This article appears in the August 23, 2004, issue of National Review.
If you watched only the events of the Democratic convention that took place inside Boston’s Fleet Center, you might have gotten the impression that Democrats have changed. They’re hawkish on defense, and while they certainly oppose George W. Bush, they’re no longer inclined to call him a fascist.
That’s what you saw on TV. But if you left the heavily-secured confines of the Fleet Center, and traveled around Boston to visit the hotels and meeting rooms in which Democrats gathered to discuss the campaign away from the national spotlight, you would have gotten a much different impression. There, the Democrats of convention week sounded remarkably like the trash-talking, Bush-bashing Democrats of the primary season.
Much of this talking went on at what amounted to a counter-convention held at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, just across the Charles River. The left-wing organizing group Campaign for America’s Future set up shop there, and their conference gave the party’s “progressive” activists a place to say what they really thought.
Former Vermont governor Howard Dean, for example, spoke to the group a few hours before he addressed the convention. His speech was the kind of run-on, semi-mad, semi-brilliant talk that Dean gave many times back in November and December 2003, when he was the odds-on favorite to win his party’s nomination.
Do you remember when Dean stirred controversy by claiming that the capture of Saddam Hussein had not made America any safer? He said it again at the Royal Sonesta, shouting, “Less safe! Less safe!” as the crowd cheered. Do you remember when Dean claimed that white southern voters choose candidates on the basis of “guns, God, and gays”? He said that again, too–to more cheers. Dean also jokingly implored Democrats not to call President Bush a fascist, at least not for the duration of the convention. And he implored the crowd to volunteer for local campaigns, even for lowly offices like library trustee, because “I think library trustee is a pretty important position in an administration where they like book burning better than reading books.”
YOU CAN READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE IN THE CURRENT ISSUE OF THE NEW DIGITAL VERSION OF NATIONAL REVIEW. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A SUBSCRIPTION TO NR DIGITAL OR NATIONAL REVIEW, YOU CAN SIGN UP FOR A SUBSCRIPTION TO NATIONAL REVIEW here OR NATIONAL REVIEW DIGITAL here (a subscription to NR includes Digital access).