WASHINGTON -- Once again, the Democrats at their quadrennial national convention sweat and heave to achieve the preposterous. And once again they have achieved that weird goal. America, the world's economic marvel is, according to them, on the hem of catastrophe. All that can save us is four more years of the Democrats.
That suggests two questions. Have the Democrats not already had eight years to save us from our alleged misery? And do they not simultaneously claim economic crisis and an economic boom? As I say, the Democrats thrive on the preposterous.
Since 1983, the country has been humming along on the longest and most widely distributed period of economic growth in world history. In early 1992, a brief and shallow slow-down gave way to renewed growth. In the first two years of the Clinton administration, it continued at the cyclically modest rate of 2.3 percent. Then the 1994 Republican Congress came in and markets bloomed, the economy took off and eventually Alan Greenspan went on the alert. Bill Clinton and Al Gore have been patting themselves on the back through it all, congratulating themselves for the Republican Congress' ability to stifle their spendthrift and high-tax impulses.
Now their fellow Democrats have convened another hysterical national convention. So what is the theme of this idiotic assemblage of charlatans, dolts and Hollywood jesters? It is "American Misery," namely poverty (particularly child poverty and women's poverty -- no gay poverty yet), pollution and bigotry of the most imaginative variety. That the Democrats do not even attempt to resolve the contradiction between their wails of misery and Clinton's boasts of economic bliss testifies to how stupendous their hypocrisy has become -- and how they relish the preposterous.
Surely the Boy President's entry into Staples Center the other night was preposterous. As I watched his interminable solitary strut (Tom Wolfe would identify it as a modified "pimp roll") televised through the garishly lit corridors proceeding toward the arena of Staples Center, I thought that at some point he was going to disrobe. Possibly it was the setting, so reminiscent of a prize fighter's entrance. Possibly it was the lewdly pursed lips. Whatever, as he tramped alone up one corridor, down another, a turn to the left, and straight ahead into the delirious crowd, the thought occurred: He is going to unknot his tie and heave it over his shoulder. He is about to unbutton his shirt. His step quickens. The smile radiates from ear to ear ... ecstasy.
Another Democratic convention first! The president, stripped to the waist, is on the podium! He is taking credit for every good bit of news, even the weather report! Actually, he did take credit for every good thing that has taken place during his administration and for some good things that have yet to take place. He took responsibility for it all, except in one category: scandals. Those were the responsibility of that Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy -- called by the wags the "White Ring Conspiracy." Truth be known, they were the one thing he was responsible for. No one forced him to lie, obstruct justice and abuse power.
For years, friends and enemies alike have claimed that Bill Clinton is "an unusually good liar." I have remained a dissenter. After all, a good liar would not gain a reputation for being a liar. A good liar's lies are not detected. This president's lies are a matter of public record. For one set of lies he has actually been cited by a judge and may be indicted. He is only esteemed a good liar by those who do not mind being lied to or who are too doltish to recognize his lies.
Most Americans have come to suspect Bill Clinton of lying every time he opens his mouth. Does that suggest that he's an unusually good liar, or rather a shameless liar with a large audience of credulous followers and a larger audience wise to his ways? Polls of the public's perceptions of Clinton's character suggest that he is a failed liar.
Most Americans recognize that America is prosperous and at peace. Its citizens disapprove of bigotry and meanness. They are increasingly impatient with lies and humbug. The columnist Morton Kondracke tells us that polls indicate that voters would re-elect President George Bush over Gov. Bill Clinton if the 1992 election were run today. I hope he is right, but I do hope the Democrats will continue to yearn for the preposterous. Their conventions are my favorite. I even prefer them to the conventions of the Reform Party.