When the House Minority Whip walked on stage Monday evening, it started out as a happy, routine convention speech at what is quickly becoming the least conventional Democratic National Convention in a generation.
“Thank you, Maryland!” and “I love you, too,” called out Rep. Steny Hoyer (D.-Md.), to his state’s delegation perched high in the rafters chanting: “Steny! Steny! Steny!”
But, roughly one minute after his pitter-patter about the great city of Philadelphia and his thrills at serving as the convention’s parliamentarian, Hoyer looked around and said what he was supposed to say: “We’re here to nominate Hillary Clinton because of her–” Full Stop.
Hoyer could not finish his sentence as the delegates, many from the unruly California delegation that someone decided to put up front, booed in force at the second-ranking Democrat in the House. It was the California delegation that booed and catcalled the top-ranking Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.), at a breakfast meeting earlier Monday.
But, Hoyer is an old pro and he was not going to give up. After waiting nearly 20 seconds for the boos to subside, he glanced over to find his line on the teleprompter and he dug in again. “Because of her ability, her experience and her vision for our country.”
After checking the box, the whip moved on to safer, firmer earth. “We are also here to show America that Democrats up and down the ticket are ready to lead.”
The rest of the speech was all down hill: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden saved the country from the worst economy since the Great Depression and with the Democratic House and Senate passed the critical recovery programs, he said.
“America has come back,” he said. “But, we know that until opportunities come back for every American there is a lot more work to be done.”
Hoyer is a man of the House, so he could not resist giving a poke to Speaker Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.) about Ryan’s remarks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland the previous week: “Speaker Ryan said this election comes down to a contest of ideas. He’s right, but we’ve seen the disastrous results of Republican ideas.”
When the Marylander mentioned the Republican takeover of the House in 2011, he did not get the boos he got earlier when he exhorted the delegates to support Clinton. But, maybe the forces loyal to Sen. Bernie Sanders (D.-Vt.) were starting to wind down after a day of marches, rallies, and such white-hot anger at the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D.-Fla.) relinquished her gavel, her speaking slot, and perhaps her credentials, as rumors swirled through the arena that she had been escorted out the door. That is in no way confirmed, but the rumors reflect the mood of the convention hosted by the City of Brotherly Love.
When the whip closed, he called again for party unity. “All of us who supported Sanders, those who supported Clinton, those of us who supported my Governor O’Malley, all of us must bind together for our country and elect Hillary Clinton president of the United States.”
This time there was healthy applause and Hoyer walked off.