The opening of the Democratic National Convention featured four terrific, formal speeches by heavyweight pols, but it was stand-up comic Sarah Silverman’s ad lib that delivered the pivotal line of the night.
“Bernie or Bust people,” said Silverman, an erstwhile supporter of Bernie Sanders who’s now endorsed Hillary Clinton, “you’re being ridiculous.”
Delivered from the podium as she vamped with comedian qua U.S. Senator Al Franken, a longtime Clinton backer, Silverman’s crack seemed to shift the energy and political momentum of opening night: after a long day of near-chaos in Philadelphia, during which Sanders dead-enders forced the sudden resignation of the DNC chair in an email scandal, organized large and raucous street protests and even booed their own candidate when he urged them to get behind Clinton, as he has, Silverman’s one-liner smacked the Bernie-bots upside their heads.
At least that’s how it looked to us. But, hey, whadda we know, we’re just watching it from the couch, sucking on some Red Stripes and chowin’ down Crunchy Cheddar Jalapeno Cheese Flavored snacks, like everybody else.
Paul Simon at 74: Silverman’s schtick with Franken was to hold hands – “like a bridge,” one or both of them said; we can’t quite remember because we cringed and looked away at their corny set-up of an introduction of Paul Simon to sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” as a symbol of, you know, unity. Or something.
(Discuss: who looked like he’s having a worse time with geezer-hood, Simon or Bill Clinton?)
From there, however, things could not have not gone better for Hillary.
The Sanders rear guard on the floor of Philly’s Wells Fargo Center (too big to fail?) kept booing and heckling mentions of Clinton’s name, with the mischief seemingly centered in the California delegation, despite the text Sander’s had sent earlier in the day to his delegate whips: “I ask you as a personal courtesy to me to not engage in any kind of protest on the floor. It’s of utmost importance you explain this to your delegations.”
While it may have mattered somewhat in the hall, it certainly made no difference to the tens of millions watching at home, as First Lady Michelle Obama parked one in the third deck with a memorable address (no word yet on plagiarized content), surrounded by impressive oratory by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Massachusetts Senator and progressive rock star Elizabeth Warren and ole’ Bernie himself.
Or so it appeared.
Here are some highlights from the important speeches..
That is what Barack and I think about every day as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight. How we urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith. How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain that when someone is cruel, or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is: When they go low, we go high.
And make no mistake about it, this November when we go to the polls that is what we’re deciding, not Democrat or Republican, not left or right. No, in this election and every election is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives.
And I am here tonight because in this election there is only one person who I trust with that responsibility, only one person who I believe is truly qualified to be president of the United States, and that is our friend Hillary Clinton.
I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.
So look. So, don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great—that somehow we need to make it great again—because this right now is the greatest country on earth. And as my daughters prepare to set out into the world, I want a leader who is worthy of that truth.
When she didn’t win the nomination eight years ago, she didn’t get angry or disillusioned. Hillary did not pack up and go home, because as a true public servant, Hillary knows this is so much bigger than her own desires and disappointments.
When you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have a thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well informed.
I want a president with a record of public service, someone whose life work shows us and shows our children that we don’t chase fame and fortune for ourselves, we fight to give everyone a chance to succeed.
I respect and value the ideals of rugged individualism and self-reliance. But rugged individualism didn’t defeat the British, it didn’t get us to the moon, build our nation’s highways, or map the human genome. We did that together.
This is the high call of patriotism. Patriotism is love of country. But you can’t love your country without loving your countrymen and countrywomen. We don’t always have to agree, but we must empower each other, we must find the common ground, we must build bridges across our differences to pursue the common good.
Americans, at our best, stand up to bullies and fight those who seek to demean and degrade others. In times of crisis we don’t abandon our values – we double down on them. Even in the midst of the Civil War, Lincoln called to the best of the country by saying, “With malice toward none and charity toward all.” This is the history I was taught.
240 years ago, an English King said he would crush our rebellion, but Americans from around our nation joined the fight. From Bunker Hill to the Battle of Trenton, they stood, and so many fell giving their lives in support of our daring declaration that: America, we will rise.
This is our history: escaped slaves, knowing that liberty is not secure for some until it’s secure for all, sometimes hungry, often hunted, in dark woods and deep swamps, they looked up to the North Star and said with a determined whisper, America, we will rise.
My fellow Americans, we cannot fall into complacency or indifference about this election, because still the only thing necessary for evil to be triumphant is for good people to do nothing. My fellow Americans, we cannot be seduced into cynicism about our politics, because cynicism is a refuge for cowards and this nation is and must always be the home of the brave. We are the United States of America. We will not falter or fail. We will not retreat or surrender – we will not surrender our values, we will not surrender our ideals, we will not surrender the moral high ground.
Here in Philadelphia, let us declare again that we will be a free people. Free from fear and intimidation. Let us declare that we are a nation of interdependence, and that in America love always trumps hate. Let us declare, so that generations yet unborn can hear us. We are the United States of America; our best days are ahead of us.
And together, with Hillary Clinton as our President, America, we will rise.
Look at Congress since the Republicans took over. Democrats proposed refinancing student loans and Republicans? They said no. Democrats proposed ending tax breaks for corporations that shipped jobs overseas, and Republicans said no. Democrats proposed raising the minimum wage and Republicans? They said no. To every Republican in Congress who said no: This November, we’re coming for you.
And where was Donald Trump? In all of these fights, not once did he lift a finger to help working people. And why would he? His whole life has been about taking advantage of that rigged system. Time after time, he preyed on working people, people in debt, people who had fallen on hard times. He’s conned them, he’s defrauded them, and he’s ripped them off. Look at his history. Donald Trump said he was “excited” for the 2008 housing crash that devastated millions of American families because he thought it would help him scoop up more real estate on the cheap. Donald Trump set up a fake university to make money while cheating people and taking their life savings.
Donald Trump goes on and on and on about being a successful businessman but he filed business bankruptcy six times, always to protect his own money and stick the investors and contractors with the bill. Donald Trump hired plumbers and painters and construction workers to do hard labor for his businesses and then he told them to take only a fraction of what he owed or fight his lawyers in court for years.
So what kind of a man acts like this? What kind of a man roots for an economic crash that caused millions of people their jobs, their homes, their life savings? What kind of a man cheats students, cheats investors, cheats workers? I’ll tell you what kind of a man — a man who must never be president of the United States. Never. And we’ve got the leaders to make it happen: Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. They’re going to make it happen.
Together, my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution – our revolution – continues. Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice – that struggle continues. And I look forward to being part of that struggle with you.
Let me be as clear as I can be. This election is not about, and has never been about, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates who sought the presidency. This election is not about political gossip. It’s not about polls. It’s not about campaign strategy. It’s not about fundraising. It’s not about all the things the media spends so much time discussing.
This election is about – and must be about – the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and grandchildren.
If you don’t believe this election is important, if you think you can sit it out, 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.
We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. We need leadership which brings our people together and makes us stronger – not leadership which insults Latinos, Muslims, women, African-Americans and veterans – and divides us up.
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.
Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency – and I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.
I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I remember her as a great first lady who broke precedent in terms of the role that a first lady was supposed to play as she helped lead the fight for universal health care. I served with her in the United States Senate and know her as a fierce advocate for the rights of children.
Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here tonight.
Next up: The formal clinch by Clinton, with Sanders’ name also put into nomination and his delegates given a chance to vote for him — a good old roll call of the states, great news for old school political junkies.