Friday, June 04, 2004

Laughing at ourselves

Here are a few tidbits from Joel Achenbach's typically humorous take on things in the Washington Post, this time on the "Take Back America" conference held by progressives the other day in Washington:

The progressives are in town, incredibly well behaved. They're focused and on message. They clap and cheer at appropriate moments during the speeches. There are no hecklers, no splinter groups, no eruptions of dissent over doctrinal impurities.

Progressives are suddenly as disciplined as Republicans. They realize all too keenly that there's a presidential election this fall between one man who is George W. Bush and one man who isn't.

"When your house is on fire, it's not time to talk about remodeling," said author and TV pundit Arianna Huffington, who popped up onstage and in the halls throughout the first two days of the conference.

...A progressive is what used to be known as a liberal. Liberals stopped being liberals about the time that Michael Dukakis rode around in the tank wearing the Snoopy helmet. A liberal has a bleeding heart and drives an avocado-green VW bus with a peace symbol on it; a progressive has a Listserv and raises money from his mountain biking club.

The 2,000 or so people at the Marriott might also be called the Left. But they're the polite Left, the conference-attending Left, the politically pragmatic Left that has no interest in getting in a skirmish with riot police. These people are not so enraged by globalization that they want to race across the hotel lobby and trash the adjacent Starbucks.

...The biggest applause lines invariably involved Bush. Kerry rarely got mentioned. He's a presumption but not an preoccupation. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton dropped his name once, and got polite applause, but zero whoops and hollers. She got a louder response when she said electronic voting machines should include a paper trail.