We now know that recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a wedge issue — within the Democratic Party itself. After three voice votes yesterday in which the “no” votes equalled or exceeded the “yes” votes, the chairman ruled that the proposal had received the necessary two-thirds vote. But it obviously hadn’t, and the division within the Democratic Party is now obvious as well.
The Democrats did not even try to restore the prior platform positions regarding Israel as the strongest U.S. ally in the Middle East, opposition to the Palestinian goal of destroying the Jewish state with a “right of return,” or isolation of Hamas. If you can’t even win a vote on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, you don’t dare vote on the other wedge issues within the party.
The anticipation for Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention was so great that it’s not clear what he could have done to exceed those high expectations. His 50-minute oration was classic Clinton, cajoling, seducing, lecturing and attacking. The Democrats in the hall loved every second of it even if television networks and many of their viewers may have switched off long before he finally concluded. Nor is there any doubt most of the media will also applaud it. But those who somehow expected Clinton to magically rescue Barack Obama’s re-election campaign with this one speech may ultimately be disappointed.
What Clinton did do was deliver a full-throated defense of President Obama’s failures and an equally strong dissection of his Republican opponents even if his detailed takedowns of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan may not survive fair fact checking. Though much of what he said was more spin than reality as well as being a laundry list of liberal talking points, these were effective arguments. But what he did not and perhaps could not do was make a case for what a second Obama administration would do. Nor, despite his attempt to use the example of his own success in turning around an economy to show that Obama might do the same, did he bridge the gap between his own move to the center and his successor’s consistent lurch to the left. More than that, it’s not clear that Clinton’s looking into the camera and telling us he believed in what he said with “all his heart” will have the least effect on the electorate.
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not having a good convention. The Washington Examiner’s Phillip Klein busted her yesterday. Klein reported that DWS falsely claimed that Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren had told her that what Republicans were doing “was dangerous for Israel.” Oren flatly denied that he said it. DWS then went on Fox to claim that Klein was misquoting her and that she never quoted Oren in that manner. Of course she had and Klein had the audio to prove it.
That earned her a “pants on fire” truth rating from PoliticFact but unfortunately when she next appeared on national television she wasn’t asked about it. Yet CNN’s convention floor interview with DWS was not without some interest. Wasserman Schultz was asked about the embarrassing moment earlier that night when a majority of Democratic delegates seemed to vote no on changing their platform to include God and reaffirm support for Israel on Jerusalem. With a straight face Wasserman Schultz not only falsely claimed there had been a two-thirds majority for the change, she insisted that Jerusalem had actually never been taken out of the original draft! While politicians like DWS are used to lying with impunity and not being called on it, when CNN cut back to the commentators in the booth, her statements were met with incredulity and laughter.
The Democratic platform once again acknowledges Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but the reinstitution of the language in question (and the reinstituted reference to God) was more alarming than the initial change. When Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for Yeas and Nays on the decision he found a roughly even split among delegates. After repeating the process two more times, a befuddled Villaraigosa was visited on stage by a party official who seemingly advised him to declare the needed two-thirds in favor of the change regardless of what the delegates actually conveyed. This he promptly did, eliciting a wave of boos.
Let the paranoia begin. For the professional alarmists who see an all-powerful Israel lobby lurking behind every bush, rock, and cloud, today’s debacle is a goldmine. What could be a greater demonstration of the Israel Lobby’s dangerous subversion of American democracy than the sham vote at the Democratic National Convention that saw pro-Israel language shoved into the party platform over the heads of party delegates?
Under pressure from pro-Israel Democrats, the DNC held a floor vote to reinstate language affirming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel that had been omitted from its 2012 platform. The stadium full of Democratic delegates loudly booed the resolution and rejected it three times in a voice vote, before convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa went ahead and unilaterally approved it (h/t BuzzFeed):
It’s hard not to have sympathy for Villaraigosa. Pro-Israel Democrats have been lobbying the DNC all day to change the platform, and convention leadership probably assumed this vote would be the end of it. The shock on Villaraigosa’s face shows you how far in denial the Democratic Party has been about the anti-Israel sentiment spreading among its ranks. Think he’s picturing how many TV ads replaying this moment Sheldon Adelson’s money can buy in Florida?
This video should chill every pro-Israel Democrat to the bone — actually, scratch that, it should chill every pro-Israel American to the bone. Israel relies on bipartisan political support from the U.S., it’s strongest ally. This floor vote at the DNC portends a day when that bipartisan support may cease to exist.
Tonight is Bill Clinton’s much-anticipated speech to the Democratic National Convention, but as Politico noted this morning, a very high-profile member of Clinton’s administration will be missing his first convention since he left office: Al Gore.
Politico offers the reason–the country’s complete lack of interest in the global warming crusade–but gets the progression of Gore’s fading from the spotlight backwards. Politico writes:
Gore’s evolution over the past four years — from a central figure in the Democratic Party to a no-show at its biggest event — matches what has happened to the issue of climate change itself, which moved to the sidelines alongside its chief crusader, environmentalists and some Democrats say.
It’s not like Gore hasn’t noticed — and his frustration with Obama has been on display. He’s leveled criticism at Obama for abandoning the push for a climate change bill. He accused him of failing to use the bully pulpit to spread the word about the dangers of rising global temperatures. And he faulted Obama for putting off tough new smog regulations.
In case you’ve lost count, South Carolina Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian is the third Democrat to compare Republicans to the Nazis in the past three days. The Statereported on Harpootlian’s comments during a delegate breakfast (h/t Dan Halper):
S.C. Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian, never a loss for a quick quip, tossed a few stinging one-liners at the Wednesday delegation breakfast.
On Gov. Nikki Haley participating in daily news briefings in a basement studio at the NASCAR Hall of Fame: “She was down in the bunker a la [Adolf Hitler’s wife] Eva Braun.”
At the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol draws a comparison between disgraced Senate candidate Todd Akin — who was promptly branded a pariah by Republican officials after his comments about “legitimate rape” — and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was caught misrepresenting comments from the Israeli ambassador this week:
Every important Republican was asked about Akin in the days following his comment. Will reporters ask leading Democrats whether they stand by their national chair, who has doubly lied about a matter of international import? Will any Democrats have the courage to call on Debbie to go?
The motto of the Republican Convention in Tampa last week was “We Built It.” Speakers repeated the line (sometimes to excess), videos were played on the theme, signs and banners lined the convention center. By the end of the week, nobody present in Tampa could be unaware that during a speech earlier this year, President Obama claimed that small business owners didn’t build their businesses alone.
The GOP highlighted several speakers during the week that had inspiring stories of building small businesses out of nothing, who risked what little they had to build companies that would become employers. One speaker, Sher Valenzuela, appeared in the early evening on Tuesday and set the tone for the rest of the convention. Valenzuela and her husband (a second-generation Mexican-American), devastated by their son’s autism diagnosis, started a business in order to pay for his care.
Shortly after the Daily Mailreported yesterday that President Obama’s speech would be moved to a smaller, easier-to-fill indoor stadium due to inclement weather, the Obama campaign came out and vociferously denied it, insisting that the speech would take place as planned in the 74,000-capacity Bank of America Stadium “rain or shine.”
Well, not even a full day later, the campaign did an about-face. Obama’s speech will now take place in a 20,000-capacity indoor arena. Due to weather concerns:
Democrats are significantly downsizing the final night of their national convention, moving the events — including President Obama’s acceptance speech — from Bank of America Stadium to the Time Warner Cable Arena because of threats of thunder and lightning.
Mr. Obama was slated to accept the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night in the open-air football stadium before a crowd of more than 65,000. The basketball and hockey arena, however, seats just around 20,000.
Democrats are feeling encouraged after last night’s speech from first lady Michelle Obama—and with good reason. She turned in a stirring performance, taking a speech that was well written and delivering it just as well, if not better. But the communications team at the Democratic National Convention should also be left wondering why some of the other speeches of the night fell flat, most notably that of Julian Castro, the San Antonio mayor for whom the unreasonably high expectations turned out to be a burden rather than spring board.
Part of the problem is that when you get compared to Barack Obama in 2004, you better be charismatic, and Castro doesn’t quite have the easy yet confident charm Obama displayed. Castro, like an actor who looks like he’s acting, was visibly working to produce what didn’t come naturally. Another factor was the general tone of the evening: whereas the GOP convention theme was that Obama is a good man but not a good president, last night’s DNC lineup was a particularly nasty string of speakers clawing at Mitt Romney’s character. In 2004, Obama showed an ability to speak above the partisan fray. Last night, Castro was just another participant in a one-sided cafeteria food fight.
Last week, COMMENTARY contributor Rabbi Meir Soloveichik spoke at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. This week, the Democrats make it a double-dip of COMMENTARY authors by having Rabbi David Wolpe speak at their gathering in Charlotte. Rabbi Wolpe will give the benediction at the conclusion of the roll call to renominate President Obama this evening following former President Bill Clinton’s speech.
Rabbi Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California, is one of America’s leading pulpit rabbis as well as an author and advocate of great wisdom. As with Soloveichik, those who hear his words at the convention would do well to get a sampler of his work published in COMENTARY:
The Democrats’ biggest problem this year is the failed economy that Barack Obama gives himself an “incomplete” on after four years in power. Their only way to overcome this is to somehow recapture the “hope and change” messianism that catapulted Obama to the presidency. In 2008, Obama wasn’t merely the Democratic alternative to the Republicans. He was the embodiment of the nation’s hopes for itself. His election was an intrinsic achievement for every voter since it reversed a legacy of racism and conferred a certain honor on everyone who took part in his elevation. More than that, he was a put forward as a near godlike figure that was above partisan politics.
Inevitably, the reality of Barack Obama collided with the messianism. Four years later, there is a noticeable drop in enthusiasm among the young voters and others who created the Obama surge. How could it be otherwise when the president’s conduct in office has been anything but post-partisan? Four years of massive government spending, liberal patent nostrums and business as usual have made his feet of clay all too apparent.
It may well be that only political junkies are glued to the television channels showing the political conventions these days but they remain a valuable medium for the parties to reach out to potential voters. That’s why the choices made by the organizers in terms of speakers and topics are significant in that they signal which demographic groups the parties are most interested in reaching.
Last week, the Republicans devoted some time to playing to their base but the main focus was on convincing wavering Democrats and independents that President Obama’s economic failures were a reason to turn him out of office. Their sloganeering centered on the president’s denigrating individual initiative. They mentioned their opposition to ObamaCare but most of their convention rhetoric wasn’t aimed at conservatives or Tea Partiers but at those who voted for the president four years ago.
But the first night of the Democratic National Convention has been strictly about rallying the liberal base.
For hours, Democratic speakers have been speaking about abortion, ObamaCare and lauding big government initiatives. Democratic delegates have loved it.
But does the Obama campaign really think offering a speaking position to the most extreme advocates of abortion on demand, including late term and partial birth procedures appeals to the majority of Americans who do not wish to make all abortions illegal but support reasonable restrictions?
The Democratic National Committee has responded to the controversy over pro-Israel language being deleted from its 2012 platform by pinning the blame on President Obama’s Israel policies. CNN’s Dana Bash reports:
CNN’s Dana Bash: I asked the DNC [why it omitted sections of its 2008 Israel plank from its 2012 platform] and we have an answer. And their answer was that they were simply following what the Obama administration’s policy is, and the White House said several months ago that the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in the final status negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and that is why it is not in the platform as it was in 2008.
Georgetown University Law student Sandra Fluke became the poster child for the Democrats faux “war on women” theme this past spring when she was brutally mocked as a “slut” by Rush Limbaugh for whining to Congress about her Catholic university’s refusal to pay for her contraceptives. Fluke has parlayed that foolish insult into a full-time career as a liberal activist and will appear at the Democratic National Convention to denounce the Republicans and urge President Obama’s re-election. Fluke has no interest in the fact that her fight for free contraceptives infringes on the religious liberty of Catholics and others who object to being compelled to pay for services that violate their consciences. She believes her demands trump the constitutional rights of others.
Today, she appeared at a pre-convention Planned Parenthood rally at which she urged women to work for the GOP’s defeat. The group was reportedly disappointed by the poor turnout for the event that was apparently caused by an Occupy Wall Street standoff with police preventing Democrats and activists from getting to the rally. But thanks to Fluke, they got some publicity because of the catchy battle cry she issued to supporters:
She announced her new rule: “No sleep ’til November!” Fluke called on Planned Parenthood supporters to talk to “everyone…if there is one woman or one man who loves women in America who doesn’t understand what these candidates stand for in November,” Planned Parenthood supporters will have failed.
But what exactly does the would-be lawyer mean by that? It might be just an awkward metaphor. But does she expect all women to be pulling all-nighters working at Obama call centers or knocking on doors canvassing? Or is she channeling Greek poet Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata, first performed in 411 B.C.E., in which the women of Athens vow to withhold their sexual favors until their men obey their demand to change a state policy?
At the Democratic Convention this week in Charlotte, we’ve learned what mainstream feminism has become. What was once a movement to fight for equality for women in every sector of society has somehow turned into a parody of itself. Since the feminist movement began in the mid-1800s, feminists strove to move past the era where women were seen merely as sexual and reproductive objects. These feminists fought for women to have roles outside of their marriages and their homes, to have equal opportunities in education, the workplace and the political arena.
Cut to Charlotte in early September 2012 and these “feminists” are representing themselves solely as human beings with female reproductive organs. At the DNC this week, women are promoting the Democratic agenda by walking around the convention wearing pins that read “I’m a slut and I vote” in addition to dressing up in costume as birth control dispensers and vaginas. These female reproductive organs, devoid of any other identifying characteristics, are duty-bound to vote for Democrats in order to protect themselves from government (while simultaneously demanding governmental involvement in their reproductive choices). Democrats demand that government respect their “right” to abort or obtain birth control and at the same time demand that government also pay for these decisions. The lack of awareness at the inconsistency of this position is astonishing.
In 2008, the DNC platform stated that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” Apparently the DNC forgot to add: “until President Obama takes office.” That affirmation of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was removed from this year’s platform:
For Jerusalem, the new platform has been brought into line with the Obama administration’s policy of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and supporting its division. Jerusalem is unmentioned in the 2012 document, whereas the 2008 and 2004 Democratic Party platforms declared “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel…It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”
One of the risks in asking Bill Clinton for help, as Barack Obama is finding out this week, is that before he utters a word he dominates the conversation. The Democrats gather this week in Charlotte to renominate the first black president–who in some cases, like health care reform and the killing of Osama bin Laden—accomplished what Clinton famously failed to do. Yet no one wants to talk about Barack Obama—not the campaign surrogates who get asked whether voters are better off now than they were four years ago (they aren’t); not the party faithful wondering where hope and change went; and not the Democratic elected officials grumbling about the self-centered behavior of the president.
And not the media, either. Yesterday’s political talk shows and round tables seemed consumed by the Clinton-Obama dynamic—have you heard that a source told a source who told a reporter that Clinton told Ted Kennedy that Obama would have been carrying Bill and Ted’s bags just a few years before he had the audacity run for president against party royalty? Yes, you have heard. Everyone has, because no one will stop talking about it. It comes from Ryan Lizza’s comprehensive review of the relationship between the two men, which also offers a good window into how Clinton weighs using his powers of persuasion. (Clinton finally decided Obama’s election was worth supporting because with his wife as secretary of state he could fundraise the heck out of rich foreign donors for the Clinton Global Initiative. Welcome to the mind of Bill Clinton.)
Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren “categorically” rejected DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s claim that he told her Republican actions are “dangerous” to Israel this afternoon. The ambassador issued this statement in response to Phil Klein’s report in the Washington Examiner:
“I categorically deny that I ever characterized Republican policies as harmful to Israel. Bipartisan support is a paramount national interest for Israel, and we have great friends on both sides of the aisle.”