The Elephant in the Democrats' Living Room

All they did for a week was beat around the Bush

Wait, wait, wait! Democratic conventioneers! You forgot your "regime change" materials—you know, the topic you didn't really feel like discussing openly. It's difficult for the rest of the country to know exactly what you want—and how much you think a new regime is needed—if you're not willing to at least express some frustration and anger and tell us why.

Here are a couple of people who are willing to share. Let's start with Al Sharpton's Wednesday night speech, for which he was chided for talking too long. He probably should have talked longer—and right after Barack Obama's stirring speech Tuesday night. Maybe the two of them together would have generated enough heat to at least bring you delegates up to a simmer. Some excerpts from Sharpton:

  • "The issue of government is not to determine who may sleep together in the bedroom. It's to help those that might not be eating in the kitchen."

  • "The promise of America [is] that we stand for human rights, whether it's fighting against slavery in the Sudan, . . . AIDS in Lesotho, [or] police misconduct in this country."

  • "I suggest to you tonight that if George Bush had selected the [Supreme Court] in '54, Clarence Thomas would have never got to law school."

  • "How did we squander this opportunity to unite the world for democracy and to commit to a global fight against hunger and disease? We did it with a go-it-alone foreign policy based on flawed intelligence. We were told that we were going to Iraq because there were weapons of mass destruction. We've lost hundreds of soldiers. We've spent $200 billion at a time when we had record state deficits. And when it became clear that there were no weapons, they changed the premise for the war and said: 'No, we went because of other reasons.' "

  • "At a time when a vicious spirit in the body politic of this country attempts to undermine America's freedoms—our civil rights and civil liberties—we must leave this city and go forth and organize this nation for victory for our party and John Kerry and John Edwards in November. And let me quickly say, this is not just about winning an election. It's about preserving the principles on which this very nation was founded."

  • "Look at the current view of our nation worldwide as a result of our unilateral foreign policy. We went from unprecedented international support and solidarity on September 12, 2001, to hostility and hatred as we stand here tonight. We can't survive in the world by ourselves."

    And for a review of the unreality show you delegates just participated in, here's how Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales broke down your broken-down performance (along with that of the media people who covered you), under the headline "Too Nice for Their Own—and Our—Good":

  • "The bland and platitudinous nature of the [Edwards] speech only served to support the widely held view that political conventions have become anachronisms."

  • "The Democrats' namby-pamby decision to go positive—not to attack the arguably very, very vulnerable administration of George W. Bush—has put a pall of niceness over the proceedings that, try as they might, cranky-minded TV commentators haven't done much to dispel."

  • "A little hard-core, down-and-dirty political colloquy would seem more than appropriate for a time in which Americans are threatened by international terrorism on one side and economic woes on the other."

  • "A viewer could have come away from the [Edwards] speech with the impression that Edwards was saying 'a Kerry-Edwards administration will be even better than Bush-Cheney' rather than 'the current administration has got to go.' He didn't offer enough motivation for changing leadership in the middle of an apparently intractable war."

  • "Before the [Edwards] speech, Democrats and broadcasters were all aghast that the convention's scheduled hour of prime-time coverage might run over (the horror!) because the irascible Al Sharpton got tired of his scripted speech and departed from it for several minutes, stretching out his time. You'd have thought he'd slapped the queen, to quote Liz Smith. Everyone ran around in apoplexy at this hubris—even the network newsniks who'd done nothing but complain about the convention being too planned and scripted."

  • "Surprisingly, Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly did not manage to be the most ridiculous of that crew last night. Chris Matthews, getting a trifle desperate over on MSNBC, sank to an absurd new low when he hauled in actor Steve Buscemi, who seemed to be visiting the convention on a whim, and asked if he wasn't outraged at seeing Sharpton because Sharpton 'built his career lying about cops.' How's that again? Buscemi looked mystified, and no wonder. Even Matthews began to look mystified, as if an evil gremlin had popped out of his stomach and started asking nonsensically contentious questions."

  • "Katie Couric told viewers of yesterday's Today show on NBC that Illinois legislator Barack Obama had 'electrified' the crowd with his stunningly eloquent speech Tuesday night. Too bad NBC refused to show it. Too bad profit-mad NBC-Universal was determined to air its lame reality shows and sitcom reruns instead. And then Couric tells us we really should've been there. The networks are just plain nuts."

    OK, go home, conventioneers. You too, Couric. Go on, get outta here.


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