Last night's speakers will be a hard act to follow, even with Elizabeth Warren merely okay when I hoped for riveting. Glenn Thrush at Politico wrote that she is better in small groups or on the Senate floor than on a big stage. That may be the case. Even so, Corey Booker, Michelle Obama, Warren, Bernie Sanders. Last week the Republicans gave us Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, etc. Need more be said?
Kudos for Al Franken and Sarah Silverman. Not so much for PBS NewsHour coverage, where Judy Woodruff in particular pushed hard on the theme of a chaotic convention and a fractured Democratic Party. Granted, I tuned in at 5 p.m. The scene was more unruly prior to that.
The PBS crew made a point of shining the spotlight on disgruntled Sanders supporters. Maybe I missed equal time given to the overwhelming majority of Sandersistas who say they will vote for Clinton in November. Endorsements of Clinton by the Collins brothers and other preliminary speakers were greeted enthusiastically. There may have been a smattering of boos here and there, but nothing like the impression given by Woodruff et al.
A telling moment came after the Franken-Silverman segment where Silverman told the Bernie or Bust people they were being ridiculous. I wish I could find a transcript so I could quote Woodruff's commentary and Mark Shields's rebuttal. Woodruff pounced on the incident, accusing Silverman of stirring up the dead-enders after they had quieted down. Shields dissented, saying that Silverman was effective. Dylan Matthews made a similar point at Vox (4 winners and 2 losers from the first night of the Democratic National Convention), describing pretty much what I witnessed:
...when Silverman was added, organizers presumably didn’t know there’d be a substantial number of pro-Bernie hecklers. They didn’t know she’d effectively be charged with winning over the most hostile and skeptical segment of the audience. And they thus didn’t anticipate that she would respond to the situation the way any comedian facing hecklers would — by fighting back, and telling the crowd, "Can I just say, to the Bernie or bust people, you're being ridiculous."
That was definitely not in the script. The words "Bernie or Bust" were not supposed to be uttered; even mentioning it is giving the idea more attention than national Democrats really want. And directly confronting the Bernie die-hards risks alienating them further and adding to the convention’s drama.
Here’s the thing, though: It looks like it worked. The comment brought on a wave of applause, and Vox reporters on the floor say the response was overwhelmingly positive.
Michelle Obama was impressive, meriting every bit of praise her speech garnered. No surprise there.
I sold Bernie Sanders a bit short over the past couple of months as he took his time acknowledging that he came out of the campaign with fewer votes and that Hillary Clinton won. He made clear last night that support for Clinton against Trump is not about betrayal of values and ideals that animate him and his supporters. It is about carrying on the fight.