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Democrats' national conclave : ANONYMOUS (THE REPUBLICAN)

A Democratic Event a Republican Can Love

August 16, 2000

Maybe it's the corporate sky boxes. Maybe it's the speeches about welfare reform and balanced budgets. For whatever reason, this convention is starting to seem strangely familiar.

Halfway through the week, the Democratic National Convention is beginning to feel a lot like, well, the Republican National Convention. If it weren't for all these Kennedys all over the place, I'd swear I was in Philadelphia.

There are an awful lot of Kennedys. And, apparently, they are all speaking to this convention.

Even the Playboy party was canceled for the wrong reasons. The old Michael S. Dukakis Democratic Party would have blown off Hugh Hefner and canceled the Playboy Mansion party because of pressure from outraged feminists. These new Democrats canceled the party because they were worried about family values. The DNC press release could have been written by Dr. Laura Schlessinger, for all the moral posturing they had going on.

And so, all in all, I have felt very much at home. The only potential problem came on the convention floor during Monday night's session, when a member of the California delegation recognized me and accused me of being a Republican interloper.

I had taken it as a compliment, until a little old lady--that's Republican-speak for a height-challenged senior feminist--tugged my sleeve.

"That wasn't a very nice thing for him to say to you," she said sweetly.

At that point, I threatened to privatize her Medicare benefits, and she rushed off to find convention security.

Even the protests outside the convention hall have seemed like standard GOP fare. At Republican conventions, we get the anti-nuke protesters, the animal-rights protesters and the anti-corporate protesters. So I naturally figured that the rallies outside of a Democratic get-together would be populated by stockbrokers and high-tech executives.

Instead, the demonstrators outside Staples were almost all leftists and anarchists; none seemed to realize that if they had any natural allies inside the mainstream political system, they would be Democratic convention delegates.

On Sunday, they protested on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, and the police lined up so many squad cars, motorcycles and foot patrols that downtown started looking like the last 10 minutes of "The Blues Brothers" movie.

Then, on Monday, we hit protest gridlock. They protested police brutality, at least until they started throwing street signs and garbage at the police.

They protested offshore oil drilling and against higher gas prices, which seemed somewhat contradictory to me.

They demonstrated for minority rights and women's rights, for gay rights and immigrants' rights, for workers' rights and children's rights and animal rights. And on and on. There were so many protests going on that I doubt the general public had any idea just what was being protested. Which sort of defeats the whole purpose, no?

*

In order to avoid a repeat of this mess, I would suggest that the Democratic Party adopt a system for street demonstrations similar to that employed by the NCAA for basketball championships. The Democrats can schedule a single-elimination protest tournament to take place in the weeks leading up to the convention. The protesters face off in various cities around the country, and the regional winners come to the convention for the Final Four.

The winner gets a sky box and five minutes on C-SPAN.

The whole thing would be organized, orderly, and sponsored by Gatorade, which would have made a fortune if they'd been smart enough to set up a booth in the protest pit, where the temperature must have been at least 90 degrees.

The overheated protesters spent the afternoon leaning against the police fence, fanning themselves. If it's that hot again, I'm planning to hand out fans with pictures of Newt Gingrich on them. It might blow my cover, but there's nothing like a good moral dilemma to liven up a convention that has Al Gore as its headliner.

*

"Anonymous" is a Republican political consultant. His identity will be revealed in a final column--after he is safely out of town.

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