Politics & Policy

Mask Makers

Feigning moderation.

This Democratic National Convention, more than any other in recent memory, is a vast effort at political camouflage.

Michael Dukakis has been hidden away, the Democratic high command has put a gag order on discussion of gay marriage, and the word “strength”–repeated an amazing 106 times in the Democratic party platform–is the mantra of the week for the anti-war party.

Let’s give the liberal Democrats running their party credit. They are still sufficiently self-aware to realize that they can’t be themselves and win votes from people in those boring places in the middle of the country. They understand that their nominee is a dull liberal from Massachusetts with a voting record and policy positions far outside the mainstream.

And they can read surveys.

The new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows President Bush moving from a net 5 percent advantage on “strong leader” in late June to a net 19 percent advantage on July 25. That 14-point move toward Bush on “strength” explains why “strength” is the Democrat buzzword at this convention. Couple Bush’s strength on “strength” with his 18-point advantage over Kerry on fighting terrorism, and it’s easy to see why the Michael Moore party is sounding so bellicose in Boston.

The data also shows Bush getting a net eight-point bump on “shares your values”–up from a two-point deficit on this measure in June to a six-point advantage over Kerry now. This explains the gag order on gay marriage and Barack Obama’s attempt last night to sweep all those nasty differences on social policy under the rug by saying that “there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.”

Culture war? Nah. Liberal America? Nah. We’re all just regular old Americans here in Boston for a nonpartisan convention. Regular Americans who, according to a recent CBS News poll of the 2004 Democratic Convention delegates,

‐are for protecting the environment “even if it means jobs in your community are lost because of it” (62 percent agree, 23 percent disagree).

They’re not stupid, these liberal Democrats. They want power back. And they’re willing to stage whatever production is needed in order to defeat George W. Bush.

They’ve put quite a mask on their party in Boston, and the press won’t rip it off. That will be up to the Bush campaign, and there are plenty of tools at their disposal.

The three with the most potential at this time are:

‐Videotape of Al Gore’s 2000 campaign manager (Donna Brazile) telling Bill O’Reilly on September 5, 2001, “I think John Kerry is far more liberal than Al Gore.” It would be worth a shuttle flight up to Boston just to see Brazile pull a political Houdini and escape that rhetorical straight jacket.

Robert Moran is a vice president at Republican polling firm Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates. He is an NRO contributor.


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