Last night Sen. Booker and First Lady Obama delivered old-fashioned barnburners that acted as high explosives to help put out the day's wellhead fires, and Sens. Warren and Sanders (née Bernie) offered up serviceable lectures to the indefatigably disgruntled. (Sen. Warren suffered the piercing indignity of having "We trusted you!" shouted at her from the floor, but the television audience couldn't make it out, hence so much for the shouts' intended national humiliation.)
That much, as I read the press reviews, is this morning's consensus. The televised revolution was, in the end, something of a smoldering fizzle. Minute by tension- filled minute, from Sen. Booker on to Sen. Sanders, adult cheers gradually drowned out the adolescent disapprovals. Perhaps my opinion is an outlier, but the evening's real hero preceded that cast — and with Politico's Glenn Thrush, who has expressed what is probably another journalistic consensus, I could not disagree more:
[Sanders-supporter Sarah Silverman] made a serious miscalculation. When she called for the audience to back Clinton … they responded with deafening, unifying applause. But then she taunted the vanquished, a rookie political mistake. "To the Bernie-or-Bust people, you are being ridiculous!" she said, standing next to a puckered Saturday Night Live stalwart-turned-Minnesota Sen. Al Franken. The upper tier erupted in a cascade of "Bernie!" — out came the signs — and the kumbaya narrative was momentarily shattered.
Momentarily shattered, for sure. If you were watching you would have noted, however, that Silverman's scathing comment marked the cascading beginning of the smoldering end. The indefatigably disgruntled morphed, well, defatigable — definitely in volume, and seemingly in numbers. Silverman only said what needed to be said; she pulled a kind of virtuous Trumpism, she said precisely what was in the minds of millions watching: Some of you are behaving like children, you're an embarrassment, you are being ridiculous, now grow up (as Sen. Sanders has).
What, after all, were the shrilly disgruntled protesting and jeering and shouting about? Phantoms — a Dickensian undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. The NY Times reported a similar metaphor: "In a way, the angry remnants of Mr. Sanders’s presidential campaign are not really about him anymore: They have become a stew of simmering grievances from the primaries about rules, process, money, fairness and democracy — and were reignited by leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee revealing the bias of some party officials in favor of Mrs. Clinton."
And there's the pity, or rather, the pitifulness, of it all. For the Sanders camp, did the wicked establishment change the primary/caucus rules, distort the process, hinder the money, impede fairness, or destroy democracy? Aside from some of them being entertainingly stupid (for being in print), did the DNC's emails and their obvious bias in any way cost Bernie the nomination? The answer, of course, is a thundering "No." Sen. Sanders simply lost. This has been known to happen in politics, when there can be only one winner. This wasn't a T-ball game, in which all the children get a trophy and blue ribbon, so as not to hurt anyone's delicate feelings.
No, Sarah Silverman made no "rookie political mistake." She merely offered a blunt, much-needed observation of adult supervision. She was the kick-off hero of the evening.