DENVER -- Never was so much hype created by so few to simulate the appearance of so many.
The hard-core left vowed to turn out 50,000 protesters for the Democratic National Convention this week. They pledged to "Re-create '68" and cause the kind of tear-gas-infused revolutionary havoc that marked the DNC in Chicago four decades ago. Police prepared for the worst riots. Media from around the world anticipated the best pictures.
But when rhetorical push came to real-life shove, the nostalgic, Marx-adoring organizers of Re-create '68 seem to have mustered no more than, oh, 68 bodies. Their presence here is dwarfed by the massive show of police, press and camera-toting looky-loos. You can't take a picture without someone else taking pictures of everyone else taking pictures of not much else getting in your frame.
The chaos-inducers' mouths were a mile wide. Their crowds have been an inch deep. What's left of the leftover '60s movement is all sizzle and no steak. Or veggie burger. Deep-fried tofu. Whatever.
At an abortion protest/counter-protest on Saturday in front of a Planned Parenthood mega-facility, I counted fewer than a dozen pro-abortion activists milling about with three times as many media members. The majority of demonstrators were more exercised about the war in Iraq than about the vaunted woman's right to choose death for her unborn child -- the stated focus of the demonstration.
And while Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean excoriates the Republican Party as the "white" party, I saw only one non-white agitator among the pro-abortion gaggle. (This goes for the rest of the Re-create '68 populace, too. It's as pale and colorless as a Colorado snowfall.) Across the street from the Planned Parenthood event, however, were many incensed black- and brown-skinned moms -- incensed that an abortion mill had been built right across from the park where their children practice football and swing on the playground set.
One of the moms said bluntly: "I don't want a f**king abortion clinic in my neighborhood!" A Hispanic mother added: "It's against the Catholic Church." (Are you listening, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi?) When asked about her views on abortion, a black mother of three told me simply from her minivan: "I don't believe in it."
Speaking of disbelief, behold the dregs of the self-pitying anti-war movement. The white-flag crowd had so much trouble getting coverage of its worn-out, giant puppet-toting, drum-beating, ratty lingerie-flashing, Bush-cursing antics on Sunday that a sympathizer at the Associated Press devoted an entire sob story to the apathy. "CodePink faces tough odds for public's attention," the AP's Christine Simmons mourned. Perhaps if more than 10 of them showed up at one time to do something other than scream about BusHitler or bawl about detained Gitmo jihadists, they'd have better luck.
At Denver's City Center on Monday night, law enforcement authorities encountered about 100 aimless grievance-mongers -- self-described as "anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, anti-war" -- who finally fixed on something concrete to protest when their friends were arrested for refusing to disperse. "My freedom of speech was suppressed," one protester complained as she spoke freely to the media and acknowledged that she hadn't been arrested or asked to show identification.
In the melee, a few responsible adults were accidentally hit with pepper spray. Otherwise, Denver blogger Charlie Martin, who was covering the scene for Pajamas Media, quipped: "It was the world's most boring riot."
Finally, in a sorry attempt to re-create Abbie Hoffman's satirical stunt aimed at levitating the Pentagon, a dozen Re-create '68 stragglers dressed up like the cast of "Harry Potter," wielded magic wands and joined hands to float the Denver Mint. The Mint stayed firmly on the ground. To salvage the abysmal turnout, an unhinged contingent of 9/11 conspiracy theorists started barking at me. One buffoon shouted, "Kill Michelle Malkin," while the levitation experts chanted, "Peace and Justice!" and a wizard paraded around in his "Arrest Bush" T-shirt with Che Guevara promoters tossing fake quarters in the air.
To paraphrase a favorite left-wing bumper sticker slogan, discombobulation is the highest form of patriotism. Blame bankrupt ideology, not the altitude.