Friday, August 16, 2002

Democrat Blues (Part 1)

The September 11th anniversary poses some difficult problems for the New York Democratic Party. They don't want to appear any less jingoistic than their Republican counterparts but they face some rather unique challenges.

To begin with, Democrats like Al Sharpton, David Dinkins and Mark Green have spent their entire careers criticizing and denuding the New York Police Department -- charter members of the 9/11 triumvirate of heroism (NYPD, FDNY, EMS).

Secondly, Democratic party leaders devoted nearly every waking hour of 2001 to de-legitimizing the administrations of George W. Bush and Rudolph Giuliani and criticizing them in the most personal terms. This lasted until 9/12 when polls showed W and Rudy to be the two most popular and trusted people in the country.

Thirdly, the demographic profile of the victims of the Trade Center attacks (20 to 40-year-old, white, Irish Catholic, males) closely corresponds to the cohort most likely to join the Taliban before ever casting a vote for a New York Democrat.

And lastly, while no one dares mention it, September 11th is a Republican event. The attacks and their aftermath instantly conjure images that validate core Republican values (duty, honor, country, old-fashioned manly heroism) and undermine those the Democrats hold dear (identity politics, pacifism, moral equivalence). Democrats can't mention it for fear of demonstrating their vulnerability and Republican don't need to.

But Mayor Bloomberg is conscious of the vulnerability and in a spirit of inclusiveness he has asked that all speeches delivered on the 9/11 anniversary be historical ones such as Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Original speeches were deemed to be "too political.”

So what have the Democrats in their wisdom decided to do? They're set to broadcast a pre-emptive television commercial on September 10th in which prominent Democratic politicos recite snippets of the Gettysburg Address!

Smart move. They've managed to take the most emotionally charged day in memory and the most significant speech in American history and twist the two of them into a shallow hack political posture.

I don't think the Republican party itself could have conceived of a more dramatic way of showing how craven and defensive the "party of the people" has become in the face of a year's worth of flag waving and fireman adulation.

Hillary Clinton has refused to take part in the stunt. Say what you will about her but she's no fool.

Now, as for the others . . . ?

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