The first day of the Democratic convention showed the party remains dividedby Sam Tanenhaus / July 26, 2016 / Leave a comment
After the dark, Brechtian theatre of the Republican National Convention—a “Hunger Games” acceptance speech from Donald Trump: “terrorism in our cities… violence in our streets… chaos in our communities”—the Democrats’ task couldn’t be clearer. Their own show must be a festival of hope, optimism, above all unity, as delegates come to coronate Hillary Clinton and make history at their own convention in Philadelphia. What better choice of venue than the city where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written and signed—and where for the first time since the Republic was born, one of the major parties will nominate a woman to run for President?
But nothing has gone according to script in the 2016 election. Rather, events seem to unfold as if by secret protocol. This time the trouble began on Friday, when Wikileaks dropped a cluster bomb of 20,000 private emails captured from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), some of the most damning of which were written by its beleaguered chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. For months, Clinton’s challenger Bernie Sanders had complained that Wasserman Schultz instead of being a neutral referee was in fact working to advance Clinton’s cause and to undermine Sanders’s. And here was solid evidence—a string of snide and snarky messages ridiculing Sanders and his operatives. “Bernie never ever had his act together… his campaign was a mess,” read one message from a DNC official. In another, one of Wasserman Schultz’s lieutenants weighed possible responses to a CNN report that Sanders, if elected, would push the Chairwoman out of her job. Might it make sense to point out the threat was hollow since “the day after the inauguration… a new DNC Chair is elected anyway?” No, Wasserman Schultz replied. “It’s a silly story… He isn’t going to be President.”