Democratic Platform Amended On God And Jerusalem Amid Boos From Delegates

What should have been a simple parliamentary procedure, conducted under President Obama's orders no less, turned into something of an embarrassment.

The DNC’s effort to amend the party platform to deal with the omission of references to God and Jerusalem’s status as the capital of Israel did not go exactly as planned:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two platform planks sparked division at the Democratic National Conventionhere Wednesday.

Things got so bad that President Barack Obama was forced to personally intervene, ordering language mentioning God and naming Jerusalem as the rightful capital of Israel be added.

Obama had seen the language prior to the convention, a campaign source said, but did not seek to change it until after Republicans jumped on the omissions of God and Jerusalem late Wednesday. And even then, it had to be forced through a convention hall full of delegates who nearly shouted down the change.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the convention’s chairman, kicked off Wednesday’s proceedings by trying to clean up a mess Democrats made by omitting from their official party platform mentions of God and of Jerusalem as the preferred capital of Israel.

Villaraigosa called for a voice vote on an amendment offered by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who chaired the platform drafting committee. Facing boos and “nay”s, he tried again, before announcing that in his judgment, a two-thirds majority had approved the measure. He was booed again as he walked off the stage.

It turned into a rather uncomfortable and contentious three minutes on the convention floor, requiring Villaraigosa to call for three voice votes in each of which the nay’s seemed to get louder each time:

Partly, this just seems like Villaraigosa not understanding how to handle a gavel. After the first vote, he should’ve just declared “in the opinion of the chair the ayes have it,”  regardless of what it sounded like on T.V., banged the gavel, and walked off the stage. Going back and redoing the voice vote two more times just made the whole thing look ridiculous, especially since it became clear by the third vote that the “ayes” didn’t really have the 2/3’s vote necessary to approve the amendment. Because of his incompetence with the gavel, he turned what should’ve been an easy procedure into an embarrassment. At the same time, though, one can be at least somewhat sympathetic for him, because I doubt anyone in the leadership really thought these would be controversial amendments.

One can argue that the controversy over these omissions is silly, and like pretty much all parts of a party platform they are, but they caused enough controversy even among Democrats, especially Jewish Democrats, that President Obama himself personally ordered that they be reinstated:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – President Obama ordered his staff to have the Democratic Party’s platform language changed to include God and affirm Jerusalem as the proper capital of Israel, a campaign source said Wednesday.

Obama ordered his staff to make the change, the source said, and Democrats followed by restoring language on both on a floor vote. The changes happened after Republicans seized on both to attack the party.

Perhaps this should have been made clear to the delegates.

Nonetheless, the boos were somewhat an embarressment for the party, to the extent that Debbbie Wasserman Schultz denied that there was any controversy at all shortly after the vote took place. Of course, Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz has had a little bit of trouble with the truth this week.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Religion, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Console says:

    Does the Obama administration itself even recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Yeah, that was a screw-up. Not good.

  3. Septimius says:

    Amateur hour at the DNC.

  4. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I wish I didn’t have to go to bed now, and could read all the outrage and denunciations and whatnot of the Chair of the Democratic National Committee being caught lying repeatedly. I’m certain it would be epic.

  5. Herb says:

    You’re not even trying anymore, are ya, Doug?

  6. JKB says:

    This ought to play well on the liberal news program, The Daily Show tomorrow.

  7. Just Me says:

    Looks like they didn’t expect the nays from the delegates or at least that forcefully.

    I agree the multiple votes just made it worse, but I am not convinced the average voter spends much time reading the party plank much less making their decision on who to vote for based on them. The opposition often likes to use them to score points.

  8. Herb says:

    Seriously, guys? You think this will matter tomorrow? It didn’t even matter fifteen minutes after it occurred.

  9. PD Shaw says:

    My quick search of past Democratic Party platforms did not suggest that God has appeared with much the Democratic Platform. I didn’t see “God” referenced in 1992, 2000 or 2004 (but I didn’t search for aqua buddha or other fashionable divinities of the time).

  10. bk says:

    You know what’s an “embarrassment”? The fact that all day long one of the top wingnut-pushed stories was how there was no mention of God in the platform. You know, like in the Constitution.

  11. Dazedandconfused says:

    Right after they were admonished to “grow a spine”, it’s just not a swift move. Screw up.

    Why? Even though it was a mess, that he intervened helps his position in Israel and that helps Bibi’s opponents.

  12. michael reynolds says:

    By the way, I know Doug has a game to watch, but out in the real world Bill Clinton just disassembled the GOP.

  13. Fiona says:

    The 2008 election was the first time in recent elections that the Republican platform mentioned G-d more times than the Democratic one: two mentions to one. This year the score was Republicans 12, Democrats zero (until the floor vote). (There’s a chart over at League of Ordinary Gentleman with respective nods to G-d). Talk about much ado about nothing. I’d bet G-d wants nothing to do with electoral politics.

  14. anjin-san says:

    After Clinton’s speech, I doubt very much there is any oxygen left for this.

  15. Argon says:

    Umm… Which god did they put into the platform? Humans have had so many and so you’d think the platform committee could be a little more specific. Or does the plank read ‘insert the name of your favorite deity here’? If so can I insert ‘FSM’?

  16. John Burgess says:

    I wonder if Bill can get that gig again on the Tonight Show? He was truly a ramblin’ man tonight.

  17. MstrB says:

    @michael reynolds: It was nice that a national audience got to experience what magic Angelenos experience on a daily basis under Tony. At least this time he gave up after the third failure instead of the fourth like usual.

  18. David M says:

    Definitely a bit of an embarrassment for sure, but doesn’t really seem consequential.

  19. de stijl says:

    One can argue that the controversy over these omissions is silly, and like pretty much all parts of a party platform they are

    God is in the details.

  20. superdestroyer says:


    It does not matter because what Democrats say never matters. A school board member in Arkansas can say something stupid and it is applied to every Republicans. However, what activist Democrats are saying at the national convention does not even matter.

    Democrats have such a media advantage these days that there own words or actions no longer matter. The only thing that matters is the spin.

  21. rodney dill says:

    @de stijl:

    God is in the details.

    I see what you did there.

  22. jukeboxgrad says:


    Bill Clinton just disassembled the GOP.

    Yes. And in yet another strategic blunder, Mitt’s campaign enhanced the impact of the speech by spending the day lowering expectations and saying things like this (Ryan):

    My guess is, we will get a great rendition of how good things were in the 1990s, but we’re not going to hear a lot about the last four years.

    But of course Clinton did talk “a lot about the last four years.” And the impact of him doing so is even greater because it’s exactly what Ryan said he wouldn’t do.

    Aside from being frauds, Gecko/Galt aren’t even good politicians.

  23. Lomax says:

    It remains to be seen if we will find out how the Jerusalem statement was taken out, when, and by whom. Michigan has a lot of Muslim delegates; that probably had something to do with it. Someone was trying to please them, but the majority caught on and wouldn’t have anything to do with it.

  24. mattb says:

    Oy… That’s a moment that (a) was a complete screw-up on multiple levels (including the decision to initially remove that stuff for this particular cycle) and (b) the Republicans would be fools not to immediately turn it around into a commercial.

  25. JKB says:

    Yes, God is in the details and so is true nature.

    The party platform has significance for 3 or 4 days every 4 years. During those days it is really just background, b-roll. That is if you don’t screw it up. The platform isn’t important, the missing element were and now the Democratic party rank and file booing Israel makes it very significant.

    This reminds me of other details that rose to significance. An iPod given to the Queen of England, a boxed set of DVDs, prime ministers being shuffled out the backdoor past the trash, a toast given artlessly, sparking the band. So many more, details that rose to significance.

    So the question is, given an administration that has a long track record of not getting the small things right, should we bet that they’ll get the big things right if given more time?

  26. mattb says:


    So the question is, given an administration that has a long track record of not getting the small things right, should we bet that they’ll get the big things right if given more time?

    Given the large number of unforced errors during Romney’s campaign (see his trip abroad for starters), it seems that this question can easily and effectively be applied to “both sides.”

  27. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    By the way, I know Doug has a game to watch, but out in the real world Bill Clinton just disassembled the GOP.

    Well, I suspect more of the real world is watching the game than watched both conventions put together. Just sayin’ …

    And come to think of it, the outcome of the game is more important than the convention, because the outcome of the convention is preset, and like the GOP convention, the only people watching are people who are politically interested enough that they’ve decided on who they’re going to vote for anyway.

    Disclaimer: I watched neither the game nor any of the conventions – its still the end of summer/beginning of fall, and the weather’s far too nice to spend inside watching TV. Conventions like this should be done in winter, when the weather’s bad.

  28. al-Ameda says:

    A couple of questions:
    (1) How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
    (2) How many angels can dance on the head of a pin in Jerusalem?

  29. JKB says:

    We really need to characterize the boos properly. They seem more directed at the vote fraud being perpetrated.

    Who knew there was some vote fraud that Democrats wouldn’t whole heartedly support?

  30. Neo says:

    I wasn’t around at the time, some 80 years ago, but they tell me that there was another political party which abused God and didn’t want Jews on their platform either.