WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Now this is progress for you and all brought to a grateful nation by the political party that considers progress its specialty. If the pollsters are to be believed, the public-spirited citizenry of Iowa and New Hampshire are about to give the Democratic Party its presidential candidate for 2004. At least that handful of Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire willing to trudge to their caucuses or voting booths is going to decide the nominee.
I have no doubt that these worthy citizens have a deep knowledge of the art and science of politics. Yet as mistrustful as the Democratic spellbinders heading the party have been lo these many years of "special interests" and other "elites," it is somewhat surprising that they now acquiesce so meekly in handing their party's nominating process over to a small group of party stalwarts in the Hawkeye and Granite states.
Where are the blacks? Where are the Latinos? What about the gays? These are the suffering situations for whom the Democratic Party has such famous solicitude. All are shockingly underrepresented in the aforementioned Democratic precincts.
After two generations of haranguing the "smoke filled room," the "party bosses," the "state organization" and almost anyone with any brains about political organization, the Democrats have so reformed their nominating process that, to coin a phrase, "As Iowa and New Hampshire Go, So Goes the Democratic Party." I suggest the Democratic National Committee move its headquarters this year from Washington to Des Moines, next year to Manchester, and then back to Des Moines or perhaps to Cedar Rapids.
And behold the field now competing in those idyllic purlieus. The apparent frontrunners are Dr. Howard Dean; Gen. Wesley Clark (the party's Wendell Willkie), Sen. John Pierre Kerry (who, lest you forget, served in Vietnam), Sen. John Edwards (who, lest you forget, wore rags until becoming a multimillionaire by lawyering misery) and Gephardt and Lieberman -- the only two candidates who remotely approximate those previous Democratic presidential candidates who actually went on to lead the nation with a semblance of success or dignity.
Democratic politics has become the only socially accepted avenue for public displays of personal wrath. All the leading Democratic candidates are really angry, and they are appealing for the vote of those who are really angry. They have their disagreements, but all agree that urgent measures must be taken to alleviate the dreadful mess George Bush has made of the country. After their united and quite stirring public displays of anger, the Democratic contenders collapse into buffoonery.