status will never be properly recognized until elected officials from other places comment and advocate for us. There seems to be no such strategy here to accomplish this goal. 

I tried to engage Sen. Charles Schumer, who will be the next Majority Leader of the Senate, on the floor last night. He refused to answer my questions about D.C. with not a word in response — and then finally said, “Got ya.” I have no idea what that means. This exchange highlights another shining example of Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton’s malfeasance in office. Obviously, Norton has not spoken to Schumer about D.C. and certainly not gotten him to pay attention to us.

Tonight, it’s Bill Clinton — still very popular and probably could get nominated again. Tonight, Hillary needs Bill. And I have no doubt that Bill will help her immensely.

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