Monday, August 25, 2008

Demver -- Day One

The beauty of watching the Dem fest from home is that I can remain steadily cranked while surfing through the sights and sounds. And given what awaits we Americans this week, all the promises of recaptured glory, all the partisan howling, all the delusional and selective views of our present condition, a ready stash of whatever filters the madness is necessary. Plus, there's the added bonus of not pressing all that liberal flesh. After a few hours of direct exposure, gazing at the collective gleam in those mule eyes and listening to the endless praise of The Ticket, you want to start swinging wildly, or perhaps fake some kind of fit, just to create breathing space if nothing else. Large crowds always make me crazy. Watching them on screen is close enough for me.

I've mentioned my time at the 1992 Dem convention in New York, when the Clinton/Gore-bots occupied Madison Square Garden. I was with Hitchens, and thus lubricated, but warmly so, nothing too jagged or extreme. I remember wandering around the convention floor, staring up at the giant podium, walking past all the delegations, watching Sen. Fritz Hollings from South Carolina, a tall, lanky man, telling amusing stories to two middle-aged women who were practically swooning. Ol' Fritz was playing up the sexy Southern pol vibe that defined that convention, what with Arkansas and Tennessee making up the ticket. There was plenty of pussy for any smooth Dem with a rural accent -- Big Bill C. saw to that. I don't know if Hollings scored with those women, but from the looks on their faces, it was there for the asking.

I, on the other hand, was busy passing out the special convention issue of New York Perspectives, the Manhattan weekly I then edited. The cover yelled, "Welcome Suckers!" showing an overinflated Bill Clinton floating above the throng. Inside was all manner of attacks on the Dems, mostly from the left, but one from the right, as I had a former Dartmouth Review editor and occasional National Review contributor write his prediction of how the country would fare under a Clinton presidency. He tried to be funny, yet there was a seriousness to his paranoia, none of which I shared, but published in the spirit of open debate. I think he predicted the use of federal troops to squelch dissent. I laughed at that one. But then, this was several months before Waco, so I suppose the joke was on me.

Predictably, most of the delegates took one glance at our paper's cover, then either threw it to the ground or back in my face. I don't know what I was thinking back then. Yes, I was younger and less experienced in these matters, but the idea of baiting such a large, partisan mob was half-baked at best. I suppose I was into sensation, the immediacy of political wrath. Who the fuck knows.

A Buffalo-area editor recently suggested that I accompany him to Demver where we would distribute one hundred or so copies of "Savage Mules" that he'd purchase. It was tempting, especially with a camera there to catch the reactions and perhaps spark some discussions. But the whole thing fell apart, which is just as well. After all, I wouldn't want to disturb the evolving warm embrace of Joe Biden by the mule faithful. By the end of this week, Biden will be a progressive warrior, Obama's pit bull sent to clamp down on John McCain's withered balls. For many, the Biden pods have already opened, their glazed grins a sign of total acceptance. My pal Glenn Greenwald must have opened his pod on the plane to Demver. After going on for paragraphs about how awful Biden is on so many fronts, Glenn writes:

"None of this is to say that Biden is a bad pick. Given the other likely choices that had been bandied about, there were far worse possibilities, and few better ones. It's much more difficult to predict the political effect of these sorts of things than the always-omniscient political pundits like to pretend, but there are certainly many good reasons for thinking that the choice of Biden is politically shrewd."

And despite the copious amounts of blood coating Biden's hands, Glenn believes that he doesn't have as much as McCain or Joe Lieberman. I seriously doubt this is so. McCain maybe, only because he bombed Vietnamese people. But as long-time Senators, McCain, Lieberman, and Biden have helped finance and defend all manner of mass murder. To split the difference in order to make the Dem ticket look less menacing is a stretch, but that's Glenn all over. He knows what time it is, but pretends that there's no clock on the wall. We all cope in our varied ways.

I will try to keep a running commentary on the Demver gathering from my little hidey-hole in the fat middle. Check back every few hours. I can't promise that my observations will make sense, or even be grammatically sound. But as the author of "Savage Mules," I feel it's my responsibility to you, the American voter. Now, where's the Absolut . . .