The Georgia campaign suddenly made Cleland a new symbol of rage that has characterized the party ever since the 2000 Florida recount. Previously a Senate backbencher who seldom spoke, he now is engaged in steady denunciation of Bush. A recent sample of Cleland's rhetoric claimed Bush "concluded that Daddy was a failed president" because he cut short the 1991 Gulf War "so he would be Mr. Macho Man by removing Saddam Hussein himself." When asked, Kerry declined to associate himself with those remarks.
While Cleland was listed a week ago as "introducing" Kerry to the convention, there was indecision whether to give him the higher profile role of delivering the nominating speech. The announcement of that role was made only Saturday. When I asked a senior Kerry aide whether Cleland's speech would be censored, he replied with a smile: "We don't censor in the Democratic Party. We do edit." Thus, Cleland's remarks will be tailored to the broad electorate rather than to his ardent listeners at the Fleet Center.
The delegates probably would love to hear from left-wing propagandist Michael Moore, whose current film, "Fahrenheit 9-11," embodies the party's Bush-bashing rage. While an uninvited guest at this convention, Moore has been officially welcomed by spokesmen for the Massachusetts Democratic Party and the Congressional Black Caucus. What the Kerry team does not need is a high profile here by Moore.
John Kerry won't call for the immediate removal of U.S. troops from Iraq. He won't talk about gun control. He won't embrace Michael Moore, and he will "edit" Max Cleland. He won the nomination some time ago, and is now running for president.