Panetta did the kind of bland speechifying you’d expect from a former secretary of defense at a political convention. He talked about his upbringing, said that our soldiers were our greatest natural resource, and attacked his candidate’s opponent’s record. But the crowd on the third night of the DNC is a bit rowdier than the crowd on the second. At multiple points in his boilerplate speech, Panetta had to stop as chants of “No more war” cascaded around the Wells Fargo Arena. He didn’t expect the response and it seems safe to say that the Clinton campaign didn’t either—Panetta was there to discredit Donald Trump, but the audience in Philadelphia did everything it could to discredit him.
Panetta—who, it’s worth pointing out, threw President Obama under the bus in his memoir two years ago—represents the hawkish wing of the Democratic Party, which Bernie Sanders and his supporters vehemently oppose. As director of the CIA and secretary of defense, Panetta oversaw the country’s forever war in two countries and a drone program that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians. It’s unclear if the protesters were responding to these specific policies or just Panetta himself, but it’s clear that he might not have been the best choice for a prime-time speaker’s slot.