Surprise! Democrats chose Hillary Clinton as their nominee!

Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine celebrate

| The Democrats held their convention in Philadelphia and, to no one's surprise, nominated Hillary Clinton to be their presidential candidate to go up against Donald Trump. But more damned emails threatened to derail the best laid plans.

This time it was emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee — by the Russians, experts seem to agree — and published on the eve of the convention by WikiLeaks that threated to rain on Hillary's parade. Some of the emails written by DNC staffers showed a distinct bias against Bernie Sanders' campaign, and his supporters felt the Bern and burned with outrage. The kerfuffle cost Debbie Wasserman Schultz her job and provoked demonstrations and booing throughout the four days of the convention.

The email kerfuffle also provoked Donald Trump to make one of his most outrageous statements to date: "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press." The factual and logical problems of the statement aside, this was an absolutely breathtaking thing for someone who wants to be president of the United States to say, a view shared by almost everyone except, of course, Trump.

Despite a somewhat rocky start, Michelle Obama helped get everything back on track with her keynote speech on the first night, and from that point on the convention unfolded like the well-planned, well-designed event it was meant to be. Daily themes were reinforced by every speech, every video, every presentation. Whereas the Republican convention featured mostly Trump children and has-been celebrities (I'm talking about you, Chachi), the stage in Philadelphia overflowed with political and entertainment luminaries. The Republican convention was notable for the Republicans not in attendance; the Democratic convention was notable because almost everyone who is anybody was there.

It all culminated, really, on Wednesday night when Barack Obama took the stage to deafening applause to do for Hillary what Bill Clinton did for him four years ago. In a graceful and powerful speech he laid out the case why Hillary should be his successor. And at the conclusion, Hillary emerged from behind the set to be embraced, literally and figuratively, by Obama.

The embrace
Barack Obama embraces Hillary as his designated successor
Proud Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton, shown here with Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, simply could not contain his pleasure

As with any convention, there was sign waving, cheering, and silly headgear.

Wisconsin cheeseheads
Wisconsin cheeseheads
Hat
A hat reminiscent of all those Tea Party hats with dangling tea bags

Now, the serious stuff

Don't let anybody tell you evolution isn't a real thing. Right before our very eyes the Democratic party became the Republican party, the old one before Trump's coup. Democrats often avoid over-the-top displays of patriotism, overt displays of faith, and conservative values. Yet here they were, awash in a sea of flags, chanting USA! USA!, hooting and hollering at every patriotic allusion, listening to general and police chiefs speak, etc. In short, acting very much like Republicans "back in the day."

In her acceptance speech, Hillary noted that Trump had taken the Republican party from "Morning in America" of Reagan to "Midnight in America." She and others offered a consistently upbeat and optimistic view that, whatever our problems, we can "do better" and be "stronger together." 

Preachers and preacher-like speakers thundered in righteous indignation about caring and acceptance. Any picture of the convention delegates — any picture you can find — is populated by people of diversity; diversity of age, religion, sexual orientation, gender. Compare that with the mostly older, almost-entirely white attendees in Cleveland. I know which America I want to be part of.

There were also some moments that simply took one's breath away.

Khizer Khan and his wife
Khizer Khan and his wife Ghazala

Khizer Khan

Khizer Khan, the father of a soldier killed in Iraq, talked about his son who died in order to save his unit from an approaching car bomb. He reproached Donald Trump over his anti-Muslim statements and policies and in a moment of brilliant stagecraft, pulled a copy of the constitution from his pocket, looked into the camera, and demanded of Trump, "Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy."

Trump has never been one to let anything go, and he could not resist criticizing Mrs Kahn for not speaking during their time on stage. "She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say, you tell me," Trump told George Stephanopolous of ABC News. Asked to answer the question posed by Khan, what have you sacrificed, Trump said, "I think I've made a lot of sacrifices. I've worked very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs" (WashingtonPost.com). What an a**.

For the record, Khan declined all speechwriting assistance.

Too bad that Trump is unable to understand the lesson in citizenship he has just been given by a Muslim immigrant to the US.

 
Bernie Sanders supporter
Feeling the Bern all over his back

Bern-out

Bernie Sanders came into the convention with a large number of delegates won during the Democratic primaries, most of them young, almost all passionate and idealistic.

When the DNC email kerfuffle erupted, this was an excuse for them to feel they were robbed of their candidate and they made their grievance known through walk-outs, demonstrations, chanting, and counter-programming signs. Bernie did his best to rein them in, but some of them would not be mollified. Comedian Sarah Silverman, on stage doing a unity bit with Al Franken, finally ad libbed, "To the Bernie or Bust people: You're being ridiculous."

Many of the "USA" and "Hill-a-ry" chants were in response to the attempted distuptions by the Bernie folks.

The thing is, the nomination was not "stolen" by Hillary — Bernie lost it by not getting as many votes and delegates. I do fault Bernie for not doing enough, early enough, to acknowedge that he had lost. He lit a fire that he then couldn't put out.

That said, if you look at the party platform, the Bernie folks got most of what they wanted. They just didn't know how to say yes and move ahead. It seems that some of them would rather seem Trump become president, dashing any hope of achieving what they want, than to accept the reality that real change is usually slow and happens in baby steps.

 
Emanuel Cleaver
Hillary Clinton keeps getting up. "She didn't stay throwed!" thundered Cleaver

Emanuel Cleaver

Most of the people who got up to talk about Hillary did so straight forwardly. When it was Emanuel Cleaver's (D-MO) turn, he reached back to his days as a preacher to sermonize on what he sees as Hillary's greatest strength: for as much as Republicans try to knock her down and throw her to the ground, she just keeps getting back up.

He repeated his tag line several times, "She didn't stay throwed!" What brought the house down was when he started to walk off the stage at the end of his speech to return to the podium and thunder one more time, "She didn't. Stay. Throwed."

 
Dean scream
The Scream, re-enacted by Howard Dean

Comic relief

It fell to Howard Dean, former presidential candidate and former head of the Democratic National Committee, to provide a moment of wonderful levity. Poking fun at himself, he reprised the "Dean scream" that ended his campaign when he ran in 2004.

It was altogether fitting, since he, too, was once a revolutionary progressive from Vermont, now a stalwart of the Democratic establishment.

 

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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