Democratic Convention Diary (Day 4): Last Night’s Heavyweights, Hillary Tonight

PHILADELPHIA — Last night was the night of political heavyweights. They had a two-fold purpose. The first and most important was to lead the cheers for the 2016 nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Vice President Joe Biden was Joe Biden. By that, I mean he provided the kind of speech you would expect. They passed out placards with the State of Pennsylvania depicted. The northeastern corner, with Scranton in big letters with a star next to it, was boldly printed. This was done to pay homage to the critical state which the Dems feel they have to win. Pennsylvania has gone Democratic in the last six elections. The last time the Dems lost it was in 1988, when Bush beat Dukakis (Dukakis did win 10 states).

Biden grew up in Scranton, and he likes to play up his working-class roots. It sure did not help him when he ran for president himself. He had two futile runs, but he is a popular figure in the party today. He said that Trump “has no clue” how to run a government. The audience immediately started chanting “not a clue.” This will surely be chanted again by the party faithful whenever Trump’s name is mentioned during campaign events.

Michael Bloomberg, the smart, sensible billionaire, was the surprise star of the evening. Describing himself as formerly a Democrat, then a Republican and now an Independent, he took the stage to say that it was “imperative” to elect Hillary Clinton and “defeat a dangerous demagogue.” The very best line of the night was this one by Bloomberg: “I’m a New Yorker. I know a con when I see one.”

The crowd ate it up. And then, to top it off, Bloomberg threw out a few more beauts. “This is no reality television. This is reality.” To sum it all up he urged the nation to “elect a sane, competent person.” The understated way he said it with a deadpan look on his face was met with gales of laughter and thunderous applause.

Tim Kaine, the vice-presidential nominee, was introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.). The Governor of Virginia might very well appoint him to the Senate, if Clinton and Kaine win. Kaine did a pretty good job of imitating Trump with the “believe me” line, which Trump is so fond of using. Kaine said that all of it is bogus and untrue. In one sentence, Kaine said “not one word” is true. The crowd instantly picked it up and started calling out “not one word.” This phrase you will see on signs all the way to Nov. 8.

President Obama gave the final speech. He gave a glowing endorsement of Hillary Clinton and repeated how qualified she was, even saying, “not me, not Bill” is more qualified. He called Trump “a homegrown demagogue” and urged Democrats to do for Hillary, “what you did for me.” His closing line was: “Reject fear.”

I wrote about this before, but it deserves repeating. The D.C. delegates act at this convention as spectators, not participants. What is the most disturbing is that not one speaker of the nearly 100 has mentioned D.C.’s disenfranchised status. The choice of Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton to be D.C.’s voice of statehood is particularly strange and downright offensive.

I’ve been told by more than one authoritative source that she kept the word “statehood” out of the party platform for the past 16 years. Mayor Muriel Bowser needs to get out of her seat at the back of the hall and mingle on the floor. She needs to go up to people, introduce herself and make some new friends and converts to the cause. Jut doing media interviews is not enough.

Yesterday, I stopped former Attorney General Eric Holder, a longtime D.C. resident. When I asked him why he had not mentioned D.C. and our voteless status, he replied, “I didn’t think of it.” When I offered the thought that denying D.C. the vote was the ultimate in “voter suppression,” he agreed and said he would not fail to include it in future speeches. I’ll be watching.

I approached Sen. Michael Bennett of Colorado. You would think he would be aware and sensitive to the issue. He grew up in Cleveland Park. He told me, “No one has ever talked to me about it.”

Tonight, Hillary Clinton, who has a home in D.C., will give one of the most important speeches of her life. I’m sure she will not mention our issue.

You would think Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, who has lived in D.C. for more than 50 years, might be an advocate for the place he lives. Not so. I once had a conversation with him about the subject, and he looked at me with complete and total disinterest. He’s no friend of D.C.

Sorry to end on such a low note. When you spend a few days at the DNC, you realize how D.C. gets the shaft in every way.

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