Democrats 2000: Divided and defensive they stand

By Shelley McKinney
web posted August 21, 2000

As I watched bits and pieces of the Democratic Convention broadcast from Los Angeles last week, I was astonished over and over again by the fragmented nature of the party, by the constant sense of disassociation that carried on throughout the entire week. There's more to this than my just not agreeing with liberal philosophies: I'm certain that if I could sit down with some of these folks and talk about books, or children, or pretty much any subject but politics, I'd find most of them to be likable. But massed together as a group in the Staples Center, all I could manage to do was stare at the TV screen and think, "What is going ON with this crowd?"

The Gores and the Liebermans at the conventionFar from walking in lockstep to put the embarrassments of the Clinton Administration behind them, these people seem to be shortsightedly creating new disturbances to keep their knickers in a constant twist -- it's difficult to keep up with all the day-to-day and sometimes minute-to-minute changes that the Democrats are inflicting upon themselves like some kind of party-wide multiple personality disorder.

Naturally, the big event at the convention centered around the Democratic National Committee's co-chairperson, Representative Loretta Sanchez. As you probably remember, Mrs. Sanchez was sponsoring a big fund-raising fete for a group called Hispanic Unity which was to take place at the Playboy Mansion on the evening of August 16. Organizing a large gathering like this one typically takes several months, and Mrs. Sanchez had a green light from the DNC to do whatever she needed to do to make the event a success. The big night had almost arrived when the rug was unceremoniously jerked from beneath the heels of her dancin' shoes: Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are family men, she was sternly told by DNC chairman Joe Andrew. It would be inappropriate and unseemly to hold a fund-raiser at such a notorious address, especially since Hugh himself was going to be in attendance, providing escort to his three babe-a-licious live-in lovers.

Naturally, Loretta Sanchez was indignant and frankly furious. After all, Democrats have held fund-raisers at the Playboy Mansion before and nobody has kicked up a fuss. In fact, Hugh Hefner and his daughter Christie have both made generous donations to the Democratic Party and Al Gore's campaign just this year. It would be rude and insulting to imply that the Playboy Mansion was not good enough for this Dem-event.

Joe Andrew told Mrs. Sanchez to find another venue, and she stubbornly told him that all the arrangements had been made and that she couldn't understand what the problem was. Andrew summarily informed that if she didn't find another location, she would lose her coveted speaking role at the convention, and also jeopardize party support for her upcoming re-election bid against Gloria Matta Tuchman in November. And they might even relieve her of her credentials as the DNC co-chairperson. So there!

Apparently, no one thought to tell Mrs. Sanchez about that little thing called "Clinton Fatigue." It apparently occurred to party officials that the idea of a Democratic congresswoman holding a fund-raiser at the notorious digs didn't seem like such a hot idea. After all, could anyplace in America be more representative of Bill Clinton than the Playboy mansion? I mean, we are talking about the President who views himself as the biggest ladies' man of all time, God's gift to interns and courthouse clerks, soccer moms and flight attendants; a man who needs very little, if any, provocation to invite women to "kiss it." I'd be willing to bet that if Hugh Hefner ever decided to retire from his tawdry lifestyle and move to a cottage in the country to grow hollyhocks, Bill Clinton would be getting himself fitted for a smoking jacket before you could say "Is this a Cuban cigar?"

So there was the spectacle of highly-placed personnel within the party tugging back and forth, making threats and delivering tersely-worded messages to the media, who were delightedly keeping up with the story. Not for one minute was there any sort of conciliation between Mrs. Sanchez and the Democratic National Committee, not even for the sake of their candidate, who needs to put a lot of distance between himself and Bill Clinton's libidinous frenzies. Even when the location of the party was changed to B.B. King's House of Blues, Sanchez was still sniping to the press and haughtily refusing to speak at the convention at all.

"Let's just say I've been treated better before," she said darkly. "Now go find another story."

I watched all of this with bemused interest, wondering why the focus was suddenly on family. The last time I looked, the Democratic Party was the bunker the feminists hide in to fire their salvos at the likes of Hugh and Christie Hefner, both of whom are pornographers, after all. Isn't pornography degrading to women? Of course, Hugh and Christie are squatting in the same bunker, firing their own shots back at the feminists in the name of the First Amendment. Go figure. Who can keep this all straight?

I found vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman to be another dis-unifier in the Democratic Party. Senator Lieberman made extravagant claims about his Orthodox Jewish faith when Al Gore chose him, assuring Americans with extreme "gravitas" that he was a religious man who would be observing shabbat...yet less than two weeks later, he apparently disregarded the sober observations of Tisha B'Av, the Jewish day of mourning which required those of the Orthodox faith to fast from sundown on Wednesday until sundown on Thursday: he was seen snacking, although I trust he was not eating Vienna sausages-on-crackers. Lieberman then hopped aboard a boat to go on a leisurely campaigning cruise down the Mississippi this past weekend. Weekends generally include Saturdays, don't they?

I realize that it is a risky business to criticize another person's faith, but I have to ask why -- WHY? -- did Joe Lieberman make such an issue out of his Orthodox Judaism? Apparently, it's difficult to know which Joe you're working with at any given moment. Is he Jewish Joe, who makes statements about how enormously important his faith is in his life, or is he Political Joe, glad-handing and baby-kissing on the Sabbath? Doesn't it just seem as if it would have been best to just leave the whole question of his religious faith alone? Because the way it seems now, he is using his Jewishness ONLY as a way to make him seem like a man of sobriety and substance. This constant flip-flopping with no Democrat ever stepping forward to say "Hey, make up your MIND" makes the party look like an entire village inhabited exclusively by drooling idiots. They simply have no solid substance whatsoever.

The most painful part of the entire convention for me was Tipper Gore's speech to introduce Al-as-we've-never-known-him to the delegates. She had the air of a frightened horse about to shy; the only thing she didn't do was throw back her head and whinny. It would be terribly difficult to speak in front of so many people plus television cameras, and even more difficult to provide a voice-over for the snapshots from the Gore family album. It just seemed w-a-a-ay too much like a desperate bid to get some sort of warm feeling worked up in the stony hearts of all those people out there who still -- for some unfathomable reason -- like Bill Clinton. It spoke loudly of disunity, and I found it to be very strange.

Al Gore is a leftist fruitcake, don't get me wrong. But he seems to be, in some awful way, a nice man. For example, witness the slurpy kiss and the full-body embrace Al bestowed upon the unwary Tipper as he bounded energetically onstage, trying doggedly to look like a player. My husband and I (who have kissed several times ourselves) both leaped back in our seats simultaneously and said "Eeeewwww!"

This is not Al Gore. This is somebody else's idea of what Al Gore should be in order to win the allegiance of a half-hearted, lukewarm delegation. Now I could see Bill Clinton bouncing up the steps and whirling Hillary into a passionate embrace while exploring her tonsils with his tongue (I can also see Hillary felling him with a single death-ray look upon being released) but this is not, I repeat, Al Gore. From what we all have known for the past eight years, Al seems more likely to sedately climb the carpeted steps and solemnly offer Tipper, say, a fountain pen instead of a big, wet smooch.

As the embrace went on and on, ad nauseam, my husband dryly remarked, "That ginko biloba therapy seems to be helping him."

Are Al Gore's people trying to make this poor, stuffy man schizophrenic? It just seems wrong to attempt to get a person to change his entire personality for the sake of winning an election. He might be a dull and bookish fellow, but so what? Clinton had enough personal charisma for four people, and look where it got us. Anything would be better than to see Gore's face stretched into that unnatural grimace again, and if I ever see him lovin' Tipper up like that again, I'm going to send a bill for new living room carpet and a new pair of shoes straight to the DNC.

So who are these Democrats? What do they stand for? It was impossible to tell from Al Gore's speech, which simply promised everything to everybody, from the usual pro-abortion and environmental groups to the farthest left wing flapping. They should all know by now that all that blather is just not going to happen, but none of them ever seem to ask any questions and many people just don't believe that the Democratic party can hang together long enough to pull this election off.

This could only be a good thing for all of us conservatives who have been experiencing Clinton Fatigue and Gore Fatigue simultaneously for the better part of a decade. A VERY good thing.

Shelley McKinney is a regular contributor to Enter Stage Right.

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