Sep 6, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
Excerpted from The Washington Times: The chairman of the Democratic Convention is denying there was any controversy about the way he managed the vote on changes to the party’s platform involving God and Jerusalem Wednesday, instead putting the onus on the delegates themselves for failing to object to his ruling.
“There wasn’t any controversy,” Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, told The Washington Times Thursday. “The delegates had 10 minutes to make an objection and they didn’t.”
When asked if the delegates knew they had the right to object, he said simply: “The delegates know the rules.”
Republicans have already jumped at the controversy, which marred the hopes of Democratic organizers to project a smooth and unified message on the convention’s second day.
In a chaotic few minutes at the podium, Mr. Villaraigosa Wednesday called for three separate voice votes on restoring the references to God and Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to the platform, before finally concluding — over the vocal objections of many on the floor — that the motion had passed by the required two-thirds majority.
A delegate objection presumably would have forced a time-consuming roll-call vote of all 6,000 delegates in attendance, a spectacle that would have served up a made-for-TV display of Democratic disunity for viewers across the country to see.
“It was my prerogative — it was my decision and I made it, but there wasn’t any controversy,” he insisted.
Democrats on Wednesday found themselves in the awkward position of having to amend their platform after critics discovered that it had changed in two significant ways from 2008. The 2012 version omitted the word “God” — a change from the party’s 2008 document and a noticeable split from Republicans, who referred to God 10 times in their official party platform approved in Tampa last week. The party also removed a 2008 reference to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a highly charged issue that Republicans condemned as a slight to the Jewish state.
After a day of bad press, President Obama weighed in and asked the platform committee to add a reference to God and affirmation that Democrats regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
When attempting to make the changes, Mr. Villaraigosa announced that party rules required a two-thirds vote to amend the party platform. But after three separate voice votes, which appeared to fall short of the threshold, he awkwardly gaveled the vote and declared that the two-thirds threshold had been met. The numerous cable networks set up to cover the vote captured the scene, showing a chaotic scene and the angry faces from numerous delegates outraged about the ruling of the chair.
In the aftermath, Republicans and cable news shows have had a field day with public display of party discord in the middle of a highly scripted week of events. Paul Begala, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton, called the turn of events “embarrassing” and an “unforced error.”