Hollywood, CA -- When the Democrat National Convention and circus side-show, billed as "America 2000" finally gets underway at the 20,500-seat Los Angeles Staples Center on Monday, the promoters claim that "history is going to be made." Well, history, they say, has a tendency to repeat itself. Listen carefully to what the organizers are calling their "American Dialogues," and you will hear frequent references to the man the Democrats claim as the founder of their party -- Thomas Jefferson. It's an interesting historical perspective -- for in 1792, Jefferson organized what he called the Democrat-Republican party. As it was then -- it is trying to be today.
The Democrats flooding into tinsel-town for their well-scripted shindig want to give their party's standard bearers, Messrs. Gore & Lieberman, the same kind of boost that the City of Brotherly Love gave Republicans George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. And if the hoards of protesters -- more than twice as many as descended on Philadelphia -- don't screw it up for them -- they will probably look pretty good in the polls. For a while.
The problem isn't the convention, or even the protesters. The problem is the self-proclaimed Al and Joe "Dream Team" (another historically interesting term to use in the city that brought us the O.J. trial). And the dilemma for the Dynamic Dem Duo is how to position themselves as something they are not -- as Democrat-Republicans.
This quandary has created a mild case of schizophrenia in the Gore for president campaign. Prince Albert the Inventor, famous for padding his own resume, has now taken to padding his running mate's. When he introduced Senator Lieberman, at their Nashville political rally/prayer meeting, Tennessee's most famous slumlord said: "Joe Lieberman has stood up to the big oil companies and cracked down on price gouging at the gas pump. He believes, as I do, in an America that frees itself forever from the dominance of big oil and foreign oil."
Now it may all depend on how you define "stood up to" or "cracked down on," but Federal Election Commission reports show that the good Mr. Lieberman has accepted at least $14,000 in declared campaign donations from "Big Oil" companies like Occidental Petroleum, Texaco, Atlantic Richfield and get this -- Halliburton -- the company Dick Cheney worked for -- and that Al Gore dislikes so much! When I questioned Gore's former Communications Director Lorraine Voles on MSNBC's Equal Time about that, all she could say was, "Maybe that company is not as horrible as we thought." That's the way it is with today's Democrat-Republicans. They have very strong convictions on issues -- until they change them.
Thus, as Senator Bill Bradley repeatedly pointed out in the primaries earlier this year, Al Gore once was pro-life and used to express in constituent correspondence, his "deep personal conviction that abortion is wrong" and his "belief that innocent human life must be protected."
Almost everyone knows that Gore was once as proud of "hoeing, digging, spraying, chopping, shredding, spiking, stripping and selling" tobacco as he was of his "A-plus gun-rights rating " from the NRA. And many remember Al and wife Tipper, standing up to Hollywood's violent, misogynistic, pornographic and vulgar products. But all that was B.C. -- Before Clinton.
In order to become a Democrat-Republican in the Clinton mold, Gore has had to run from his record. And Joe Lieberman is already doing the same. Appearing on Larry King Live the night he was picked for the Democrat ticket, Lieberman said, "It is not true," when asked if he favors some privatization of Social Security. But just two years ago, Lieberman said, "A remarkable wave of innovative thinking is advancing the concept of privatization, some personalization of retirement plans ... I think in the end that individual control of part of the retirement/Social Security funds has got to happen."
Now, the Gore campaign has announced that they are "proud of the differences" between Al and Joe. That's why it's a mistake for Republicans to be depicting Lieberman as a "conservative" or even a "moderate." He's not. Lieberman 's two-term voting record in the Senate shows him to be a liberal. He favors partial-birth abortion, votes for gun-control measures and supports special rights for homosexuals. He voted against the balanced-budget amendment, voted against cutting funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, and voted against protecting the American flag from desecration. The National Taxpayers Union calls Lieberman a "big-spending liberal." You'll know his "morphing" is complete when, on the stage at the Staples Center, he embraces the man he once described as "immoral."
The potentates of the press gathering out here for the Los Angeles Convention and Playboy Mansion fundraiser are still calling the Lieberman choice "bold," "daring" and "historic," because he is "the first Jewish candidate on a major party ticket." You can't blame the people who tell Al Gore what to wear, how to comb his hair and what to say for wanting to do something "historic." It may well be their last chance. But those among them who actually know history will recall the fate of the first "Democratic-Republicans" back in 1796. Thomas Jefferson lost to John Adams.