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Jewish World Review August 23, 2000 /22 Menachem-Av, 5760

Joseph Perkins

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Consumer Reports

Posh bashes by 'party of the people' -- AL GORE sounded almost genuine when he declared himself the candidate that "fights for working families" as opposed to "the wealthy, the well-connected and the powerful."

The Democratic Party platform sounded almost believable when it proclaimed its presidential nominee committed to "breaking the link between special interests and political influence."

That is, of course, unless one happened to attend the Democratic National Convention this week to observe the off-camera goings-on.

Like the ritzy reception at the Rodeo Drive boutique of the Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani. There were no "working families" to speak of among the Democratic invitees, who toasted their gracious host for the $150 gift certificates he bestowed upon them as they passed through the door.

They giggled when Democratic Party chairman Joe Andrew told them not to worry about public perception. "We're the party that's going to get everybody here off the hook," he said, "because we're the party that supports campaign finance reform."

Wink, wink. Nod, nod.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, there was a star-studded soiree at Babs Streisand's oceanfront estate. The 100 "extremely select (and rich) guests," according to the Los Angeles Times, "were expected to contribute as much as $10 million."

So much for the fiction that Democrats are the "party of the people," while Republicans are the "party of the powerful."

Indeed, the dirty little secret that the party of Gore went to painstaking lengths to hide from the "working families" watching their convention on television is that the four-day spectacle was bought and paid for by the corporate and wealthy interests that the Democrats hypocritically decry.

This fact was not lost upon at least one conscientious Democratic objector, Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (whose campaign finance reform bill the party platform actually endorses). "What do we see when we come here to L.A?" he asked. "Corporate names emblazoned in gigantic letters across the very building where (our) nominee will be chosen.

"Corporate-sponsored parties, corporate-sponsored concerts, corporate-sponsored golf tournaments, corporate-sponsored wine tastings, corporate-sponsored yacht cruises, corporate-sponsored shopping excursions, and of course, in between, the corporate-sponsored breakfasts, lunches and dinners."

The Democrats try to rationalize their corporate buck-raking ($120 million in soft money, and counting) by piously declaring that, unlike the unholy Republicans, the party of Gore and Lieberman is discriminating in choosing the corporate soft money it accepts.

Airlines are fine (including convention donor United, which is currently embroiled in a bitter dispute with its pilots' union). Telecommunications companies are OK (like Verizon, which is currently battling its rank and file).

And utilities are also all right (including Sempra Energy, which has more than doubled the monthly electricity bills of "working families" in San Diego and other Southern California municipalities in just the past year).

But no way would Democrats defile themselves with money from such corporate interests as, say, oil and tobacco. There are certain lines the party of Gore and Lieberman simply would not cross.

Or wouldn't they?

In fact, some 300 Democrats, including more than a few senators, attended a reception this week at the Armand Hammer Museum hosted by Occidental Petroleum. It so happens that party presidential nominee Gore is executor of a family trust fund that holds Occidental stock worth as much as $1 million.

Meanwhile, cigarette maker Philip Morris hosted a slew of parties at the Democratic convention, including a reception for Democratic governors, a luncheon for Democratic state legislators and separate wing-dings for Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and Rep. Martin Frost, the third-ranking House Democrat.

The Democrats have some explaining to do to the American people. How can they claim to be fighting for working families when they just spent four days in Los Angeles eating the food and drinking the liquor of the wealthy, the well-connected and the powerful?

JWR periodic contributor Joseph Perkins is San Diego Union-Tribune columnist and a television commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


08/01/00: Liberal media spinning convention
05/18/00: The biggest threat to children
05/11/00: AlGore should keep silent if he doesn't have the facts
04/28/00: The people won't forget
03/24/00: You don't need to be paranoid to be wary of the census
03/24/00: Gotcha! Treasury Dept. spills the beans about Bubba's bull
03/16/00: Al Gore's glaring hypocrisy
03/07/00: John McCain is a fraud
02/17/00: The only thing that will rein in NFL criminals is negative public opinion
01/27/00: Linking marriage and the income gap
01/12/00: Black blind obedience
12/21/99: Tripp's courage was punished
12/09/99: Politics gets in the way of food
12/02/99: Washington isn't speaking English
10/14/99: Using sexual harassment as a weapon
10/04/99: What about victims' rights?
09/17/99: Feel like you're being watched?
09/02/99: Our air traffic system is out of control
08/26/99: We need another Manhattan Project
08/13/99: Tempest in the PETA pot
08/05/99: Utilizing junk science for big payoffs

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