It's a pity we can't see footage of the John Kerry rally at Radio City Music Hall, but you can certainly imagine its solemn majesty. The spotlit flag. The stirring sight of America's celebrities standing with their hands over their hearts as the national anthem was played. A few witty remarks from our beloved jesters poking fun at Osama and Saddam, capped off with a spirited speech by Kerry: "We face an enemy who has sworn the end of the very freedoms we hold dear, and we will not stop until that enemy has no haven, no power, no weapons, no words to utter save those of surrender. This is America, and united we will win." What a night!
Of course, it didn't happen. You got Whoopi Goldberg making jokes about her crotch. You had Chevy Chase calling the president as "dumb as an egg timer" a knee-slapper he also used against Howard Stern in 1992. Paul Newman took the stage to call the tax cuts "borderline criminal." Letting people keep more of their money: a criminal act. (Note to self: Go shoplift some of Newman's dressing. For the people!) Then John Mellencamp sang a very special song about a tyrant, a "cheap thug" who "sacrifices our young." George W. Bush, of course.
Hey, it's not hate if it's true! Noted international expert and serial insult-recycler Chase expanded on his remarks after the event:
"I'm frightened by Bush, if you want to know the truth. He's a narcissist, as are we all. But, eh, he's managed to, ah, you know, form a few hate groups into a, ah, an entire Islamic jihad, and I, ah, I don't trust him."
We expect artists to say things like this because when it comes to smarts well, if the cue card said "as egg as dumb timers," they'd say it. And it brings to mind the age-old question: Why are most artists liberals? Well, we're told, they're in touch with the creative side of life, not the death-dealing, money-obsessed side like conservatives. Naturally this makes them more compassionate and sensitive, and these are the hallmarks of post-McGovern liberalism.
OK, fine, but these artists are usually people who end up rich from acting in violent movies.
True! But when was the last time Paul Newman actually shot someone? Huh? He might shoot someone in a movie, but in reality he gives his salad dressing profits to anti-gun causes.
OK, fine. But none of this means they know what they're talking about. They're famous for being pretty and speaking their lines in a pleasing fashion. They are also entitled to dissent, of course. We do not live in a world where we wake to the sound of trumpets and face our telescreens at full attention to hear the latest glorious news of the war Brothers! Doubleplus tidings! A major breakthrough on the Eastern Front! Chocorations increased 17 percent in celebration!
But to hear the Radio City Music Hall audience blather, you'd think we were an election away from just such a world. You know, "Brave New Animal Farm" or whatever it was called. It was on Bravo last week.
Kerry took the stage at the end of the rally and praised the performers as the "heart and soul" of America. Yes, that's the crowd that best exemplifies this country: 3,000 rich celebs who don't know what they pay in taxes unless the accountant tells them. Oh, they may never have been to Nebraskasota, or whatever that heartlandy place is called, but they just passed on a script that was set there. It was about a farm or something. The farms are always in trouble, aren't they? Stupid Bush.
That's why we'll never see the tape of the Kerry rally. How would it look to a swing voter worried about the next Sept. 11? Al-Qaida is coiled for the next big pre-election strike, and the Democrats assemble in New York to laugh at the man who took out the Taliban and the fascist of Baghdad.
Bush hammers home the point: We're at war and they want us dead. Bush's foes find that fact annoying. Stop with the war already! We just want to make Whoopi.
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JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.