Sunday, January 9, 2005

Thought for the Day, from a gloomy party member on the Democratic Underground Web site: “Reality sucks. That’s the problem. We want another reality.”

Well, they’re doing a grand job of creating their alternative universe. Midday last Thursday, as George W. Bush was about to be confirmed formally as the winner of the presidential election, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, described by Agence France Presse as the “Democratic former presidential hopeful,” led 400 other Democrats in a protest outside Congress. Presidential-wise, they may be former but they’re still hopeful. So they were wearing orange, the color of the election protesters in Ukraine, who overturned their own stolen election with an “orange revolution.”

Now on the one hand it’s very brave for the Rhymin’ Reverend to lead an orange protest. There is no rhyme for the word “orange.” Irving Berlin tried and the best he could manage was “door-hinge,” which just about works in certain boroughs of New York but would make an unreliable jingle for the Rhymin’ Rev. to bellow at Bush from outside the White House:

“We’re here, we’re orange;

We’re pushing at your door-hinge … ”

But on the other hand, what’s he really saying? That Americans are in the same situation as Ukrainians? That their election was stolen? In Ukraine, the one side poisoned the other side’s candidate. His face broke out and his hair turned gray. John Kerry’s hair is fabulous, and for much of the campaign his glowing moisturized skin looked like an orange revolution all by itself. He was obviously worried about being poisoned, which is why he nibbled so tentatively during his pretend lunch stop at Wendy’s and took only a couple of sips when doing his impression of a regular guy drinking beer at that Ohio sports bar. But he managed to dodge that bullet, and Jesse Jackson never got a chance to channel Danny Kaye: The pellet with the poison’s in the Brahmin with the Botox.

But I’m beginning to wonder if Karl Rove didn’t manage to slip something into the whine cellar at Democratic headquarters. It beggars belief that Rev. Jesse on the steps of Congress, and the Congressional Black Caucus in the House, and Barbara Boxer in the Senate would start the new term with yet another reprise of the same old song from the last four years — that George W. Bush, the World’s Biggest Moron, somehow managed to steal another election. That makes three in a row. The GOP is obviously getting better at it.

As usual, the media did their best to string along with the Democrats’ alternative reality: For the most part, the press now fulfill the same function for the party that kindly nurses do at the madhouse; if the guy thinks he’s Napoleon, just smile affably and ask him how Waterloo is going.

So Alan Fram of the Associated Press reported with a straight face that Sen. Boxer, Rep. John Conyers and the other protesting Democrats “hoped the showdown would underscore the problems such as missing voting machines and unusually long lines that plagued some Ohio districts, many in minority neighborhoods.”

I think not. What it underscores is that the Democrats are losers. Speaking as a foreigner — which I believe entitles me to vote in up to three California congressional districts — I have voted on paper ballots all my life and reckon all these American innovations — levers, punch cards, touch-screen — are a lot of flim-flam. I would be all in favor of letting the head of Bangladesh’s electoral commission design a uniform federal ballot for U.S. elections. But that’s not the issue here.

What happens on Election Day is that the Democrats lose and then decide it was because of “unusually long lines” in “minority neighborhoods.” What “minority neighborhoods” means is electoral districts run by Democrats: in Ohio in 2004 as in Florida in 2000, the “problems” all occur in counties where the Dems run the system. Sometimes, as in King County, Wash., they get lucky and find enough votes from the “disenfranchised” accidentally filed in the icebox at Democratic headquarters. But in Ohio, George W. Bush managed to win not just beyond the margin of error but beyond the margin of lawyer. If there had been anything to sue and resue and re-resue over, you can bet those 5,000 shysters the Kerry campaign flew in would do it. Instead, Mrs. Boxer and Mr. Conyers and Co. are using a kind of parliamentary privilege to taint Mr. Bush’s victory without the flimsiest pretext.

And that’s sure to work, isn’t it? Another two years of Tom Daschle obstructionism and Michael Moore paranoia. You don’t need to run a focus group to know that’s the formula that will sweep Dems back into office on Election Day 2006, right?

A Democrat chum said to me Thursday, oh well, they’re just doing this to toss a bone to the base. But they’re running out of bones to toss, and the base needs a reality check, not more pandering. One reason the party has shriveled away to Greater New England plus the “minority neighborhoods” of a few cities is that it’s all fringe, and no mainstream: The base is out of control; the kooks still holding their postelection vigil outside one of Mr. Kerry’s mansions sound no loopier than the big-time senators. The party has no urge to move on from

I say all this (takes out onion and starts peeling) more in sorrow than anger. Two plausible parties are necessary for a functioning democracy, especially in war, especially in a long war that inevitably will have to be fought by presidents both Republican and Democrat.

The Dems might get lucky. The GOP might nominate some freaky goofball in ‘08, and the other fellow will win by default. But, as the 2004 field reminded us, this isn’t a party exactly brimming with talent and fresh faces. And, as for ideas, when was the last time you heard a fresh policy from a Democrat? The serious arguments about war, Social Security, immigration and pretty much everything else are all within factions of the right. The Democrats’ only contribution is to insist someone in Halliburton has figured out a way to get the touch-screen voting machines to make Democrat votes vanish. Democrat votes are vanishing because Democrat voters are vanishing because Democrat intellectual energy has all but vanished.

Or as Republican Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio summed up Thursday’s Boxer rebellion: “Their objection is a front for their lack of ideas.”

Mark Steyn is the senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc. Publications, senior North American columnist for Britain’s Telegraph Group, North American editor for the Spectator, and a nationally syndicated columnist.

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