Political analyst Mark Plotkin called the District of Columbia "the Rodney Dangerfield of American politics," and it's hard to argue with that assessment after a series of painful snubs suffered by top city officials attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. The humiliating treatment of the District delegation was shocking, given that D.C. has the most loyal and dependable Democratic constituency in the nation.
After delivering a 92 percent victory for President Obama in 2008, D.C. convention delegates were seated in the nosebleed section, literally as far away as possible from the speakers' podium. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.'s nonvoting delegate in the House of Representatives, blamed political operatives in the Obama campaign for not allowing her to address the convention, as she has done for the past two decades.
The message was unmistakable: D.C. Democrats have become an embarrassment to their own party. And in a too-close-to-call presidential race, Democrats plan to do everything in their power to keep them as far away from Obama's re-election campaign as possible, even if that means giving better convention seats to delegates from Guam and Puerto Rico. Or yanking Norton from the podium where she has addressed every Democratic convention since 1992 and replacing her with a Georgetown University law student demanding that taxpayers foot the bill for her contraceptives.
District delegates were so far removed from the center of the action on the convention floor that nobody would likely have noticed if they had followed Mayor Vincent Gray's plaintive suggestion to walk out in protest. Banished to a virtual Siberia -- a "free speech" area located blocks away from the Time Warner Cable Arena -- the delegates had to make their case for D.C. statehood to anybody willing to stop and listen during a drenching downpour. It was pathetic.
It was also predictable. Through multiple corruption scandals, Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Council members have not only made the city politically toxic for their fellow Democrats, they have set back their own case for statehood, as evidenced by the 2012 Democratic Party platform -- which doesn't endorse statehood, even though the party would get three more votes in Congress.
"Does DC's 3 electoral votes mean anything to ANYBODY?" dispirited Councilman Marion Barry tweeted in frustration. In a one-party town, the answer is no. But D.C. Democrats have only themselves to blame for their national shaming.