For much of the Democratic National Convention's first day, there was really only one story that mattered: Bernie Sanders' fans registering their dissatisfaction.
Sanders' fans protested outside the venue and inside. They booed references to Hillary Clinton. They heckled speakers who supported Hillary Clinton. They tried to disrupt the opening prayer. They even booed Bernie Sanders himself when he tried to urge his most ardent backers to be constructive.
At one point, Sanders delegates from California were heard chanting, "Lock her up!" marking the odd moment when far-left activists effectively adopted the mantra of far-right Republicans.
Democratic officials and convention organizers were, to put it mildly, eager to make Sanders' supporters happy. They fired the DNC chairwoman and scrapped her stage appearance. They apologized publicly and in writing for insulting private emails from DNC staffers. They adopted sought after procedural reforms. They changed the platform. They made Sanders the headliner of the entire night.
But for a very vocal minority, it wasn't enough. It was against this backdrop that the Vermont senator himself took the stage last night in Philadelphia.
The audience had been given "Bernie" signs in a font and color reminiscent of Clinton's branding as a subtle nod to unity. He took the stage to deafening applause as he wove Clinton into his stump speech, suggesting she fights for the same issues as he and his movement.
"I understand that many people here in this convention hall and around the country are disappointed about the final results of the nominating process. I think it's fair to say that no one is more disappointed than I am," he said.
"I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years," he continued. "I served with her in the United States Senate and know her as a fierce advocate for the rights of children."
"Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here tonight," he closed.
It's too soon to say with any confidence whether his most energetic backers were moved by his remarks, but let no one say Bernie Sanders didn't try. His speech and his endorsement was unequivocal. There were no winks or nods intended to encourage additional disruptions. The senator has the long game in mind -- he wants to build the foundation for a movement -- and seems to realize that self-indulgent tantrums do little to advance his goals.
In the process, Sanders also created a striking contrast to the developments of a week ago.
Donald Trump seems vastly more interested in punditry than public policy, so as he watched the first night of the Democratic National Convention last night, the Republican nominee, he did what lazy commentators do: Trump made snide remarks about the various Democrats determined to defeat him.
The GOP candidate did not, however, have anything to say about Michelle Obama, perhaps because she never mentioned him by name. The irony, however, is rich: no speaker in Philadelphia offered a more powerful indictment against Trump than the First Lady.
First Lady Michelle Obama gave a rousing and emotional appeal to Democrats on the opening night of their nominating convention by laying out the choice in November in stark terms: Who do you want to mold the next generation?
"I am here tonight because in this election there is only one person who I trust with that responsibility," Obama said. "There is only one person who is truly qualified to be president of the United States, and that is our friend Hillary Clinton."
The New York Times' Gail Collins, capturing the sentiment of many, noted overnight, "O.K., Michelle Obama stole the show."
Put it this way: the First Lady's remarks were so strikingly good, the New York Daily News felt compelled to throw out its original plan for the paper's front page -- which was going to focus on tantrums thrown by Bernie Sanders backers -- and replace it with a new front page celebrating Michelle Obama's emotional address. "The Lady Is Her Champ," the final headline read, adding, "Michelle's speech brings down house."
To understand why, it's worth revisiting, of all things, a recent television commercial.
Rachel Maddow points out that some Sanders supporters won't trust Hillary Clinton even when Bernie Sanders (who they do trust) tells them to, making it perhaps a better strategy for Clinton to focus on something else. watch
MSNBC political analysts Eugene Robinson and Nicolle Wallace react to comedian Sarah Silverman's speech to the Democratic National Convention and her admonition to the Bernie-or-Bust supporters that they're being ridiculous. watch
Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, and Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, discuss the allegations and evidence that Russian military intelligence and intelligence agency hackers are behind the theft of DNC e-mails given to Wikileaks. watch
Ben Jealous, former president of the NAACP, Bernie Sanders supporter and now Hillary Clinton endorser, discusses the hard political work taking place at the Democratic National Convention and why he is satisfied with the progress made with the Democratic Party. watch
Chuck Todd, NBC News political director, compares the Ted Cruz drama on the RNC opening night and the Bernie Sanders drama on the DNC opening night and where there are similarities between the supporters for Sanders and Cruz. watch
Rachel Maddow shows how even Bernie Sanders was booed by his own supporters when he emphasized the importance of electing Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, causing alarm over how far the disruptions would go. watch
Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.