Wake Me Up in 2004

In which Will Durst manages to keep his eyes open during ‘Liberal Night’ at the Democratic National Convention without the help of pharmaceuticals, at least for a while. Is there a method to the Democrats’ badness?

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Where have all the liberals gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the liberals gone?
Long time ago.

Jackson, Kennedy, Bradley. You could cut the tension Tuesday at the Staples Center with a damp bar coaster, and trust me, there are plenty available here in L.A. Hey, everybody! Rummage around the back of the closet and drag out the love beads so we can all celebrate Liberal Night at the Democratic Carnival. Hit the centrists in the face with a bombastic pie and win yourself a reluctant nod of approval from Maxine Waters!

In an attempt to cleanse the palate from the high-starch content of Monday’s ravenous plundering at the buffet of self-congratulations, last night was a series of high-fiber nostalgic snacks, meant more for their nutritional value than taste. Think three hours of tofu without all the tangy flavor. But even the hardest core NPR-listening, Volvo-driving, white- wine-sipping, Birkenstock-wearing lefty would have been hard-pressed to stay awake without a healthy two-liter dose of dark-roast Colombian coffee. Shade-grown, butterfly-friendly, of course.

Perennial poetry-slam champ Jesse Jackson kicked off the festivities with an admonition to “stay out the Bushes” in response to the Philadelphia Republican “inclusion illusion.” Nobody knows what the rest of his speech meant, but it had a nice beat, was easy to dance to, and was the high point of the evening, so there’s no sense in nitpicking.

Introducing her uncle, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg participated in the near slaughter of the most revered of all the Democratic party’s sacred cows: Camelot. She’s a bright, refined, and entrancingly sophisticated mix of her mother and her father, but to squander the memories of her legacy on a crummy intro seemed so wasted. And, speaking of Teddy….

Let’s be kind and simply say this wasn’t quite 1980 all over again. But perhaps the Dems are trying to lower the bar for the presumptive nominee two days hence. If so, Bill Bradley accomplished that task beyond anybody’s wildest dreams. How to describe his endorsement of his midwinter rival? Tepid, mild, lukewarm, apathetic, dull, half-hearted, and languid all come to mind.

But perhaps there’s good reason for the barbiturate-like effect of such a parade of boredom: Now, no matter how dull and boring Al Gore appears, he will emerge relatively magnetic on Thursday. I’m only surprised that they didn’t dig up Dukakis.

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