The Democratic game plan heading into their convention in Philadelphia would seem simple enough.
Stay positive, show unity, stay on message, don’t respond to Donald Trump’s tweets, and, by all means, don’t try to scare the bejeebers out of America.
Do all that and you should be peachy keen, unless WikiLeaks sends out 19,252 damaging emails with 8,034 attachments where the Democratic hierarchy trashes runner-up candidate Bernie Sanders in a disgusting and Nixonian way.
Uh, about that last one …
Yeah, the most bizarre presidential election in modern times – maybe ever – just got weirder. After the rumble in Cleveland last week, Republicans left the high road wide open for Democrats with green lights everywhere to give a message of sober judgment and leadership.
But WikiLeaks offered documented proof of what everyone pretty much knew anyway, namely that the fix was in to ensure Hillary Clinton was the nominee instead of Sanders. Just when it seemed like Sanders was ready campaign in earnest for Clinton, the emails – including exploring an attack on Sanders’ faith or even that he might be atheist – blew that to smithereens.
Hillary does seem to have an issue with emails, does she not?
Fortunately for Clinton, there is a patsy to take the fall – Democratic National Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Sanders made her the target Sunday, telling CNN, “I don’t think she is qualified to be the chair of the DNC, not only for these awful emails, which revealed the prejudice of the DNC, but also because we need a party that reaches out to working people and young people, and I don’t think her leadership style is doing that.”
Wasserman Schultz quickly caved to the inevitable, resigning Sunday afternoon.
But, here you go. I just spent several paragraphs talking about another unforced error by a major political party. Whether that turns into a real thing or a story with a short shelf life probably depends how well Democrats can define themselves in the coming week.
State Rep. Janet Cruz of Tampa, the incoming Florida House minority leader and a delegate to the convention, said showing differences between her party and the GOP should be easy – starting with diversity.
“What stood out to me in the Republican convention was looking at the delegates on the floor,” she said. “It was a time warp. It was unbelievable. It wasn’t representative of America. They’re angry because their model of diversity isn’t working.
“I didn’t see a lot of African-American faces. I didn’t see a lot of Latinos. I saw a lot of white guys and white women. I guarantee you one thing, we have more than 18 African-American delegates.”
Even with the WikiLeaks mess, Cruz believes the story at end of the convention will be a united party.
“We have a candidate we can believe in,” she said. “We have a candidate we can trust as a leader. The home run for us would be for the delegates to be excited about what’s ahead once the balloons drop.”
Joe Henderson has had a 45-year career in newspapers, including the last nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. He has covered a large variety of things, primarily in sports but also hard news. The two intertwined in the decade-long search to bring Major League Baseball to the area. Henderson was also City Hall reporter for two years and covered all sides of the sales tax issue that ultimately led to the construction of Raymond James Stadium. He served as a full-time sports columnist for about 10 years before moving to the metro news columnist for the last 4 ½ years. Henderson has numerous local, state and national writing awards. He has been married to his wife, Elaine, for nearly 35 years and has two grown sons — Ben and Patrick.