Boston, Mass–I’m stuck in Boston doing some radio and TV interviews and I feel as though I’m in one of those sci-fi movies like Escape from New York where the U.S. government turns Manhattan into a penal farm and the streets are filled with nothing but packs of awful and maniacal criminals. These folks who’ve come to Boston this week aren’t dangerous (though their ideas are), but it’s almost as if a condition of entry this week at Logan Airport is having a few screws loose.
The Democratic National Convention can best be described as a lavish Bush-bashing festival. (Unfortunately, they’re not here to protest steel tariffs or a doubling of the education budget.) These people detest Bush the way cats detest bathtubs.
Of course, the party organizers are terrified that the American public will actually see these Bush haters foaming at the mouth and twitching at the very name of George W., so they have adopted a theme here: “Keep the message positive.” Part of the trick is to ask the delegates to masquerade as normal people, or at least virtually normal people. In effect, they are saying to the party faithful, “You know the way you always act. Don’t be that way. At least for 96 hours, wash your hair, be polite, pretend you actually like America and work at a real job.”
The TV networks have accommodated in promoting this charade. The panoramic shots of the convention give the impression that there’s no one here in Beantown but middle-class, flag-waving, child-hugging bus drivers and construction workers and soccer moms and grandmothers who are infuriated by Bush’s economic failures and his ill-conceived war games.
Don’t be fooled by the spinmeisters. These people are not middle America. When you go into the bakeries, you can actually purchase wedding cakes with two brides on the top. A baker tells me even straight couples are purchasing these ultra-chic wedding cakes, as a sign of solidarity. The best-selling t-shirt shows George Washington standing aside George W. Bush. Under Washington the caption reads: “Could not tell a lie.” Under Bush the caption: “Could not tell the truth.” Every third car has a bumper sticker screaming: “RE-DEFEAT BUSH IN 2004.” And then, of course, there are the many forms of advocacy for regime change in America. Leftist protesters give out placards reading: “George Bush is a lying sack of s%$@.” Gee, I remember when liberals said hate wasn’t a family value.
It seems every person I have met here is either a trial lawyer (the Edwards Brigade), a school teacher (about one third of the delegates are traditionally NEA members), a politician, a discontented student whining about cuts in school aid, or a lobbyist for a Washington-based tax-eating organization. These folks have as much interest in tax cuts as Linda Ronstadt has in lo-cal desserts. The common refrain from all of them is: more, more, more. More school funding, more child care, more taxes on the rich, more peanuts served on airlines, more drive-by abortions, more bilingual education, more pennants for the Red Sox (they are after all entitled, are they not?), more drivers licenses for illegal aliens.
Oh, and the hypocrisy. Receptions this week are hosted by multimillionaire trial lawyers and Hollywood stars munching on imported Caviar and sucking down French Merlots while protesting how unfair Bush’s policies have been for poor people. The only thing these upper-crust liberals know about how the other half lives is gleaned when maids from Guatamala come to turn their beds down and lay a Godiva Chocolate on their pillows.
Perhaps the most memorable moment for me was when two antiwar protesters with “Make Love, Not War” shirts (I’m not making this up) strutted in front of my taxi and shouted expletives, daring us to run them over.
I’m no George W. cheerleader myself, as regular readers of NRO can attest, but I’m more convinced than ever now of how dangerous the Kerry-Edwards Democrats really are. This is not Bill Clinton’s party–I don’t care what Hillary and Al Hunt say. The façade of New Democrat moderation has been stripped to the bone. Every Democrat pundit I have spoken to here has stressed John Kerry’s moderation and fiscal-conservative credentials. Kerry will be just like Clinton on the economy, they say. But Clinton ran as a free trader; Kerry campaigned in the primaries against free trade. Clinton signed into law a cut in the capital-gains tax; Kerry promises to raise it. Clinton supported welfare reform; Kerry has voted against it. Clinton was a moderate governor; Kerry is the number one liberal in the Senate. If Kerry can carry off this New Democrat label, then I’m Michael Jordan Jr. with a 40-inch vertical leap about to play for the U.S. Olympic dream-team in Athens.
Engaging the Democratic faithful in even playful debate on issues can be exacerbating. When a group of students were denouncing Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, I asked them how it is that the percentage of taxes paid by the rich went up, not down, after the Bush tax cuts. Blank stares and open jaws. Twenty seconds into the debate and they were already out of intellectual ammunition–and these kids go to Ivy League schools. One stunningly obtuse girl from Vasser told me she favors Kerry because what she wants most in 21st-century America is “a radical redistribution in wealth.” I tried to politely remind her that any third-rate dictator can redistribute wealth (even Pol Pot was good at that); the hard part is creating wealth.
I’ll escape Boston with a sense of relief, yes, but also and mostly with terror that in six months these oddballs and misfits may actually be running the government. I have this recurring nightmare of Michael Moore as secretary of state, Al Franken as treasury secretary, and Barbara Streisand on the Supreme Court.
Groucho Marx once famously said he didn’t want to belong to any club that would have him as a member. Well, I would never want to have a president who is a member of a political party who would have chumps like these as members. It seems unjust that so many pin-headed liberals could convene at one time under one roof when so many of them promised they would leave the country if George W. Bush became president.
Typical liberals: They never keep their word.
–Stephen Moore is president of the Club for Growth.