It was the ugliest moment of the Democratic National Convention, a rare chance to actually catch a glimpse on TV of its chairman, Antonio Villaraigosa, the self-styled radical centrist mayor of Los Angeles.
Republicans were howling over the Democrats’ decision to remove from their platform any mention of respect for the divine by deleting “God-given” from a phrase about their commitment to help people reach their “God-given potential.”
And worse, they enraged millions of Jewish voters, most of them Democrats, by dropping the phrase “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel” from their foreign policy statement on the Middle East.
The storm of criticism was more intense than the hurricane that didn’t hit Tampa last week, forcing President Obama to personally intervene and order God and Jerusalem reinstated to “maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the president and in the Democratic Party platform in 2008,” as the ubiquitous Congresswoman and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz put it.
It was left then to Antonio to call for a voice vote of the half-filled convention hall to make the problem go away.
“All those delegates in favor say, ‘Aye.’
“All those delegates opposed say, ‘No.’
“In the opinion of the … Let me do that again,” our mayor stammered over what seemed like a draw when a two-thirds vote was needed to amend the platform.
Repeating the same words with a forceful emphasis on each and every word as if commanding the delegates to obey his will, Antonio ran through a second vote with the same equivocal result.
With the audience yelling, the man who would be President or at least Governor broke out his famous smile which seemed frozen on his face as he tried to think on his feet and started looking around in something of a panic for the aides and benefactors who look after him.
His head spinning in all directions, he stammered, “I guess … ” and then a woman appeared at his side to advise him to try a third time to get the result he wanted.
“I’ll do that one more time,” he said, glaring at the crowd as if looks could kill as he bit his words one by one.
“In the opinion of the chair, two-thirds have voted in the affirmative. The motion is adopted and the platform has been amended as shown on the screen,” he said, arms outstretched to quell the angry shouts from the delegates.
So much for the pretense of democracy among the Democrats.
You can watch the video here or tune in any time of the day to Fox News to see it again and again. Or just wait for the barrage of Republican ads that will be running in communities with large Jewish population.