Unless John Kerry pulls off a mask and reveals that he is really a Zorkon from the Galaxian Alliance and we are now his slaves, nothing exciting can be expected from the Democratic convention. (Note to Kerry: If you are a Zorkon, save it until after you're inaugurated.) This means that convention stories follow certain scripts.
The Protester Script. This is the obligatory story of the anarchists who've come to harangue Kerry because he won't use the military to shut down sweatshops and carpet-bomb all Wal-Marts. This year's story will have amusing shots of the giant cage into which the Democrats have herded their protesters, making them all look like zoo monkeys who would throw back your peanuts because they weren't organic.
The Republicans will benefit from the same pack of nutbags, but this time you'll see the leftists the Boston convention has taken pains to hide the BUSHITLER LIED!!! signs, the lovely flags with the Star of David morphing into a swastika. The Michael Moore fans, in other words. The ones who didn't just drink Moore's Kool-Aid but ordered up another gallon for a high colonic.
The Party of Unity and Love Script. It's been decades since a convention's outcome was ever in doubt; now the event is just a giant, bright machine for generating pictures of people in fake straw hats cavorting under an avalanche of balloons.
The unity script, however, is always presented as some remarkable accomplishment. As if the unstoppable tsunami of love for Kerry rolled back Howard Dean's attempts to storm the stage in Boston and YEAGH his way back into America's hearts. Please. Conventions are always united now, given that the alternative is disunity and defeat.
Democrats are truly united behind one man: George W. Bush, whom they hope to push into a moat full of crocodiles. Rabid crocodiles. Rabid crocs who just finished with Ann Coulter and are mad that she was even considered to be a suitable appetizer.
In a way, you'd prefer that the delegates were honest and concluded the convention by dangling Bush in effigy from the rafters. But that could turn off the moderate swing voters who don't follow the news or study the issues. You know, the people who decide elections.
The Party Elders script. They always trot out the party scions to fire up the show. Bill Clinton was Bill Clinton. Al Gore surprised everyone by not blasting gas and napalm for an hour. Jimmy Carter was more in touch with the delegates' mood; he gave a speech suffused with his special brand of tedious sanctimony, noting that "the last few months, in many ways, have been the most disturbing."
Really? Saddam Hussein humbled before a judge, Iraq handed over to Iraqis, courts-martial for the Abu Ghraib morons, a commission report that acknowledges the contacts between Saddam and al-Qaida that's more disturbing than the fall of Iran to Islamic fanatics, the imprisonment of American citizens and the failed attempt to rescue them? Only if you found a neurosurgeon so skilled he could open your skull and remove the portions of your brain holding the memories of 1979 and 1980.
Borrring. So for fun we have the new, unscripted, cannon-on-casters, Teresa Heinz Kerry.
She began the week on a high note, making a speech that called for greater civility, castigating some of the political rhetoric as "un-American." Hmm. A reporter inquired what Ms. Heinz Kerry meant by "un-American," since that's a rather loaded term. True to her rep as the Anti-Laura, the would-be first lady told the reporter to "shove it." How civil.
Not a day later, the Boston Globe unearthed an old interview in which she called the Democratic machine "putrid," spat all over Ted Kennedy and said other uncivil things. No one should be surprised; she's too rich to care what anyone thinks. She's daffy on some occasions and stunningly undiplomatic on others.
A campaign liability? Absolutely. By the end of next week there will be calls for THK to resign, withdraw from the campaign, and sever all ties to the Kerry candidacy.
Would casting off a beloved spouse hurt Kerry with the moderates?
Not if he proposed to John McCain.
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JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.