During the political conventions, we were swamped with a lot of punditry about stagecraft, statistics, polls and politics. We heard over and over again about appeals to this or that constituency.
Did that one satisfy small-business men? Did Joe Biden fix Barack Obama's problem with Catholics? Did Sarah Palin, the lipsticked pit bull, peel off Hillaryites from the Democratic fold? And who is speaking for the indispensable left-handed Samoans living on fixed incomes in the increasingly gay suburbs around Cleveland?
Well, here's a crazy thought: Maybe the Democrats and Republicans actually believe what they said and said what they believe. Perhaps the multiday infomercials put on in St. Paul and Denver should be seen for what the producers wanted them to be: a vision statement. And if that's the case, then the old saw about how there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties can only be true if we're talking about one really big dime. Perhaps the chief thematic difference between the two parties last week is this: One party is for losers and the other for winners. Now, I don't mean that Democrats are losers in the sense that they never got picked for softball, went to the prom with their favorite aunt or uncle, or any of that sort of thing. After all, the Democratic Party has almost cornered the market on the beautiful people and the hipsters. Heck, Rolling Stone has essentially become the house organ of the Democratic National Committee, and MTV serves as the Democrats' main youth outreach program. Rather, the Democrats cast themselves as the party for the losers in society, those who've been left behind, hurt, left homeless, literally or figuratively, by the gales of the supposedly cruel free market.
And, of course, that speaks well of them (whatever the merits of their policies may be). But after four nights of relentless hype about America's misery, the average viewer of the Democratic convention could be forgiven for thinking it was being held in Pyongyang, North Korea, instead of Denver. In the Democrats' America, it sounds as if we're all living off tree bark.
Vice presidential nominee Biden ad-libbed a line about how when he looked out the window of his Amtrak train at night, he could see the "flickering lights" of families huddled around their tables trying to figure out how to make ends meet. Apparently, the electric light bulb hasn't reached Delaware.