You watched it. I know you did. It was like a slow-motion train wreck or a multi-car crash beside the freeway; you just couldn't turn away. And what you saw was the soul of the Democratic party dragged into the light of day.
Think what one may about the place religion has in a party platform, it's obvious that the Democrat platform committee was thinking about pizza when it decided the time had come to eliminate phrases like "God-given" when referring to an individual's talents or potential. Or perhaps they were paying attention and the elimination was a byproduct of their view that these, like rights, come from government, not an imaginary creator; a view that the authors believed a majority of Americans share. Talk about "out of touch...."
So reference to God was eliminated, which was fine; members of the platform committee got to show how enlightened they were, and no atheists were offended. But when people actually began to read the document, there was...trouble. Apparently, it's all very well to do the cognoscenti strut for your circle of like-minded pals, but when the folks out in Pennsylvania who - to borrow a phrase from candidate Obama - "cling to their guns and religion" get word of it, well... Votes might very well be at stake, and we can't have that, can we? Panic ensued among the party's Wizards of Management and Image. The result was the floor vote last Wednesday afternoon, which not only returned references to "God" to the Democrat party platform, but resurrected language naming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
To use technical terms, the vote was a horror show. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the Convention's Chairman, presented the proposed changes in platform language to the delegates, helpfully "reminding" them that a two-thirds majority would be needed for passage. When a voice vote was called, it didn't sound as though there were a sufficient number of "aye"s. Nevertheless, mayor Villariagosa got halfway through the statement approving the new language posted on the teleprompter before thinking the better of it and calling for a repetition of the vote, which resulted in an even more emphatic rejection of the changes.
The third vote was more like a tie, but the Chairman bowing to the futility of the charade and the will of the convention's puppet-masters, opted for a suspension of disbelief and deemed the changes passed. Democracy, Obama-style.
The excuses began immediately. Platform committee head Governor Ted Strickland told Fox News the move was merely a "clarification" and not an "error." But changing nothing into something, especially with such breathtaking public clumsiness clarifies only the foolishness of the omission and the incompetence of party officials - including the guy heading the ticket.
Which may be why the President's deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, contradicted the "clarification" argument Thursday when she explained that Obama had personally intervened to restore those references. Why were the changes not caught and squelched before they became public? Evidently the president didn't bother to read the party platform in advance.
Plausible - the president is a busy man these days, what with excuses for our dismal economic performance to dream up, and all. But does he not have a campaign staff? And is there no one on it who understands how embarrassing this Alice-Through-the-Looking-Glass scene is? Democrat party democracy at work, my precious.
Or perhaps, neither the president nor his staff recognized the import of the changes, which is yet another indication of the hubris they suffer and the disconnection they share with the platform committee.
The bit about recognizing Jerusalem as the permanent capital of Israel also illuminates. The president either had no inkling this statement would be removed from the party platform, or did, and saw no problem. Public response when its removal became known, and the vehement reaction of the delegates when the language was reinstated by fiat of the party chairman both illustrate the dangers of ignorance and miscalculation when dealing with the Middle East.
It's all very well to criticize a political opponent for not jollying along the foreign leaders one likes to cozy up with, but missteps like this in a political platform create real damage in international relationships, and excite unhealthy thoughts in those bad actors one might not want to encourage. To many people around the world, a political party's statement of principles is of vital importance; they take it seriously. Not to understand this is an error not of style, but of substance, and one which presents peril in a commander-in-chief.
As does an inability to tell when the "nays" have it.
Summit County resident Morgan Liddick pens a Tuesday column. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.