Jewish World Review Jan. 14, 2004/20 Teves, 5764
A disillusioned dog ponders the party
You can't say much for January, the
most miserable of the months, but this
one marks the beginning of the end of
the 2004 Democratic primary campaign.
This campaign has gagged every yellow
dog between Charleston and
The Sunday night "debate" in Des
Moines, the last before the Iowa
caucuses Monday, continued the
familiar tank-town vaudeville that began
almost a year ago. Where was the
stagehand with the hook when we
really needed him?
Howard Dean, with no discernible
sawdust on his shoes, displayed no
sign of his promised collision with the
old-time religion. His most memorable
line was addressed to a citizen voter
who wanted to know why he was
picking on President Bush: "Sit down
and shut up." John Kerry, showing up
again without a bloody shirt, reminded
everyone twice (or was it three times?)
that he had seen combat in Vietnam.
John Edwards told us how trial lawyers
aren't really in it for the money but are
driven through their hard lives by an
obsession to help the poor, the lame,
the halt and any abused widow or
orphan looking for a lawyer. Dick
Gephardt offered still another mea
culpa for sins real or imagined and
invited us to fill in the blanks. Joe
Lieberman continued to beg someone,
anyone, to tell him he's a good person.
Dennis Kucinich did his entirely credible
impression of Dennis the Menace.
Wesley Clark was AWOL. Have we
The Rev. Al Sharpton, as sharp as
ever, trotted out his dog-eared race
card, eager to dance. Nobody gets an
unctuous liberal's number quicker than
a black preacher.
"Can you explain," he asked the
pious Howard Dean, "since ... it seems
as though you've discovered blacks and
browns during the campaign, how can
you explain not one black or brown
working for your administration as
"Well," replied the ex-governor,
"actually, I beg to differ with your
"This is according to your
[news]paper in Vermont, Associated Press, and the Center
for Women in Government."
"Well, perhaps you ought not to believe everything the
Associated Press "
"Oh, so you're saying they're incorrect?"
"We do have African-American and Latino workers in state
government, including "
"No, no, I said under your administration, did you have a
senior member of your Cabinet that was black or brown?"
"We had a senior member of my staff "
"No," insisted Al, the long-suffering schoolmaster making a
show of not losing his patience. "Your Cabinet."
Finally the ex-governor, who ought to know better than to
bandy words with his betters, gave it up. "No," he said,
glumly, "we did not."
This was merely the prelude to Al's impression of Honey
Coles, and he proceeded to tap dance across the prostrate
Dr. Dean. "We must be honest about discrimination, and have
a president what will enforce antidiscrimination laws. ... We
still have institutional discrimination, which is worse than
blatant discrimination." This would have puzzled Al's
granddaddy, but Al was only getting warmed up. "Fifty years
ago we had to watch out for people with white sheets, now
they have on pinstriped suits. ... Our fathers had to fight Jim
Crow, we've got to fight James Crow Jr., Esquire."
Al gave the audience a look that said he, too, knew he was
full of it. But it was great show, and he knew that, too.
Nevertheless, it was too much for Carol Moseley Braun, who
seemed embarrassed by her colleagues' flaccid willingness to
submit meekly to Al's lecture. She was determined that
someone bestow a little dignity on the occasion.
"The fact of the matter is," she said, addressing her gaze
and remarks at the Rev, "you can always blow up a racial
debate and make people mad at each other, but ... this
country cannot afford a racial screaming match we have to
come together as one nation to get past these problems."
The rest of the evening was the usual tame stuff, as the
dwarfs traded tributes to themselves, recycled statistics and
barbs aimed at George W. Bush. The barbs were stale, like
the candidates. The public-opinion polls show the race
tightening, with Howard Dean, the leader for weeks, now in a
virtual tie with Dick Gephardt. Hillary's shot in 2008 looked
It was clearly time for someone to take the campaign out
and shoot it. The campaign, not the disillusioned yellow dog.
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.
Wesley Pruden Archives
© 2004 Wes Pruden