BOSTON - When Homer Simpson ran for the office of sanitation commissioner, he offered this stirring call to arms: "Animals are crapping in our houses and we're picking it up. Did we lose a war? That's not America!" The crowd went wild and Homer won the race.
After the first night of speeches here at the Democratic Convention, it's pretty clear the Democrats are borrowing from Homer's playbook. Here's the drill: State the obvious as if it is insightful. Then twist it to make it sound like the Republicans are fools or ogres for not seeing the wisdom in what you're saying.
"The Republicans in Washington believe that America should be run by the right people - their people," Bill Clinton declared to thunderous applause here Monday night.
What in the world is he talking about? This is an election, right? The Republicans think Republicans should run things. Democrats think Democrats should. Is there something I'm missing? Are Republicans somehow "cheating" because their campaign platform suggests that their own party is the right one to run America?
This was one of the many ironies, alas, lost on the Democrats.
So, too, was the rather rum spectacle of Jimmy Carter lecturing about the need to "restore the greatness of America" and gird American strength around the globe. Then again, maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps on the morning of September 11, 2001, millions cried in anguish, "If only Jimmy Carter were president!"
Aside from his shockingly gratuitous and unpresidential cheap shots about Bush's military service - wasn't it Carter who pardoned all those honest-to-God draft-dodgers? - what stood out in Carter's oration was his tendency to attribute so many of the world's longest-running and most intractable problems to George W. Bush. "Violence has gripped the Holy Land," Carter intoned. Talk about walking into the movie half way through. Violence has gripped the Holy land for a very, very long time. In fact, bears have been using the woods as a bathroom since George Bush has been president, too. That's not exactly George W. Bush's fault. (Indeed, the worst flare-up of violence occurred after Bill Clinton failed to seal a peace deal in 2000 between Yassir Arafat and Ehud Barak.)
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