Jewish World Review August 21, 2000/ 20 Menachem-Av, 5760
Dems manufacture emotions at convention
"MAKE 'EM WEEP." So must have read the directive to speechwriters and casting directors as they mapped out the Human Emotion Project, a.k.a. the Democratic National Convention.
Weep? By mid-week, I needed intravenous liquids. Four more years of victims and survivors and I'll need my own ark. I'm an emotional wreck. Which, of course, was the point. The strategy. The mind-numbing modus operandi.
With their parade of sentimental icons and anecdotal symbolists, the Democrats saw James Harvey Robinson's ante and raised him tenfold. Robinson, who wrote "The Human Comedy" in 1937, must have had the DNC 2000 in mind when he said that political campaigns are "emotional orgies which endeavor to distract attention from the real issues involved, and actually paralyze what slight powers of cerebration man can normally muster."
I wasn't consciously aware of the emotional content of the convention until I felt the telltale trickle down my left cheek. Caroline Kennedy, the Last Remaining Survivor of Camelot, was speaking. In my mind's eye, I saw the little girl running to hug her daddy. I saw her standing stoically at her lovely mother's grave.
I pictured John-John and then, the plane, the wreaths. Oh G-d, I can't --- commercial break, please.
But the Kennedy card was just the warm-up act, "Shenandoah" to "Legends of the Fall." Behind another curtain were the parents of Matthew Shepard, the gay student who was brutally beaten to death by a couple of low-brow low-lifes. Behind another were the son and daughter of James Byrd, the black man who was dragged to death by other low-brow low-lifes in, wouldn't you know it, Texas.
Both groups appeared on the DNC dais to advance hate-crime legislation, which, of course, most Republicans oppose. Why? Well, for lots of rational reasons, but we're supposed to infer that Republicans oppose hate-crime legislation because they don't care about gays, blacks, women and other "minorities."
Indeed, according to President Clinton, Republicans may even contribute to hate crimes.
Addressing a pro-Israel group a few days ago, Clinton plumbed new depths with his selective empathy.
According to one news report, he told the audience that mass murderer Timothy McVeigh, he of Oklahoma City fame, was just a messed-up kid who heard too many conservative tirades against government.
Message: If you hate hate crimes and mass murderers - and, by association, conservatives --- the Gore-Lieberman choice is clear.
The Democrats' strategy is nothing less than staggering genius. The genius lies in the fact that even to acknowledge the strategy is to reveal oneself as heartless. To suggest that this well-orchestrated circus of emotion-choking, hard-luck stories is designed to numb minds and swell hearts is to be mean, cynical and callous.
How could anyone criticize Sen. Joe Lieberman, for instance, when he's the first in his family to graduate college, son of an orphan/baker, married to the daughter of Holocaust survivors? In the context of this supra-American tale of survival and moral fitness, it's impossible to raise so much as an eyebrow. To criticize Lieberman now is tantamount to criticizing the American dream.
It is probably cold-hearted to imagine that the sentiment-spinners were thrown briefly by the unscheduled report that John "stage-stealer" McCain had been diagnosed with malignant melanoma. The Dems scrambled nicely, however, and managed to convert McCain's potential tragedy into a DNC moment of McCainiac pathos.
There was Al Gore, stifling emotion as he promised to pray for John. Maybe his concern was sincere, but how would we know? That's the problem with manufactured emotion.
After a while, it's all
JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.
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