Here it is 2008, and everything else is old news. The provisional and absentee ballots, recounts, scores, and statistics of 2000-2007 are all in the history books, along with Afghan and Iraqi elections and constitutions, insurgencies, hurricanes, disgraced mayors and governors, and Supreme Court, lobbying, earmark, wiretapping, and energy and cartoon ruckuses. Since Barack Obama is talking “change,” everything else must be passé, right?
Wrong! In the Democratic Party and the foggy, insular world of paranoia that is today’s left, the boogaloo beat of the jungle tom-toms goes on night and day, just as Cole Porter predicted. Even now, in control of Congress but still intellectually and ethically bankrupt, lacking the sense God gave common garden varmints, and twitching with lunacy and hysteria, these Democratic Party animals are right up front about smashing up everything in sight in a frenzy of indignation and rage. Always dangerous to the country, they will never simply disappear; Barack Obama may preach the righteousness of change, but, to paraphrase military historian Ralph Peters, liberals—barely 20 percent of the electorate—will try to pass cowardice, stupidity, and spitefulness off as progress, virtue, and wisdom. Extol American penance to curry favor with foolish and resentful international elites, push through $3.5 trillion in new spending and tax increases in the name of fairness, expand government intrusion into healthcare, do away with the Electoral College to reduce the vote to the liberal coasts, sponsor divisive race-based programs, deprive workers of secret-ballot protection in union votes—the same old liberal same old.
These upcoming attempts at disorder, presented as “change,” will instead be variations on shopworn reality-free, responsibility-free themes. The 2004 and 2006 elections merely illustrate the long-running spectacle of these unquiet souls trying to pass themselves off as centrists who reflect the true feelings of the country, rather than raffish malcontents and nutters with bad manners, bad attitudes, bad haircuts, and really terrible ideas about the Constitution, religion, history, economics, race, culture, the environment, and personal hygiene. Like fifth-rate vaudevillians auditioning for American Idol, they bring their tired gags and cheap parlor tricks with them—the overwrought metaphors and exaggerations, the slurs and character assassination, the conspiracy theories and baggy-pants buffoonery—and make use of every type of fellow traveler they can find, but the basic repertoire barely changes at all. And we can’t count on Simon Cowell to harry them off-stage.
In the 2004 and 2006 campaigns we saw the standard offense of Democratic Party regulars backed by the always colorful Angry Left who, riled up and self-righteous, historically ignorant and anti-American as ever, actually wish death to those who don’t agree with them—the President, Charlton Heston, Jesse Helms, Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, Newt Gingrich, and the Pope included. Eager to appear up to date, they quickly replaced the late John Paul II in their Top Ten target list with Pope Benedict XVI, citing his brief compulsory membership in the Hitler Youth over 60 years ago as proof that he is Martin Bormann in a clerical collar. They haven’t yet come up with someone to slot in for the late Heston or Helms, but they will—this is their program, and they’re devoted to it.
High priests of intolerance strung out on the rancid pheromones of resentment and hatred, they rant against conservatives, the Founding Fathers, people of religious faith, the nuclear family, straight white males, Southerners, Republicans, anyone connected with law enforcement or the military, conventional marriage, patriotism, and of course the American public, who they always feel are too stupid to see things their way—and that’s the short list. Yet the American public figured out early on that the wiretapping of potential terrorist communiqués had not “chilled” free speech or “eroded” civil liberties, let alone “shredded” the Constitution, although they may have been puzzled by John Kerry’s threats to sue any bookstore carrying John O’Neill’s Unfit for Command. Those paying close attention may also raise an eyebrow at the likes of Carl Levin, Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Teddy the K, all in full blast over the alleged lies about Saddam Hussein’s WMD capabilities that they themselves warned about as far back as the mid-1990’s.
People like the Hillaryfolk, the Kerryfolk, the Teddyfolk, and the ACLU may go through the motions of urging compassion for their fellow world citizens, but their native extremism always surfaces, and they end up on the bandstand with corrupt, well-heeled megalomaniacs such as George Soros and slovenly demagogues like Michael Moore or trading quips with covens of hostile activist crazies such as the unmuzzled wolverines at MoveOn.org and the Huffington Post. Soros has styled himself the conscience of the world, but there’s little indication that the world wants anything but his money. Just show us the bucks, Gyorgy, then get lost. Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 charmed the pseudosophisticates of the Hate America First contingent back in the day, but an array of legitimate journalists, pundits, and well-informed bloggers in drop-seat pajamas quickly ran off an annotated list of dozens of trademark Moore distortions and outright falsehoods while the cinéaste noisily threatened to sue anyone who contradicted him. In 2004 Kerry boasted that many foreigners supported his candidacy, and today the media are queasy with anticipation that an Obama coronation will include legions of German and Serbian barmen, French swineherds, and Belgian fondue chefs to provide the multicultural glow so prized by American elites. Obama is already claiming that America needs to be “rehabilitated” in the eyes of the world of nuance and seems to think that if only he, his resentful wife, and such great brains as Steven Spielberg go out to schmooze Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il, Chavez, and the grifters at the United Nations, all will be well with the planet again. Such righteous indignation, which Marshall McLuhan once called a “standard strategy for endowing the idiot with dignity,” is always important to liberals, so it is natural for them to quote from such smug media scribblers as Maureen Dowd, Gail Sheehy, and Frank Rich about how President Bush is stupid and dyslexic or that conservatives only care about corporate interests, and that our allies in Iraq are “puppets.”
Another of their long-standing favorites is class warfare, an old chestnut that doesn’t play well these days. When John Edwards went out on his “Two Americas” pep-rally tour during the 2004 campaign, the public, perhaps wise to the fact that the “tax cuts for the rich” helped most of them as well, were too smart to buy the corny routine. But that doesn’t mean liberals have taken it out of the band book. And, as the Duke Ellington Orchestra has used “Take the ‘A’ Train” as its theme since 1941, the singing-donkey contingent always brings out the race card as one of their patented golden oldies, with Julian Bond, Jesse Jackson, and a retinue of seedy, paranoid grievancemongers now denouncing Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Michael Steele, Ward Connerly, and other black Republicans as “house slaves,” “tame niggers,” “black tyrants,” and “traitors to their race.” Bond has claimed that the Republican Party wants to see the Stars and Stripes and Nazi swastika hanging side by side, and Obama has hinted that the Republicans will somehow sandbag him with racial “code” words.
When nonsense like this backfires, liberals move quickly to the next logical step: In 2004 they lined up willing faux-intellectual nitwits from the “arts” community, provided them with a variety of carbonated beverages, and applauded wildly as they behaved like fools in public. Shrill, irrational, and childish, the artsters are always good for a laugh: the simpleminded Wallace Shawn whining about how “scary” Bush was; Arthur Miller recycling his exhausted “return of McCarthyism” shtick; Norman Mailer and hydrophobic foreigners such as Harold Pinter and Margaret Drabble bemoaning the approach of fascism and doom. Next, as day follows night, they solicited the entertainment industry for fuddled has-beens like Jessica Lange and bratty vulgarians like Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, and Whoopi Goldberg, with their quaint vocabularies, finely tuned knowledge of public affairs, and warnings that fascism and doom are even closer than we thought. They borrowed from asinine observations by such policy elites as Madeleine Albright, suspicious that Osama bin Laden had been nabbed at a Pink Floyd concert in Bratislava and was being held incommunicado in the visitors’ locker room at Washington’s RFK Stadium, to be brought out as an “October Surprise” the weekend before the election. This year Obama, with Albright as one of his backup singers, is already treating us to his observations on how Bin Laden, when caught, should be given the full benefits of our criminal-justice system like any common street felon.
Eight weeks from the 2004 election, the Democrats reached deep into the equipment bag, brought in special-guest attack-Rottweilers James Carville and Paul Begala to run with housebroken journalists Seymour Hersh, Kitty Kelley, and Paul Krugman, and docile talking heads Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Matt Lauer, and threw their trademark Hail Mary character-assassination bomb. That time around it was a zany but transparent play featuring forged documents and a litany of absurd charges about Bush’s National Guard absenteeism and the First Lady’s activities as a college drug kingpin. Once again, no success, and the haughty John Kerry switched to the paranoia offense, dropping hints about the President’s “secret plans,” devious though nonexistent plots to restore the military draft, gut Social Security and education spending, bankrupt farmers, perhaps confiscate the homes of minorities and use the proceeds to award free sports franchises to cronies. At the same time the senator referred grandly to his own plans for Iraq, healthcare, the economy, the rebuilding of alliances, and a hat he allegedly still had from years earlier. In Kerry’s case the comments (except for the bit about the hat) were vague platitudes oddly similar to Obama’s, better to be explained only after his own coronation as president through litigation—none of this general-election “count every vote” tedium for him; people might question those traditional waves of last-minute phantom Democrat voters, their numbers far exceeding available census and registration figures, popping up in urban centers such as St. Louis, Philadelphia, Seattle, Milwaukee, and Cleveland.
It isn’t clear how Obama will claim that the United Nations is the obvious choice to heal the world, with billions missing through fraud and accounting scams and most of the governments now in place in Europe firmly in America’s corner. France’s Nicolas Sarkozy isn’t likely to repeat former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin’s bizarre comment that the Iraqi terrorist insurgents are France’s “allies,” and even the European Union is looking more soberly at the antics of Iran’s mullahs. Yet the besotted media have already gushed about Obama’s world-class intellect and speaking skills, as they did with Gore and Kerry, touting him as a direct descendant of Cicero with touches of Churchill, JFK, and even Bill Cosby thrown in. True, Obama isn’t likely to turn up for a debate as Kerry did with his face tinted the color of a Syracuse Orangemen mascot, but we can expect the freshly manicured index finger pointed skyward in philosopher-prince attitude and mellifluous comments about “bringing the rest of the world in” on foreign-policy initiatives while bad-mouthing everyone else, including some four-dozen national allies already on board, as blunderers, amateurs, and dupes. Change? Not bloody likely: Bill Clinton tried this back in 1992, and it was already as stale as a marijuana brownie baked by Abbie Hoffman.
Obama is sure to prowl this year’s battleground states of Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, and Pennsylvania, sneering at the Bush tax cuts, playing the race card with gusto, and trying to present himself, cultural icon and owner of a million-dollar home thanks to his association with a convicted felon, as just a regular guy with a heart full of love for the simple man and a mission to get even with big business for everyone’s benefit. The left loves to pin the donkey’s tail of evil on entire industries, and this tactic will represent at least six of the ten tunes of Obama’s first set, with broadsides against pharmaceuticals, finance companies, defense contractors, oil and gas companies, and any others who might get in the way of the left’s soft Marxism of change.
When time begins running short during October, the liberal Democratic team will perpetrate a series of madcap incidents aimed at the voters whose common sense they always hold in such contempt. When paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve died in 2004, John Edwards made the preposterous assertion that if he and Kerry were elected the advances in stem-cell research would enable people like Reeve to “get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.”
We cannot know if Michael Moore will once again troll the countryside trying to bribe voters with free noodles and underwear of undetermined origin, but liberal commentators and campaign advisors are sure to recommend that terrorists be treated as a mere “nuisance,” like the hooker scandal that brought down New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer or scalpers in hooded sweatshirts out behind the Santa Fe Hippodrome hawking their tasteful selections of counterfeit Metallica tickets and leftover press passes to the 1975 Ali-Frazier “Thrilla in Manila.” That approach worked like a bandit during the 1990’s, didn’t it?
Liberals enjoy trying to pass themselves off as sportsmen and almost always end up embarrassing themselves. During the 2004 campaign John Kerry appeared in a series of snappy dirt-biking and windsurfing outfits, and finally in a camouflage goose-hunting getup that might yet rank as a classic, an image as eternally embarrassing as Michael Dukakis in a tanker’s helmet or Jimmy Carter, delirious in the heat, staggering along Massachusetts Avenue in jogging shorts. Obama has already pretended to bowl in a white Oxford dress shirt and tie, and who knows what other pranks he has up his sleeve for the ESPN saloon audience. Elk hunting? Dominoes with the oldsters? Donatella Versace has dedicated her new line to Obama, so we might see what the left of tomorrow, with its enthusiasm for bogus change but limited fashion sense, will be wearing for sporty occasions, win, lose, or draw. Here is Obama in loungewear at the Brandenburg Gate; here is Obama togged out in soccerwear at the Tehran soccer stadium; here is Obama in winterwear counseling the caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Remember the 2004 campaign’s final days, as Democratic Party hustlers fanned out across the country in their customary last-minute drive to register every illegal immigrant, crackhead, fourth grader, and Dutch Decoy Spaniel they could find, many of them more than once, as part of their “Steal Every Vote” series of plays? Once again their lawyers will set up camp in battleground states, hoping to litigate another attempted election-snatch as other handlers look, panic-stricken, up and down their own sideline for anyone who might invent a last-second scandal, design a trick play—anything to wrest the game outright as the clock runs down. Four years ago, even a pre-Halloween taped appearance by Osama bin Laden himself, still sore about Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, failed to sway the American electorate.
“The Book of Wrath,” a long-forbidden 12th-century pamphlet composed by disgruntled Benedictine monks at the Austrian abbey of Melk, contains a maxim suggesting that “a dog howls only when wet unless he’s cranky to begin with.” After eight years in the wilderness, the Democratic Party and their Angry Left supporters are very, very cranky. The four more years granted the Bush administration in 2004 were quickly transposed into a long Howard Dean-inspired howl of recrimination programmed to last for a decade at the very least. The neuroticos of the intellectual community will continue their gyrations of contrived hysteria that the election of Republicans will mean, as one obscure novelist put it four years ago, “the end of life as we know it”—state of emergency, loss of their freedom of speech, denial of foundation grants to fund their frivolous projects—the sore loser’s dark night of paranoia. Actor Martin Sheen, who thinks he’s president and had a TV show to prove it, is perpetually beside himself. Art critic Simon Schama, novelist Jane Smiley, historian Garry Wills, literary critic James Atlas, and troubadours Maggie Gyllenhaal and Richard Dreyfuss, all nearly homicidal with rage, have been a few of those weighing in with delusional prophecies about the coming secession of blue states and civil war, blacklisting, roundups of Jews, and imposition of martial law and a bluenose theocracy. Thanks for reviving memories of Kristallnacht for everyone’s benefit, but when word begins leaking out that some Democratic insiders and show-biz and literary folk are now voting Republican, the fur will really fly. Even now there may be a call in to Randy Newman to produce the catchy new tune “Short Losers.”
People like this, trapped in their fantasy world of self-righteousness, will pride themselves on continuing to “fight,” of course. But they are the intellectual equivalent of Don Rickles’ joke that the cobra is actually a garter snake with dewlaps. These are the posturers who, euphoric after private audiences with Fidel Castro, praised his wisdom and humanity, and who for years pretended that Yasser Arafat was a whirling dervish of good intentions. In their hatred of America they go through the motions of lamenting the nation’s alleged international isolation while secretly reveling in it. With their utopian fools’ paradise of enforced quotas and diversity, speech codes, unrestricted immigration, and intellectual elitism now under attack, they will turn their energies into a soothing, therapeutic program of rage directed at their growing list of designated bogeymen.
Unfortunately for them, it will never be enough. Mocha lattes clutched in grimy paws, quoting Obama’s empty clichés about economics, Iran, and Iraq, they will hyperventilate against American prominence, the Boy Scouts, anything resembling a Christmas ornament, drilling for oil, smoking, drinking, driving, logging, homeschooling, spelling bees, beauty pageants, ROTC, sports teams with American Indian nicknames, pet turtles, dodgeball, beef and pork, prunes—the constipated self-indulgence of a hundred fashionable pet peeves, many identical to those offensive to Muslims. Pretensions to the moral high ground reduced to ashes decades ago, the left will still search for inventive new ways to denounce conservatives as fascist squares and xenophobes and demand that U.N. functionaries—wizards in the disciplines of sexual racketeering and financial scams but clueless about genuine crises in Zimbabwe, the Sudan, Iran, Georgia, and Burma—be appointed to run the world.
For today’s faux intellectuals, anything they dislike is a conspiracy, a trick, a racket. So as the economy improves they will denounce the rich; if it falters, they will blame conservatives. Most fun of all, everything will be everyone else’s fault. They will agitate for repeal of the Electoral College, praise Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s enthusiasm for using other countries’ laws in our own court cases, call again for U.N. monitoring of our elections. They will predict disaster in North Korea or Iran or the Middle East, and if things go sour they will do a lock-step version of the Bavarian dirndl dance of delight. They will blame the Islamic attacks, bombings, and riots in New York, London, Madrid, Paris, Bali, Copenhagen, and elsewhere on poverty and other “root causes,” and as the European Union unravels, led by the Irish, Czechs, Poles, and Dutch, they will claim to be appalled at the backwardness and ungratefulness of the European public. Desperate for another “inaccurate-but-still-true” story after the Koran-in-the-commode and other scoops wound up in the commode where they belonged, Newsweek, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and others will go undercover to report on abuses in Harvard University’s brand-new diversity drive, claiming underrepresentation of hermaphroditic Samoan ventriloquism majors on campus.
The “Dissent is Patriotic” buttons are mostly gone now, replaced on the lapels of the self-anointed by other badges of trendy exhibitionism such as the “We are the Ones We Need” or “Change We Can Believe In” pins worn by cocooned professors and clueless 18-year-old kooks with adhesive tape on their eyeglasses. But for Obama there will always be acolytes in media and academic madrassas locked in to the elitist group-think attitude that the public is too bitter and intellectually backward to be trusted with rational decisions. In 2004 John Kerry tried to pass himself off as a public-policy intellectual, pandering to such vindictive leftist neurotics as Ralph Neas of People for the American Way, Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice, and Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, delivering meandering, contradictory statements on abortion, foreign policy, and his youthful nighttime sorties along the rivers of Cambodia, across the Khyber Pass, and into the cerveza joints of New York’s South Bronx. This year Hillary Clinton, still jumpy after her near escape from snipers in Bosnia, was forced to pass the grubby baton of change along to Obama to do the grip-and-grovel routine in front of preening international fools and frauds desperate to appear relevant. It isn’t yet known if George Soros will shovel $30 million his way, and Diddy and Snoop Dogg have been distracted by assault indictments, but others will hand over their dollars for the change that isn’t change.
So the Angry Left’s boogaloo beat will go on, a cacophony of played-out repertoire, wrong notes, and flagging rhythm, with the Clintons, Kerry, Warren Christopher, Joe Biden, and other failed notables scrambling for featured guest solo opportunities.
Leftist weirdness. Intellectual pretentiousness and pettifoggery. Feel-good progressive drivel. Stupidity. Intolerance. Abuse. Slander. Race-baiting and demagoguery. Threats of secession. Delusion. Hysteria. Paranoia. Madness. Free Mumia, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Al Gore, and the polar bears, too, while we’re at it. Great stuff, no? Look for it all on radio and TV and at upcoming concert and theatrical performances, academic conferences, protest marches, neighborhood block parties, and stadium appearances. No lifeguard on duty and, if they get their way, no photo ID needed. Change doesn’t get any better than this. Let every vote count and all that. The left may think that all the rest of us are the biggest fools, to paraphrase singer Arthur Prysock, and that their faux change is wondrous, but if Susan Sarandon, George Clooney, and Noam Chomsky take their carbon footprints abroad in protest, so much the better. Now there’s change we can believe in.