BOSTON-Admittedly, it would be unfair to expect our political conventions to be showcases of candor and genuineness. They are by design high-tech political commercials in which each side spins the facts to put its candidates in the most favorable light possible.
And let me say, for the sake of intellectual honesty, that the Republicans are no better than the Democrats. In 2000, the GOP trotted out one Prozac Republican after another, as if the entire show was produced by the talents behind "Mr. Rogers." All that was missing was George W. Bush strolling out to the stage as he put on a grandfatherly sweater singing "Won't you be my voter? . Would you be mine? Could you be mine?"
Also, I should admit that the upcoming GOP convention in New York promises to be something like a remake of 2000 Convention.
But I'm in Boston to cover the Democrats and, as a journalist, I must say I find the Democrats' version of fuzzy-wuzzy agitprop particularly annoying. They are so disciplined that they have all the bite of Elmo gnawing on your ankle. For example, John Edwards may be the first vice presidential candidate ever to avoid mentioning his opponents by name even once in his acceptance speech.
As a conservative, I'm even more bothered by the seemingly defanged Democrats, because it makes their spin seem so much more reasonable.
First, there's this constant insinuation that Democrats are unique in their desire to have "every vote be counted." One of John Kerry's standard lines on the stump these days is that he'll make sure that not only will every vote count, but that every vote will be counted. Or maybe it's the other way around. Regardless, Al Gore, Barack Obama and countless lesser lights of the Democratic Party have been hinting all week that Republicans don't want votes counted, and that poor Democrats are the victims of this mean-spirited attitude.
This is all tendentious nonsense. The Florida recount was a mess that made both sides look bad at one point or another. But it is simply a lie to claim that Democrats were nobly determined to have each vote counted in Florida. They tried to block the military ballots from being counted, and they demanded recounts in only predominantly Democratic counties. It is true that they wanted many of those chad-dangling ballots counted, but they weren't terribly concerned the ballots be counted accurately. For that matter, the Democrats do have a very long record of wanting many votes to be counted - two, three and four times.
Then there's the just plain ignorant refrain that George W. Bush is responsible for anti-American feelings around the world. A Martian who listened to these speakers would assume that the nations of the world cheerfully followed America's lead like those cartoon animals following Snow White.
What a crock! Throughout the 1990s, America's standing in Europe and around the globe deteriorated. In 1999, Bill Clinton needed 10,000 policemen to protect him from Greek activists who aimed to firebomb him. Protestors in Athens continually pulled down a statue of Harry Truman.
Don't the Dems remember the anti-globalization movement of the 1990s? Have they already purged from the memory banks those images of scruffy Luddites burning American flags and razing any McDonald's in their path?
Yes, it's wonderful that John Kerry speaks French. But I doubt he can talk the French out of a reflexive anti-Americanism they cultivated for decades before Bush entered office. During the 1990s, remember, French bookstores were festooned with anti-American treatises like "Who Is Killing France? The American Strategy" and "American Totalitarianism." "No Thanks, Uncle Sam," written by a member of the French Parliament, was a bestseller. He concluded, "It is appropriate to be downright anti-American."
This was all long before George Bush's "cowboy diplomacy" got the so-called cheese-eating surrender monkeys in a snit. And there is little reason to believe that a President Kerry would be able to jibber-jabber the French - or NATO - into a "strong alliance" that wouldn't melt under fire.
Examples abound, from assertions of lost civil liberties to the specter of "families" being "rounded up" by the government. These would all be dismissed as paranoid ravings were they not delivered in such milquetoast tones.
Of course, there are reasonable difference on all the important issues. And reasonable disagreements are good. What's annoying is that the Democrats don't want talk about what those differences are.