The Democratic National Convention had its Clint Eastwood.
His name: Antonio Villaraigosa.
Like Eastwood arguing onstage with an empty chair at the GOP
convention, Villaraigosa provided an unscripted moment that led to
mockery and political trouble.
Specifically, the Democratic convention chairman messed up a political
no-brainer: rewording the party platform to reinsert a reference to God
and another concerning Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The language got in the platform.
But it took three chaotic voice votes, all called by a flat-footed
Villaraigosa — the mayor of Los Angeles — who was caught grinning in
confusion after a surprising number of Democratic delegates repeatedly
shouted “No!” on the convention floor as TV cameras rolled.
Suddenly, a pro-forma vote that normally garners relatively little
negative attention turned into drama. Lots of drama. It was satirized
roundly on the liberal-leaning The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
A needless and unforced error, it was a gift to Republicans. Just as
Eastwood’s performance allowed Democrats to try to cast the GOP as a
party of angry old white guys, the Jerusalem issue allowed Republicans
to try to cast the Democrats as too hostile to Israel.
fellow Californian Eastwood, Villaraigosa refused to acknowledge any
error. “Not one person objected. It’s more a media concern than a
delegate concern. I can tell you this — the president of the United
States said, ‘Wow.’ The president said, ‘You showed why you were
speaker of the California Assembly,’” Villaraigosa later told The Los
Angeles Times. “The president, the vice president, Mrs. Obama, all of
them acknowledged the decisive way I handled that.”
Did the president say “Wow!” or “Wow?”
way Villaraigosa managed the situation gives an indication of why
California is so messed up. And if Obama thought he did a great job, it
speaks volumes about Illinois and the Democratic Party in general —
especially when it comes to handling Jewish voters.
least, the incident underscores the needless political risk the party
took in omitting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.