The DNC melodrama: The day two-thirds wasn't two-thirds

Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC took a small issue and turned it into a big and ugly one. Photo: Associated Press

SAN DIEGO, September 9, 2012 — Under verbal attack from Mitt Romney and other Republicans regarding some glaring changes in their 2012 platform, the DNC attempted to quickly clean things up. Unfortunately, they ended up creating a much bigger mess, exposing  a definite lie from Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz, and raising suspicion about the possibility of greater cover ups from the Obama administration itself.

At the heart of this controversy is a comparison between DNC 2008 and 2012 platforms. Among the differences is the omission of the word “God,” along with affirmation that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Additional deletions are not getting as much press even though they are every bit as controversial; a statement about the terrorist organization Hamas, and some further comments about America’s relationship to Israel.

Regarding God, the 2008 DNC platform said:

“We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential” (emphasis added).

The 2012 revision reads: “We gather to reclaim the basic bargain that built the largest middle class and the most prosperous nation on Earth – the simple principle that in America, hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each one of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us.”

The 2008 platform said the following about Israel and her enemies:

The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements. … The creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations, together with an international compensation mechanism, should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.  All understand that it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations to be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.  Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.  The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations.  It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

The 2012 revision reads, “President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security. A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States not simply because we share strategic interests, but also because we share common values. For this reason, despite budgetary constraints, the President has worked with Congress to increase security assistance to Israel every single year since taking office, providing nearly $10 billion in the past three years. The administration has also worked to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region. And we have deepened defense cooperation – including funding the Iron Dome system – to help Israel address its most pressing threats, including the growing danger posed by rockets and missiles emanating from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.  The President’s consistent support for Israel’s right to defend itself and his steadfast opposition to any attempt to delegitimize Israel on the world stage are further evidence of our enduring commitment to Israel’s security.”

In a hasty attempt to paste back the “Jerusalem” and “God” references, Democratic National Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa called a special meeting of the Democratic delegates in Charlotte, North Carolina. The entire exchange was witnessed by anyone watching on live television. After a motion by former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, Villaraigosa entered into the following exchange with his delegate audience:

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: A motion has been made. Is there a second? Is there any further discussion? Hearing none, the matter requires a two-thirds vote in the affirmative. All those delegates in favor, say “aye.”

DELEGATES: Aye!

The “ayes” were loud and many. So the mayor continued.

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: All those delegates opposed, say “no.”

DELEGATES: No!

This is where things got interesting. The shouts of “no” seemed every bit as loud as the “ayes.” Villaraigosa continued.

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: In the opinion of the—let me do that again. All of those delegates in favor, say “aye.”

DELEGATES: Aye!

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: All those delegates opposed, say “no.”

DELEGATES: No!

Again the “no” shouts sounded just as loud.

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: I—I guess—

UNIDENTIFIED: You’ve got to rule, and then you’ve got to let them do what they’re going to do.

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: I’ll do that one more time. All those delegates in favor, say “aye. “

DELEGATES: Aye!

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: All those delegates opposed, say “no.”

DELEGATES: No!

By now it wasn’t clear whether the “no” votes were even with the “ayes” or greater. Polling the delegation would have been appropriate at this point. Instead, we witnessed something most amazing:

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: In the opinion of the chair, two-thirds have voted in the affirmative. The motion is adopted, and the platform has been amended as shown on the screen.

(Transcript made available by Democracy Now, September 12, 2012. Comments in between are my own.)

The look of surprise on poor Villaraigosa’s face when he heard the three repeated votes was a sight to behold, but not as interesting as a picture of the teleprompter (courtesy of Fox News host, Greta Van Susteren) stating ahead of time that a two-thirds majority had been heard.  Evidently this “two-thirds majority” was a foregone conclusion before the meeting even convened! There were loud boos from the audience after the mayor’s decision.

This scene could not have been invented for a movie. It would have looked too far fetched, even for a story. As the old saying goes, truth is often stranger than fiction. Unfortunately for the Democratic Party, things got even stranger. 

This was only the beginning.

Enter from stage left DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Debbie can always be counted on to add spicy twists and turns. In an interview with CNN about why the deletions were made in the first place, she said, “Well, really, it was essentially a technical oversight … And President Obama, because he personally believes that Jerusalem is and always should remain the capital of Israel, he made sure that we amended the platform to reflect his personal view as well as reflect the language that we had in the platform in 2008.”  Asked if the vote on the floor truly portrayed the wishes of the delegates, she replied, “it was absolutely a two thirds vote”(CNN, Convention Floor Interview, September, 54, 2012).

To believe her comments we must suspend belief and swallow a scenario where dynamite loaded subjects such as Jerusalem, Hamas and even God Himself were omitted by accident without anybody noticing. We must pretend that we didn’t really see and hear the amendment session for ourselves on TV. Finally, we have to believe that Obama contributed nothing to his party’s platform this year, or at the very least, nobody informed him about the platform. Well, never mind. If the DNC chairwoman has spoken officially, that ends the matter. After all, who has more credibility than Debbie Wasserman Schultz? 

Next: Debbie Wasserman Schultz doubles down on a lie.

 


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Bob Siegel

A graduate of Denver Seminary and San Jose State University, Bob Siegel is a radio talk show host and popular guest speaker at churches and college campuses across the country, using a variety of media including, seminars, formal debates, outdoor open forums, and one man drama presentations.

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