It’s still hard to believe what we saw at the beginning of Monday’s session of the Democratic National Convention — delegates interrupting the opening prayer to shout down Hillary Clinton’s name.
There was plenty of anger from Bernistas in the afternoon session, less as the evening wore on and first lady Michelle Obama gave that inspiring speech.
But the question remains — especially now that leaked emails show national Democratic leaders where on Clinton’s side all along — how many of Sanders’ supporters will back the ticket and how enthusiastically?
Talking to Pennsylvania delegates, I see plenty of differences among them and Sanders delegates with doubts, but little bitterness.
It doesn’t take that many people to make noise and leave an impression.
The Sanders delegates I spoke to on the floor said they didn’t boo when Clinton’s name was mentioned, but understood why some did.
One thing I noticed was that the 210 people in the delegation weren’t seated in two separate factions, which you’d expect if they were so angry they could hardly speak to one another.
People grabbed the seats they could, and the groups were more geographical than ideological.
Rigging the system
One Sanders delegate I spoke to is Lou Agre, a 62-year-old labor leader and an interesting sort of hybrid establishment-insurgent figure in the arena.
He loves Sanders’ populist message, so he’s an avid Bernie backer.
But he’s also Democratic leader of the 21st Ward in Roxborough and Manayunk, so he’s part of the traditional city Democratic machine and, as such, a political realist.
He isn’t bent out of shape about the DNC emails.
“Debbie Wasserman Schultz managed to take a fair process and make it look crooked,” Agre told me.Huh?
“Look, we’re in politics. Bernie knew he had the deck stacked against him. It’s not right, but it’s the way it is,” he said. “What happened in Iowa was wrong, what happened in Nevada and some other places was wrong, but we would have had pretty much the same result whatever. Hillary would have won anyway.”
Agre said the movement made progress, but it’s time to back the candidate.
It makes sense that a party hand like Agre would rally around the ticket, but many Sanders’ folks are deeply committed to the movement, not just him. They may vote for Clinton, but lose some enthusiasm for the election.
What Clinton and her campaign do over the next three days can have an impact on that.
One of the benefits the city can get from a national convention is the good will and buzz that thousands of people take home with them if they’re enchanted with the city.
You never know who may be more likely to open an office of their business here, send a kid to college here, or recommend it to friends for a visit.
So far, the buzz among reporters is bad, at least about the conditions and logistics at the Wells Fargo Center, and I have to agree with them.
The security perimeter is wide, forcing long, sweltering walks.
The arena is very warm in many places, and it’s hard to get around.
To get to my broadcast seat at the top of the arena, I have to take one of the three or four elevators in the building, which are slow and hand-operated by an employee. There are no stairs I can use.
Once there, I’m in a perch where equipment hanging from the ceiling obscures the video screen, and words from the podium are almost unintelligible due to terrible acoustics.
None of those things were true at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
I hope reporters’ experiences elsewhere in the city will be better.