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Jewish World Review Sept. 27, 2002 / 21 Tishrei, 5763

Tom Purcell

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Consumer Reports

Conservatives, Liberals, Dick Armey and Barry Manilow | It sounded harsh when Dick Armey said it, but maybe he has a point.

During a campaign stop in Florida for congressional candidate Katherine Harris, the Republican House Majority Leader was asked why many in the Jewish community are switching their support to the Republican Party. He said the reason is there are two Jewish communities in America: one of deep intellect (conservatives) and one of a shallow, superficial intellect (liberals).

Well, Armey's bluntness caused an outcry. Some said his comments demeaned Jews. So the following day he clarified his position. He said he wasn't talking about the Jewish community in particular but liberals and conservatives in general.

"Liberals are, in my estimation, just not bright people," he said. "Conservatives have a deeper intellect and tend to have occupations of the brain in fields like engineering, science and economics, while liberals flock to occupations of the heart."

In other words, conservatives think things through logically, whereas liberals tend to react to their emotions. Even if you find Armey's classification simplistic, you have to admit there is some truth to it. In a general sense, conservative Republicans tend to be businessmen and engineers, who are interested in generating results. But the liberal wing of the Democratic Party tends to include actors, artists and others in the touchy-feely fields, who use every public appearance to espouse their emotionally charged opinions.

Now I know that such stereotyping and generalizing is a dangerous business. There are surely some engineers and businessmen who are liberal Democrats and some actors who are hardcore conservatives. Heck, I'm a writer, an "occupation of the heart" fellow, and I am a conservative (mostly). Still, Armey's blunt generalizations are onto something.

Consider this: Congressional Democrats are holding a fundraiser this Sunday in Hollywood, and who did they select as one of the lead performers? Barry Manilow.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, Barry Manilow, the poster boy for "occupations of the heart." His icky-sweet songs tug at the emotions with the deftness of a meat hook. Manilow's emotional pandering is loved by most women and despised by EVERY man. So it's telling that Democrats would use him as a draw to an event that seeks donations of $500 to $5,000 a plate.

See, when Republicans have fundraisers, they bring in celebrities that the Republican philosophy. Guys like Arnie Schwarzenegger (Conan the Republican), who plays decisive tough guys on the screen. And guys like Bruce Willis, who plays street-smart guys who don't take guff from terrorists. If they do have a music venue, it's usually somebody like Charlie Daniels, who sings about American patriotism and how we're going to dismember them there fellows who mean us harm.

But Barry Manilow?

Even if Manilow was a Republican - try to work with me here - no right-thinking GOP organizer would ever book him at a fundraiser. That would be a disaster. As soon as he'd utter "I write the words that make the whole world sing, I write the songs of love and special things..." a contingent of tough guys, led by somebody like Gen. Stormin Norman Schwarzkopf, would remove him from the stage faster than you can say Al Qaeda.

But Manilow is a perfect reflection of what the liberal Democrat wing is all about. While conservative Republicans can't get far enough away from the gooey tripe that Manilow sings, liberal Democrats are on the other side of the planet. They're down at the Copa... Copacabana, the hottest spot north of Havana...

That's why I feel sorry for Democrats these days. Ever since 911, tough guys, decisiveness and straight talk are in and touchy-feely, political pandering and mealy mouthing is out. (Al Gore must not have got the memo.) And while the president is saying loud and clear what his ambitious strategy is to prevent terrorism, the liberal wing of the Democratic party can't laugh and can't sing and they're finding it hard to do anything.

So, my liberal Democrat friends, it appears that Dick Armey is onto something about you being led by your emotions as opposed to your noggins. Right now, the logical thinkers are in charge and that is mostly a good thing. Heck, had Al Gore been president, we'd still be doing the two-step with the Taliban.

And we'd be doing the dance to a Barry Manilow tune.

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09/20/02: Are SUV drivers are the new GOPers?
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09/06/02: The Freedom to Picnic
08/16/02: Ah, the $izzle of anti-terrorist pork
08/09/02: Vacationless prez and gutless Americans
07/26/02: Study gives women permission not to hide their emotions
07/15/02: Patriot food
06/28/02: Eavesdropping on a San Fran classroom
06/21/02: The crowded skies
06/14/02: Contemporary Father's Day: A conversation for the ages
06/07/02: Legal rights for animals?
05/19/02: Advice for prom goers this year: Hold onto your money
05/10/02: Don't take her for granted
05/03/02: Letter to the parents of a tubby teen
04/26/02: Zacarias Moussaoui gets expert legal advice

© 2002, Tom Purcell