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Jewish World Review July 15, 2004 / 26 Tamuz, 5764

James Lileks

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Pretty faces, ugly words | 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."

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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.


07/08/04: Genocide can't happen if we banish the word
07/01/04: Dropping political discourse level
06/24/04: Kerry's Science Buddies and the Silly Sanctity of Life
06/17/04: Behold the Summer of Bill Clinton!
06/10/04: Whatever happened to respect for the presidency?
06/03/04: Tales at the intersection of war and popular culture
05/20/04: Athletes on Notice: Strive Unflaggingly
05/13/04: America likes Rumsfeld, and the Dems can't take it
05/07/04: Kerry Supporters Have a New Take on Vietnam War
05/05/04: New cell phone does everything, but there's a problem...
04/29/04: John Kerry, prisoner of symbolic politics
04/22/04: Shall we grovel? Kerry Plan to Restore America's Place in the World
04/08/04: Sept. 11 Might Have Been Different If ...
04/02/04: Slinging slime or citing facts?
03/26/04: One War, One Enemy
03/22/04: Bloodied Spain Rejoins Old Europe
03/12/04: Why All Those Foreign Leaders Want Kerry to Whup Bush
03/08/04: Introducing the Kerry Doctrine
02/27/04: Introducing the AWOLs: Angry White Outraged Libs
02/20/04: Sifting the headlines of election year 1992
02/18/04: Guess Which Candidate Our Enemies Want to Lose in 2004?
01/29/04: Every Laptop a Truth Squad
01/27/04: When the battle over artistic freedom goes over the edge
12/31/03: For the Left and Right, Some New Year's Resolutions
12/22/03: Dean's black helicopters
12/15/03: Dems Are Mainstreaming the Extreme
12/08/03: Does Dean Really Want to Be President? One Wonders, When He Opens His Mouth
11/24/03: The real story: Most Brits see U.S. as force for good
11/19/03: The Trouble With Al Gore's Screed on Civil Liberties
11/11/03: Can a fellow win with the Confederate Metrosexual vote?
10/22/03: Let's make Greenpeace pay
09/29/03: Ah-nold & Clark may be on different sides of the aisles, but their supporters are cut from the same cloth
09/19/03: All Hail the Ninth Circuit Court of Surreal
08/26/03: This time, the record industry doesn't stand a chance!
08/18/03: Assessing the Schwarzenegger Factor in Republicanism
08/08/03: No wonder Howard ‘Two Covers’ Dean gets all the buzz
08/04/03: Expect bad news for the foreseeable future
07/28/03: Despot's Deserts
07/21/03: No winners in this game of gotcha
07/14/03: Doing the right thing in Liberia may not be the right thing to do
06/27/03: On feet in Democratic mouths
06/16/03: The real story behind Hillary's book
06/09/03:America's new mission was and remains: Extirpating the flaming nutballs and the societies that nurture them
06/03/03: The Constitution as gag order
05/23/03: Sometimes the theme of world events is chaos itself
05/16/03: Newspapers are only human, after all
05/13/03: What McCarthy messed up
05/06/03: Still think the International Criminal Court was a good idea?
04/03/03: The world is ending, the world is ending! Doesn't anybody care!? Why won't anybody listen!?
03/14/03: Kerry and the Dems are banking on American electorate's tendancy to forget history
02/28/03: Roadmap to peace?
02/13/03: We live in an age where the poet has been cast out from the halls of power --- sob, sob
02/10/03: Found: League for International Justice and Peace talking points
01/30/03: The US can go to war whenever it likes for its own reasons, and all the UN can do is pass more worthless paper
01/23/03: People who'd volunteer for the Iraqi army if they saw Saddam wearing a "Free Mumia" button
01/16/03: One of those head vs. heart things
12/27/02: Whistleblowers?
01/06/02: The second year of this jangled millennium
11/16/01: Attack of the 'Patriotism police' and other Hollywood fare
11/12/01: From the bleats of dismay
10/30/01: Osama and the Genie
10/08/01: "We can stop the Bush Death Juggernaut"
11/04/01: America, loathe or it leave it
09/25/01: Do the Europeans actually think that the war on murderous zealotry will be furthered by undercutting America?
08/27/01: If the economy is in a funk, why aren't we dancing?
08/14/01: Dubyah's embarrassing presidential vacation
08/10/01: Hail to our co-chiefs?
08/03/01: Constitution: George the Uniter picked a doozy to unify detractors
07/25/01: The real reason why we need missile defense (What those uppity policy wonks won't tell you!)
06/18/01: Paining the egalitarian soul
06/01/01: One of the stranger indexes you'll ever hear about
05/21/01: One man's toke is another man's snort
05/08/01: Republicans want poisoned water
04/23/01: We bleat as we're sheared
04/10/01: Boys will be boys. And that's the problem
04/06/01: Pity the anti-American Left, they're gonna have a hard time on this one
03/26/01: You've been warned
03/16/01: The GOP's inexplicable desire to fold
02/23/01: Will the Jeb Bush administration attack Saddam in 2011?
02/09/01: In search of the the first ashtray thrown by a member of the First Family
02/06/01: Can you say 'Ayatollah Bush'?
01/24/01: The new Executive Orders
01/22/01: Hey, Dubya: Wanna save Ashcroft? Teach him to rap!
01/09/01: Bubba gets his last licks
01/05/01: The low-down on the coming recession (What those snooty economists won't tell you)
12/23/00: Memo to Dubya: Wanna show who is boss? Nuke 'em!
12/06/00: The Count of Carthage
At the Sore/Loserman Transition HQ
12/01/00: The Count of Carthage
11/28/00: Clinton knows history isn't written by the victors anymore
11/17/00: Chad's the word
11/08/00: The strangest political night
11/07/00: Get ready to return to the Dark Ages

© 2003, James Lileks