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Through the Political Looking Glass

Commentary by Greg Lewis /
July 6, 2004

You've heard of strange bedfellows, but have you noticed just how strange the bedfellow situation is becoming in the 2004 Presidential campaign? The alliances get "curiouser and curiouser," to quote the author Lewis Carroll, whose proto-psychedelic creation, "Alice in Wonderland," managed to prefigure the surreal aspect of the current political campaign.

Forget the fact that George W. Bush and John Kerry are lobbing broadsides in the form of multi-million-dollar TV advertising salvoes at each other in the "battleground" states. No, the more involving aspect of the 2004 political campaign season can be found bubbling just beneath the surface, in the feints and jabs being exchanged among the has-beens, the no-longer-relevants, the contemporary political equivalents of doo-wop groups after the Beatles and the subsequent "British Invasion" took American popular music by storm in the 1960s.

We know that the Bush-Kerry dogfight is going to be decided with a high degree of finality in early November of this year. What we don't know — and may never know, which adds to the intrigue — is what effect the eerily dreamlike off-camera turf wars among the I-coulda-been-a-contender crowd (to acknowledge Marlon Brando's passing) might exert on the main event. I'm talking about the influence of the Ralph Naders, the Al Gores, the John McCains, the Howard Deans, even the Wesley Clarks, on the outcome of the main event. Because — take it to the bank — none of these wannabe has-beens shows any sign of relinquishing whatever modest claim to the national political spotlight he may have salvaged after being roundly booed off the electronic equivalent of the national political stage.

Among the latest headlines to trumpet the fact that we're not in Kansas any more was this AOL announcement: Nader and Dean Will Debate. Uh, sure. Of course. Nader and Dean. Are we talking about the Ralph Nader who can't even claim the endorsement of the radical environmentalist Green Party, which rejected him in favor of Texas attorney David Cobb, thus seriously diminishing Nader's chances of appearing on Presidential ballots in such key states as Wisconsin and California? Are we referring to the Howard Dean whose stock has sunk to a level below that of his patronymic namesake John Dean, except that Howard Dean has never actually done anything remotely as important as the long-irrelevant John Dean did? (To say nothing of the fact that Howard's wife, Judy — blogger Dan O'Leary's uncharitable headline: "Hey, Judy, Mr. Ed Wants His Smile Back" — defies comparison with John's cool and beautiful and mysterious and apparently devoted Maureen.)

It's not about the candidates' wives, you say? OK, I'll give you that. Maybe. But remember, we're not really talking about candidates here. We're talking about people who have demonstrated that they don't have what it takes to compete at the highest level for the biggest prize. Which means that we're talking about people who have an axe to grind, a bone to pick. We're talking about people who likely (though not understandably) have foresworn working in their party's best interests in favor of carving out a chunk of turf for themselves. The second-raters will do pretty much anything to grab a few news cycles worth of exposure, especially if the coverage they generate creates the impression that they're still players. There's the operative word: Player.

Everything is in play, and if you can commandeer and manage to elevate to newsworthy status an event over which you exert some control, well, you're a player. Al Gore has tried unsuccessfully to pick a possible winner he can gravy-train, but, having failed miserably by very conspicuously coming out for Dean just before Dean melted down, Gore has more recently chosen to employ the tactic of delivering the occasional fire-and-brimstone speech to a group or organization which traditionally receives national media attention in order to reassert his status as a player. The most recent example of this was his address a little over a week ago at the Georgetown University Law Center, in which he, borrowing facts and rhetoric from Michael Moore's "Farenheit 9/11," and demonstrating a command of his thought processes that would do a schizophrenic proud, lashed out at Bush for lying about the reasons we invaded Iraq. Ho hum.

The point of the preceding rant is, of course, that the Left is not only building its house upon sand — and thus virtually assuring that it will come crashing down, and sooner rather than later — it's building its house out of the flimsiest of materials. The "Alice in Wonderland" analogy holds, across the board. After she passes through the looking-glass, the Alice of Lewis Carroll's creation encounters a world which makes no sense to an intelligent person possessed of even a modicum of common sense. The description of what's occurring in the world today that we get from the mainstream media and the Democrats and John Kerry bears no more relation to what's really going on than does the surreal world Alice encountered to the solid Victorian understanding of how things worked against which Carroll's protagonist measured her experiences.

To the John Kerrys and the Al Gores and the Howard Deans and the Ralph Naders who snatch feverishly at precious airtime (and, by extension, faux legitimacy), we can only look with a measure of self-satisfied smugness. With this look we communicate to them our certainty that their unnervingly unhinged vision of the meaning of the struggle that is taking place in the world today for the very souls of the people of this planet is not only misguided, it is a ticket to the oblivion of the inhuman and totalitarian sensibility that would assume dominance in the wake of America's likely abdication, under Democrat Party control, of its role as the bastion of democratic values in the world today.

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