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July 26 2016 1:33 AM

Did Bernie Do Enough?

Two weeks ago in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders stood on a stage with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and endorsed her—finally. The official show of support was more than a month in the making. What little drama was left in the Democratic primary ended on June 7, when Clinton won the final two remaining big-ticket nominating contests on the calendar: New Jersey and California. But Sanders had dragged his feet in endorsing her, using the threat of a contested convention to win a few notable victories in the party platform. Anyway, when he finally did what he had more or less been promising he would eventually do all year, the only question that remained was whether his army of supporters would fall in line.

On Monday, the opening day of the Democratic National Convention, it felt like they wouldn’t. The discord was apparent from even before the gavel fell to start the convention, with Bernie supporters booing everyone from the DNC chairwoman they despise, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, to the Democratic candidate they ostensibly trust above all others, Sanders himself, at delegate meetings that began the day. But then, Michelle Obama stole the show with the most moving, unifying speech of the night. And not long after, Bernie Sanders arrived to deliver the most anticipated.


Sanders began by stating the obvious on a day when many of his supporters attempted to shout down any- and everyone they deemed part of the Democratic establishment. “I understand that many people here in this convention hall and around the country are disappointed about the final results of the nominating process,” Sanders said. “I think it’s fair to say that no one is more disappointed than I am.” Based on the number of delegates the cameras captured openly weeping or yelling in the crowd during his speech, I’m not positive Sanders’ assessment was accurate. Bernie, though, did seem genuine in both his disappointment that he wouldn’t be the nominee and in his desire to support the woman who will be.

“We need leadership which brings our people together and makes us stronger, not leadership that insults Latinos, Mexicans, Muslims, and women,” Sanders said, jabbing his right hand into the air for effect in the stilted rhythm of his shouted words. “By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that based on her ideas and her leadership, Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States.”

The speech itself was remarkably similar to the one Sanders had given in New Hampshire. He opened by spending longer than expected talking about the success of his own campaign and praising his supporters, telling them, “I look forward to your votes during roll call.” But then he moved on, focusing on the substantial areas of policy agreement he shares with Hillary, and the many, many, many areas where they both disagree with Donald J. Trump. “If you don’t believe this election is important, if you think you can sit it out,” he warned in a near carbon copy of a line he delivered earlier this month, “take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate, and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country.”

To me, his most persuasive argument came early in his wind-up. “I hope you take enormous pride in the historical accomplishments we have achieved,” he said. “Together, my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution, our revolution, continues.” Translation: A vote for Clinton this November doesn’t mean an end to the struggle, only a temporary cease-fire in order to keep Trump out of the White House. It wasn’t an original message, but it was one some of his supporters could stand to hear again. It was also another reminder to the Bernie-or-bust contingent that if they forge ahead with their anti-Clinton attacks, they’ll be doing it on their own.

So, did Sanders succeed in quelling the rebellion his supporters had launched his name? In the short-term, I doubt it. His delegates will have the chance to cause some more trouble for Clinton and her establishment friends during this week’s roll-call vote, and they are unlikely to stay quiet during the rest of the action. But I maintain that by the time Clinton takes the stage on Thursday night, few voters outside of the convention hall will remember the party discord that was on display Monday. And for that, Bernie deserves some credit.

July 26 2016 1:11 AM

Bernie or Nonplussed

PHILADELPHIA—The Bernie Sanders delegates in California sit in the back. Few things in life or Democratic conventions are coincidences, and this is not one of them.

“They claimed that we couldn’t sit in empty seats [in front] because they were saving them,” said Ivan Enriquez, a Sanders delegate from Santa Ana. He had just about lost his voice after a day of screaming. The “they” in this case are Clinton’s California whips, who wear bright yellow traffic vests (unless they take them off and go as plainclothes whips, I was told). “Ironically, later on,” he continued, “one of their own whips comes to us and tells us we couldn’t save seats. So we could’ve been down there. They stopped us from doing that, so now we’re up here.” So now they’re up there. And from there, they’re the most vocal Sanders-supporting delegation in the arena.


I was standing with Sanders supporters during the speeches of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whom many Sanders supporters liked a lot more before she endorsed Hillary Clinton, and part of Bernie Sanders’ speech, before a yellow-vested one of “them” told me to move for violating the fire code. (I was, but this whole overpacked convention, with twice as many delegates as the Republican National Convention and a too-large stage jutting into the crowd, is a raging fire-code violation.) They didn’t pay all that much attention to Warren, but they were rapt during Sanders. The California delegation was split during Sanders’ speech: The bottom half of the delegation (with the good seats) would cheer loudly for Hillary Clinton at the parts of Sanders’ speech praising Clinton, while the cheap-seated Sanders delegates would cheer loudly for Sanders during the parts of Sanders’ speech praising Clinton.

The whole day had gone like this, the two sides persistently out of step. Enriquez complained to me about mistreatment at this morning’s delegation breakfast: All of the speakers, he said, were surrogates for Clinton. “It’s become very clear by the way that the Hillary delegates are acting that they’re not really acting for unity,” he said. “Everything is happening behind the scenes, and that’s how they’re able to achieve unity.”

He noted, further, the difference in socioeconomic status between the Clinton and Sanders members of the California delegation. “I’m a student at [Sacramento State] … If you notice, most of the Bernie delegates are normal-ass people.” Sure, mostly. “If you look at the Hillary delegates, you have chief of staffs, you have people that are legislative aides … they’re not extending their hand.”

Enriquez seconded a story I’d heard earlier in the day, from his fellow delegate Manuel Zapata at the Bernie Delegates Network meeting, about the money Sanders delegates needed to raise simply to get to the convention. Zapata had said that, in his mind, Sanders endorsing Clinton when he did was a mistake because his delegates were still trying to fundraise for their flights and hotels, and this made soliciting donations much harder. Enriquez said he only heard a week and a half ago that he was going to be a delegate, and he raised $3,500 over four days, with hundreds more coming out of his pocket. Enriquez feels an obligation, as someone who’s traveling on other Sanders supporters’ dimes, to be vocal in the arena. “When I get home,” he said, “I have to explain myself to all those people.” Did he do everything he could? This is a pressure that many of Sanders supporters are operating under.

While we were talking, his fellow Sanders delegates around him began to boo, and Enriquez, barely a vocal cord left, got up to boo with them. I asked him what Elizabeth Warren had said. He thought about it, but looked lost. “It’s been a long night.”

July 26 2016 12:20 AM

Photos of Angry, Sad, Horrified Bernie Sanders Supporters During His Convention Speech

Bernie Sanders gave a rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention on Monday that sought to unify the Democratic Party behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Some people, though, were not buying it. Specifically, Sanders’ most diehard supporters, some of whom promised to sit out the election or vote for a third-party candidate rather than back Clinton.

Here are the faces of some of the most disappointed, angry, and downright despondent Sanders supporters in Philadelphia on Monday.

Pour souls.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

OK, but what was she expecting?

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

I mean, nobody died.

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Maybe at least pretend to hold that "I'm With Her" sign like you mean it?

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Too much Bern felt.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

"This is not happening. This is not happening."

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

[Insert Celine Dion lyrics here.]

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

See the guy abover Bernie's head? That's the saddest anyone has ever been while wearing a lei, EVER.

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images


July 25 2016 11:30 PM

Elizabeth Warren’s Convention Speech Was Not Inspiring. It Didn’t Have to Be.

Poor Elizabeth Warren. In her speech to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, she proved once again that she was one of the most effective surrogates that the Clinton campaign possesses. The problem was that she followed Michelle Obama's stunning speech, and paled a bit—OK, a lot—in comparison. Still, Warren's address—which clearly laid out the distinctions between the two parties—was an extremely smart attack on both Trump's GOP and the man himself, a clever two-pronged strategy that the Clinton campaign would be wise to use against Trump over the next three months.

Warren's speech attempted to do two things. The first was to define Donald Trump as "a man who must never be president of the United States." Warren seems to go after Trump with particular glee (and Trump clearly feels the same way about going after the woman he, oddly, refers to as "goofy Elizabeth Warren"). Part of her rhetorical strategy is to use a dismissively sarcastic tone while unleashing specific attacks, which prevents her from sounding glib and usually diminishes him. On Monday night, she talked about Trump's reaction to the housing crash, and his role in Trump University, and then shifted into a discussion of his tax plan and opposition to a minimum wage hike, all as an attempt to undermine his credibility among the working class voters who make up a chunk of his support. And then, every few sentences, she’d really bite. Trump, according to Warren, is "a man who has never sacrificed anything for anyone. Every second of every day."


One of the problems for Democrats in this election is that Hillary Clinton's extreme unpopularity reduces the built-in advantage that her party has over the GOP. But Warren circumvents this by focusing on the party more than the candidate. At a time when the Democratic president has strong approval ratings, and Americans view the Democratic Party more favorably than the Republican Party, Warren tried to characterize the election as a choice between parties and visions, or platforms. She compared the parties’ policies (from economics to science) and values. Or, as she put it, speaking of Democrats and Republicans, there is "a huge difference between the people trying to level out the playing field and the people trying to keep the system rigged."

Warren was probably never going to be Clinton's vice presidential choice, but she further proved on Monday night that she will continue to be a highly valued attack dog. She also remains the person with the best chance to unite the two wings of the Democratic Party. Her pragmatism in government and interest in the details of policymaking, combined with her appeal to a more liberal and activist base, and political dexterity, are entirely unique. The only thing left for her to prove is that, on the national stage, she can make the same strong case for herself that she can for others.

July 25 2016 11:10 PM

Bernie Sanders Couldn’t Start His Speech Because the Crowd Loved Him Too Much

Bernie Sanders' big Democratic National Convention speech on Monday was delayed for a not insignificant amount of time by his raucous supporters, who preferred to keep the applause raining down than to let the Vermont senator begin his address in support of Hillary Clinton.

Given the convention's earlier events, it seemed likely that he would bring the house down. But this was something else. They wouldn't even let the man speak!


July 25 2016 10:30 PM

DNC Live Blog: Bernie Gives Ringing Endorsement of Hillary, Saddens His Supporters

Below: Live updates from Slate's crack team of reporters on the ground in Philadelphia and its equally crack team of bloggers on the ground/couch in other important locations. (Yes, we're aware we've used that exact same joke before.)

July 25 2016 10:03 PM

Disability Rights Advocate Slams Donald Trump in DNC Speech

Anastasia Somoza, a disability rights advocate who has worked with the Clinton Foundation, was a hit with the crowd at the Democratic National Convention on Monday.

“Donald Trump doesn't see me, he doesn't hear me, and he definitely doesn't think for me,” Somoza, who has cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia, told the crowd. “I'm confident as president, Hillary Clinton will do everything in her power to promote the empowerment and humanity of all Americans.”


In an evening of less-than-memorable speeches, some of the strongest—and best received—have come from those who are not elected officials.

July 25 2016 9:44 PM

Watch Bernie Supporter Sarah Silverman Tell Bernie or Busters to Grow the Hell Up

Comedian Sarah Silverman delivered the ad lib of the Democratic National Convention on Monday night. While introducing Paul Simon, Silverman was explaining why—as a Bernie Sanders backer during the primary—she was now throwing her support behind Hillary Clinton.

“I will vote for Hillary with gusto as I continue to be inspired and moved to action by the ideals set forth by Bernie, who will never stop fighting for us,” she said. “I am proud to be a part of Bernie's movement and a vital part of that movement is making absolutely sure that Hillary Clinton is president of the United States. Booyah, Baba Booey”


Sanders’ supporters had already disrupted the proceedings on multiple occasions earlier in the day and some of them again began to chant for "Bernie! Bernie!" To no avail, Silverman tried to steer the crowd to a chant of “Unity! Unity!”

Then she dropped this fun little truth bomb: “Can I just say to the Bernie or Bust people: You’re being ridiculous.”

That was one of the biggest applause lines of the night, and it was one of the first moments where it actually felt like the Hillary Clinton people in the hall outnumbered the Bernie Sanders people by the margin that they actually do.

July 25 2016 7:45 PM

How the DNC Neutralized Bernie’s Discontents. For Now.

PHILADELPHIA—Though the Democratic National Convention was gaveled in by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake instead of by deposed chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Sanders delegates were still restless at the start of the afternoon program. The usual chants of “BERN-IE, BERN-IE” could be heard about every 30 seconds—not for any particular reason, but typically when the names of either Hillary Clinton or Tim Kaine had been dropped.

At first it was mostly a nuisance, the shouting and the booing, and not really damaging to the work of the convention. Rep. Marcia Fudge, the permanent chairwoman of the convention, saw the need to lay a marker early as she was interrupted by chants and boos. “May I just make a point?” she said, interrupting her remarks. “I intend to be fair. I want to hear the varying opinions here. I am going to be respectful of you. And I want you to be respectful of me.”


This made little difference. As I walked by the Louisiana and Colorado delegations, a group of Sanders supporters wearing white baseball caps with a graphic of a bird next to Sanders’ name were going through one of their “BERN-IE” waves. An older black woman sitting in front of them looked away and rolled her eyes.

The discontent was concentrated in certain Sanders-friendly pockets. The Wisconsin-Indiana seating corridor is rowdy. Near the back, the Washington-Oregon axis is rowdy. But the rowdiest section might be in California, simply because of its 475 delegates. Though Clinton won the state, proportional allocation ensured Sanders would still collect 221 delegates. Many of them were sitting together—near the back of the section, like cool kids—and hollering about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The platform committee had punted on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, choosing to acknowledge that the party had differing views—and then not siding with either of them, despite its two presidential candidates theoretically opposing the agreement. (Word is the Obama administration pushed to nix a provision trashing the trade deal his administration spent years negotiating.) Many delegates, mostly for Sanders, came to the Wells Fargo Center on Monday with signs depicting TPP crossed out. If all of this first-day angst from Sanders delegates was to be channeled into something meaningful, it would be a rejection of the platform.

But the convention managers handled the job well. Rather than just rushing out to pass the report without saying much about it—the mistake the RNC made as it moved to pass its rules package last week—the DNC trotted out several speakers ahead of the process to talk about the Sanders campaign’s gains.

Maine state Rep. Diane Russell spoke of her successful efforts on the rules committee to limit the number of superdelegates in conventions going forward. When Sanders’ California supporters began chanting “NOT FOR SALE,” she acknowledged them and repeated their words.

“I want to be clear,” Russell said. “We did not win by ‘selling out.’ We won this by standing. We did this by standing together.”

Ben Jealous, the former NAACP president and one of Sanders’ top surrogates during his campaign, also spoke and ran through various planks in “the most progressive platform in history.” There were scattered boos from Sanders delegates when he urged them to support Clinton. But it was nothing like earlier in the day, when Sanders himself urged the same.

This cushioning of the TPP-neutral platform’s passage worked. When Fudge called the report up for a voice vote, the ayes were loud at first, and then kept their noise levels up—perhaps anticipating a wave of nays they hoped to drown out. Fudge wisely gave the ayes time to quiet down so that the nays could be registered, and once she finally called them, it was clear the ayes had it.

Sanders delegates, perhaps satisfied by the blandishments, or perhaps simply tired out, have been much quieter ever since.

July 25 2016 7:02 PM

Man Kills At Least 15 in Japan During Stabbing Attack at Center for the Disabled

The world is a horrible place news alert: A man in Japan was arrested after stabbing and killing 15 people and injuring 45 more at a center for disabled people early Tuesday morning (local time). The attack took place in Sagamihara, Japan, an hour or so outside of Tokyo. Early reports from Japanese broadcaster NHK indicate the attacker is a man in his 20s and a former employee of the center. He broke into the facility around 2:30 a.m. and turned himself into police following the attack.