The amateurs torpedoed Clinton

There is no evidence of chair throwing, just some latter-day witness statements.

There were no death threats.

There was only spin.

After all the ink and all the airtime about the May 14 Nevada Democratic Convention, it comes down to this, from available evidence—smears. And those smears did damage. Bernie Sanders and his supporters were tarnished and embittered, reducing their value to Democrats in autumn.

If there is one rule for political conventions, it is, “Treat the losers like royalty.” Holding a vote on Robert’s Rules would have cost the convention officers nothing and would have changed the whole tenor of the subsequent proceedings. Behaving that way would also have sped up the convention by reducing the protests.

At every turn, party officials—who controlled the convention—should have been treating the Sanders delegates with kid gloves, bringing them into the process, allowing their motions, and then voting them down.

Instead, the amateurish officials embittered an enthusiastic, optimistic group of people who had earned their places on the floor by treating them like intruders and slandering them. There is a term in the Sanders camp for the workers who have no intention of switching to Clinton in the fall. It is Bernie or Bust. A few Bernie or Busters arrived at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel. A lot more departed. Their number should have decreased after a well-run, professional gathering. Instead, it increased.

Then there are the speech issues. It ill behooves a political party founded by a man who sponsored attacks on his opponent as a hermaphrodite to treat distasteful but purely political criticism in emails and other messages as “harassment,” much less as “death threats.” What was wielded was words, and the right to employ them in protest is hallowed in the United States of America.

Those chairs: They are not folding chairs from a bridge game. They are casino chairs—very heavy, inflexible, stackable, with steel structures, not easily thrown. Throw them and someone could get killed. No one was even injured by the phantom chair throwing.

Before the convention even started, Nevada Democratic officials showed their hand with rules that were designed for manipulation. Why would anyone write a rule providing for all votes to be voice votes—and then disallow motions for real votes? Something about this reeks of boss rule and a party whose rank and file is held in contempt. Naturally, this time-tested method for manipulating conventions raised the suspicions of the Sanders people, who had an online petition seeking rules changes well before the convention even started, making it plain that their discontent did not begin when the convention went into session and the Clinton forces won a 33-vote majority.

Before the Nevada Democratic Convention, Sen. Sanders was one of the few figures in this campaign whose stature grew with the public over the months, and his supporters were widely admired. The Nevada Democratic Party used its public relations apparatus to make Sanders and his campaign look bad, reducing the value of his eventual endorsement of Hillary Clinton, reducing the chance of that endorsement, reducing the number of his supporters willing to reconcile themselves to the Clinton candidacy, reducing the good will in the upcoming national convention. That was quite a weekend’s work.

The Nevada Democratic Party’s spin apparatchiks should not expect a thank-you note from Clinton any time soon.