The Democratic National Convention kicked off in Philadelphia last night and delegates were quick to show respect to the culture of their host city by lustily booing whoever got up to speak for roughly the first two hours.
Wells Fargo Arena (because what bank is more synonymous with Philly than Wells?*) looked and sounded at times like the rules meeting of an anarchist club, with Bernie Sanders supporters going ape in a last minute attempt to hijack the convention for their guy. In fairness to the Sanderistas, there was a lot for them to be pissed about regarding the DNC's behavior towards their campaign, and they let that be known.
But if the whole night (which included comedians, a very long Cory Booker speech, an old dude singing a folk song, and a very strong address from Michelle Obama) was prelude to Bernie showing up to try and calm the monster he created and can seemingly no longer control, the most important warm-up act was Elizabeth Warren.
Warren's speech was a mediocre melange of her far-left populist message, liberal identity politics and attacks on Donald Trump. Even her shots at Wall Street seemed muted, probably because she had to make them sound like this:
"We believe we don’t need WEAKER rules on Wall Street, we need stronger rules, and when big banks get too risky, break ’em up. Hillary will fight to hold big banks accountable. And we’re with her!"
You could feel that Warren definitely believed the first part.
And that weird energy transferred over to Bernie's appearance. After praising his followers, saying that he looked forward to their votes during the roll call Tuesday night and taking a quick shot at the DNC's rules, Sanders finally launched into an endorsement of Clinton that was...phrased clearly.
But then Bernie pulled a real Bernie and began to praise the Democratic platform... And by that we mean his interpretation of the Democratic platform.
Here's what Bernie had to say about this document that he suddenly loves so very much:
"But I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party. Among many other strong provisions, the Democratic Party now calls for breaking up the major financial institutions on Wall Street and the passage of a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act."
That is a significant coming together between the two campaigns! Hillary has been tepid at best about the idea of a new Glass-Steagall and she's openly criticized Bernie for his overly-broad call to "Break 'Em Up!" So it's pretty incredible that she allowed the platform to call directly for a willy-nilly breaking up of the banks and the passage of a new Glass-Steagall.
It's literally incredible.
Here's the wording of the platform:
Democrats will not hesitate to use and expand existing authorities as well as empower regulators to downsize or break apart financial institutions when necessary to protect the public and safeguard financial stability, including new authorities to go after risky shadow-banking activities. Banks should not be able to gamble with taxpayers’ deposits or pose an undue risk to Main Street. Democrats support a variety of ways to stop this from happening, including an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall as well as breaking up too-big-to-fail financial institutions that pose a systemic risk to the stability of our economy.
We don't want to question Bernie's reading comprehension, but his reading comprehension is bad. It's a major leap to say that this paragraph "Calls" for anything. It's a Clintonian list of ideas that they've heard people like and they might maybe use one day if these idiots would just fall in line and let Hill and Bill take control. The phrasing is purposefully vague and non-committal which clearly irks Bernie and Warren, but they can't just pretend it says what they want it to say and then attempt to make that wish manifest. That's a Trump move, bro.
Additionally, bringing back Glass-Steagall is a bad idea. Not just for the Clintons who killed the old one, but for the party as a whole. The old law was a mess and the implication of a new one would be both politically impossible and complicated enough that it would make Dodd-Frank look like a one page pamphlet of straightforward ideas. The Democrats spent years of torture drafting and passing Dodd-Frank to do whatever it is that Bernie thinks a new Glass-Steagall would do. Working to improve that law will be hard enough, but starting over on a new law in what will be an even more bitterly divided Congress is just a fool's errand.
Bernie has power over Hillary as long as his Patchouli-scented minions stir sh!t up on the convention floor, but she is the nominee and he might want to be a little more selective about how many unworkable ideas he tries to pin on her at one time. Reinterpreting the platform to make it say what he wants must be nice for Bernie, but it's not helping anyone.
Now maybe Bernie just got his platforms confused. There is a major party platform that calls directly for reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, but it's Trump's...and it's dumb.