That’s quite a mix of tags in the title of this article. I will probably never again have another opportunity to jam as many into a single headline.
The embarrassment created by the omission of a reference to God and whether Jerusalem was the capital of Israel almost stole the spotlight at the Democratic National Convention. It actually did until Bill Clinton’s speech overshadowed it. Nevertheless, it represents baggage that will follow the Obama re-election campaign. The incident will probably not cost the Democrats support from the existing pool of committed voters, but it could very well cost them support from uncommitted voters. In any event, the impact will be hard to measure, but damage control will detract from the campaign’s message. It will be like a pitcher constantly dealing with runners on base – it forces him to focus less on the batter.
This is not about whether you believe the platform should have included an explicit reference to God or to the status of Jerusalem; it is about the clumsy attempt to deal with adding them in and the veracity of the excuses offered up by party stalwarts.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Miami, FL tried to spin the initial omission of God and Jerusalem as a technical error.
According to the National Journal, Wasserman Schultz said, “Through the drafting process and the platform committee process, there was never any discussion or debate or commentary over adding or subtracting it.”
The Huffington Post quoted Senator Schumer on the omission: “It’s not that someone had a plan.”
That is as believable as if the RNC had omitted a reference to abortion and then claimed it was an oversight.
We can forget to dot an “i” or cross a “t”. We can change or omit an adjective.
But unknowingly change the substance of a key provision?
I don’t think so.
I’m a CPA. When writing footnotes to the financial statements, the first thing I do is read last year’s and consciously decide if something needs to be changed. Either it is applicable to the current year, or it is not. Either it remains unchanged, or it requires modification. Disclosures important enough to include in the footnotes require serious judgment when you change, modify or exclude them. You have to have a reason if you take any of those actions. If you say, “Oops, I made a mistake and should have said….”, you could get sued.
A party platform is a living document; you expect changes.
But simply trying to explain a substantive change as a simple mistake is not only disingenuous, it is an insult to the intelligence of the voters. Anyone who is not a diehard partisan will see through the smoke and take note of it. It will change some minds on election day.
Just as Governor Romney cannot deny being familiar with the key tenets of the Republican platform, to suggest that key Democratic Party leaders were unaware of sensitive provisions in their platform until the Republicans took note of them does not wash.
Whether you agree or not with the positions taken in the respective platforms, any eleventh hour scrambling to change them suggests pandering at its worst.
So, I have mentioned Schumer, Wasserman Schultz, God and Jerusalem. What about Mayor Villaraigosa?
He filled the role of the court jester in this affair. That’s about the only role he is fit to handle.
The mayor is accustomed to dealing with a City Council that votes in lockstep 95% of the time. I would dare say when it comes to two-thirds votes, the Council is in agreement 99% of the time. It must have been a shock, then, to the subject of Los Angeles Magazine’s “Failure” cover that there is such a thing as a democracy where people have diverse opinions.
His handling of the motion to restore the references to God and Jerusalem was a testament to the established definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. No different from his management of Los Angeles.
I only hope President Obama is not considering Villaraigosa for a post in the administration.