Politics & Policy

Some Nauseating Speeches–Plus Ice Cream

For many weeks now, I’ve been saying that Michael Moore is at the center of the Democratic party. We have further confirmation in his placement beside President and Mrs. Carter at the convention.

Now, here’s my question for the Republicans: Why not hang Moore around the necks of the Democrats, who have invited him around their necks, anyway? Why not talk back to the Democrats, and to Moore? Why not put him in a commercial? Why not flash pictures of him with the Carters at the convention? Why not highlight Terry McAuliffe’s endorsement of him?

Why, why?

A great many people–not all of them Democrats–think that Bush will lose this election. If we are to lose, we might as well give it our best shot. The media will scream bloody murder no matter how we campaign. Why don’t we campaign boldly?

I say about race: They’re going to call you a racist anyway; do the right thing (i.e., oppose preferences). I say about Social Security: They’re going to say you hate Grandma anyway; do the right thing (i.e., push for reform).

About Republican television ads: They’re going to say you’re unacceptable anyway–give it your best shot.

‐Meantime, Al Sharpton is a marquee Democrat, and the nominee–Kerry–has called him the “moral compass” of the party. Why not ask Steven Pagones–the assistant DA whom Sharpton accused of raping and mutilating Tawana Brawley (who was attacked by no one)–to speak at the Republican convention?

Why not bother to inform the public that the Democratic nominee considers Sharpton the moral compass of their party?

Why?

To win this election, Republicans will have to have both smarts and spine.

‐Democrats are irritated when Republican conventions seem to hide the core convictions of the Republican party (you know, taking bread from poor children’s mouths, keeping blacks down, etc.). I know how they feel. We haven’t heard much about gay marriage at the Fleet Center; we haven’t heard much about abortion; we have heard a lot about soaking the rich, but the rich, in Democratic rhetoric, are about 100 guys in top hats.

‐Another major irritant: So many of the Democratic speakers pretend that 9/11 never happened. Under Clinton, we had peace. But under Bush, we don’t have peace, we have war, we have turmoil, we have anguish.

Well, sure: December 8, 1941, was rather different from December 6, 1941.

Is that not elementary?

‐Eliot Spitzer is here, a recent NR cover boy. New York’s attorney general is the very image of a slick, programmed politician. I swear–and I should not be “lookist”–he looks like he could rip the skin of his face off, to reveal wires underneath. When he smiles at a delegate, I wonder why the delegate isn’t scared.

‐A word about Teresa (and I write this pre-speech): She’s minding her p’s and q’s now, which is a bit of a shame. But a reader e-mailed me an item from the official John Kerry blog. It reveals that Mrs. K. has handed out pins that say, “Asses of Evil,” which asses, we are told, are Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft.

Now, I don’t get sputtery about this kind of thing. But I ask (for the zillionth time): What if a Republican wife behaved this way? Would the media be so blasé?

And remember: It’s not Republicans spreading this information about THK; the Democratic campaign is proudly proffering it.

‐Some comments on Ted Kennedy, with your forbearance. I thought his speech was repulsive. Bob Shrum could have written it. Yesterday, I cited Ed Koch’s label for Mayor Giuliani: “Nasty Man.” Kennedy can wear that. (And, yes, I allow for partisanship, particularly that at a convention.)

“The eyes of the world were on us and the hearts of the world were with us after September 11th–until this administration broke that trust.” (That was Ted K.)

Sure, the world loves–or is sympathetic to–an America that is down and bleeding; the world loves less an America that is on its feet and fighting back.

“We should have honored, not ignored, the pledges we made.”

What pledges? I do not ask rhetorically; I honestly don’t know what Kennedy meant.

“We should have strengthened, not scorned, the alliances that won two world wars and the Cold War.”

Er, those two world wars: Would those alliances include Germany?

A major theme of Kennedy’s speech was that “the world” does not approve of the Bush administration. Or, to put it more accurately: The French disapprove, therefore we are wrong.

The hell and messiness of war? “None of this had to happen.”

And Ted had a question: “How could any president have possibly squandered the enormous goodwill that flowed to America from across the world after September 11th?”

I’ll say how: George W. Bush had to act–and had to prevent future 9/11s–not merely accept condolences.

The worst Kennedy had to offer was to quote John Adams’s White House prayer: “May none but [the] honest and wise ever rule under this roof”; continued Kennedy, “In November, we will make those words ring true again.”

The Adams prayer is part of what has been called our civic liturgy; how typical of Kennedy to kidnap it and abuse it.

At the beginning of his administration, W. invited Ted K. and his family to the White House. They watched a movie. They schmoozed.

That might have been a fool’s effort, but you can’t blame Bush for trying.

Kennedy abused another part of the American patrimony: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Said Kennedy, “Today, we say the only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush.”

Really? We don’t have to fear terrorists? North Korea’s nuclear weapons?

Kennedy asserted that the Democrats offer the “hope” of “schools that open golden doors of opportunity for all our children.” What, the Democrats are finally going to allow school choice?

Enough. If there is something to respect in this man, Kennedy, I don’t know what it is. The music played for him said “Still the one.” Yes, he is.

‐The worst of Senator Daschle’s speech? Well, you’ve heard of pitting Americans against Americans–but how about pitting Americans against Iraqis?

Said the Democratic leader in the Senate, “[Americans] wonder how we can build new schools in Iraq, while so many American schools are crumbling. [Really? Is it lack of money that ails American schools? What is this, a National Education Association press release?] And it doesn’t make sense to them that we’re paying over $2 for gasoline at home, while American taxpayers are funding nickel-a-gallon gas in Iraq.”

Germany and Japan were good investments; Iraq is too–if the Daschles will permit it.

‐About Barack Obama: He has huge presence, and it would be no surprise if he appeared on a Democratic presidential ticket one day. He is a first-rate speaker, in part because he doesn’t let himself be managed by applause, and he doesn’t speak too slowly. That is the curse of public speaking–slowness. Idiots are forever telling speakers, “Slow down!” They are almost always wrong.

Anyway, Obama’s was a quite patriotic speech; it also offered little in the way of policy substance–no abortion, no real economics, no real foreign policy, etc.

Interestingly, he said that we must not have a blue America and a red America, a white America and a black America–we should have one America.

Hallelujah! But he should tell it to the Democratic party! (Of course, that’s what he did.) For years, Democrats have specialized in racialism, in “identity politics,” in Balkanization. We Republicans are the party of E pluribus unum (a slogan Obama cited). Especially pleasing was Obama’s rebuke of those who hold that “a black youth with a book is acting white.” Again, I hope he didn’t imagine he was speaking for Republicans’ benefit.

There was a line that puzzled me: Obama faulted Bush, indirectly, for “using faith as a wedge to divide us.” I know that liberals (such as Ron Reagan) frequently make this charge. But I don’t get it. In what way does Bush do this? I haven’t noticed.

What nauseated me was that, when Obama uttered the line–about not using faith to divide Americans–the camera turned to Jesse Jackson, who was on his feet and applauding.

This is the same Jackson who, at the 1992 Democratic convention, referred to Dan Quayle as King Herod. He called Herod “the Quayle of his day.”

It was one of the lowest moments in the modern history of the Democratic party.

Last, I’ve heard a lot this week about how Obama’s father herded goats in Kenya. Big whoop. Paul Laxalt’s father was a Basque who herded sheep. But who cares about the humble origins of conservative Republican politicians?

‐As regular readers know, I despise the use of children in politics–putting placards in their hands, and so on. Kids ought to be allowed to be kids, and to grow and evolve and form their opinions as they will.

That’s why I was especially pained to see that twelve-year-old girl, representing “Kids for Kerry.” This seems to me a mild–a very mild–form of child abuse. Adults should not permit kids to do this. Were you competent to decide on the presidency when you were twelve? (Frankly, I was a little better at twelve than I was at 17, but that’s another story.)

That twelve-year-old girl, Ilana Wexler, had a clever passage scolding Vice President Cheney for using the F-word. “If I had said that, I would have gotten a timeout,” etc. Very nice–but odd at the Kerry convention, considering that the candidate used the F-word against Bush, not in a private exchange, but in a public interview.

‐Oh, Teresa. What can I say about her speech (which I have just endured)? A little.

In the introductions of her, people talked constantly about Teresa’s “compassion”–and John’s. Compassion, compassion, compassion.

I believe I know these people who talk constantly about compassion. I grew up with them in Ann Arbor. Frankly, they tend to be bastards.

Teresa decided to show off her languages–and what was especially hilarious was her shout-out to the “Franco-Americans.” Yeah, all twelve of them in Maine. And how about “tutti gli italiani”? Italian speakers in this country number about three now. No one speaks Italian in Little Italy, for example.

I like to believe that Teresa’s showing off will not play well, but that is merely a wish.

In addition, her celebration of the Peace Corps volunteer, as the great American face, was truly offensive. Everyone loves the Peace Corps volunteer–certainly every liberal. But the Peace Corps volunteer doesn’t liberate Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Europe, or any other place. It’s the soldier. He does the hard and awful work of making it possible for the Peace Corps volunteer to show up.

Mrs. Kerry also indicated membership in the “No blood for oil!” crowd, saying that “alternative fuels will guarantee that not only will no American boy or girl go to war because of our dependence on foreign oil, but also . . .”

Can the Republicans make nothing of that?

A final point: I’ve heard Democrats say a thousand times this week that “environmentalism is good economics.” Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. But reason is barely allowed here.

Yesterday I ended on something sweet, namely a paean to the Boston Ice Cream Factory, out on Morrissey Blvd. here in the Massachusetts capital.

Other Americans contributed their own parlor paeans: “Jay, the best ice cream on the planet can be found at Wishes, in Gurnee, Ill.”

“Dear Mr. Nordlinger: If you’re ever in Tampa, go to Bern’s Steakhouse and have the macadamia-nut ice cream for dessert. Now that is really the best in the world.”

“Jay, you obviously haven’t had Ted Drewes[‘s?] frozen custard in St. Louis.”

“Jay, I believe the best ice cream I have ever tasted has been from the Dam Ice Cream Shop, in Chocorua, N.H. If you are ever up in that area (national forest), try the moosetracks.”

Chocorua for chocoholics?

“Jay, the best ice cream I’ve ever had, so far, was from a stand in the main lobby of the Louvre, on a day trip from my base in Germany during Desert Storm, circa February 1991.”

Finally, several readers tipped their hat to the famous Graeter’s, in Ohio.

As for me, I am, with ice creams, like Julio Iglesias is with women: I love them all.

Bless you all, and I’ll catch you tomorrow.

‐Oh, I wanted to say one more thing: Thanks to all the NR and NRO fans who came to Doyle’s on Tuesday. Was such a pleasure to meet you. Can’t remember being around nicer people! Our gathering will prove the highlight of the week, no doubt–unless Kerry cares to forfeit on Thursday night.

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