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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | March 17, 2003

CDP convention, Day 3; the rest of the pack

On the last day of the California Democratic Party annual conference I learned the First Cardinal Rule of Politics: Don't sing. Period.

Dennis Kucinich, taking the stage, belted out the tunes. He started with:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
And having warmed up, sang some more. There was a palpable cringe throughout the convention hall. This was on par with Kerry's prostate joke (paraphrased: "it's okay I don't have one because Cheney doesn't have a heart". Ok).

To be honest, this was my first look at Kucinich, and all I knew about him was his leadership spot on the House Progressive Caucus. His speech started okay with some anti-war stuff and impassioned calls to tackle joblessness, poverty and hunger. So far so good. But two things stood out to me, and not necessarily in a good way -- the elimination of all trade deals and nuclear disarmament. I'm a free trader and I believe in a nuclear deterrent (especially important in our brave new world). The crowd, which had enthusiastically cheered his anti-war stuff, was less enthusiastic on these two points.

But I am convinced: those who said Kucinich would drain votes from Dean were wrong. Kucinich is so far to the left as to make Dean look downright moderate.

Lieberman didn't attend the conference, and "addressed" the delegates via a pre-recorded video. It was godawful -- it's impossible to connect with an audience in a video. He had a couple of strategic pauses (for applause, it seemed) that went unheeded, and when he mentioned Iraq the audience drowned out the audio with boos and hisses. In fact, a good portion of the speech was inaudible thanks to audience hostility.

While I consider Lieberman's absence to be cowardly, it was a good political calculation. He was spared the "Lieberman faces boos" headlines from an audience he knew would be hostile. Of course, if Lieberman's campaign is predicated on facing only friendly pro-war Democrats, then he'll definitely have a short campaign. Say what you will about Edwards, but at least he had the courage to face a hostile crowd.

Moseley-Braun spoke last, but spotting Garry South on the convention floor, I decided it would be more interesting to talk to one of the Democratic Party's top strategist. I'll discuss that conversation in a separate post.

Posted March 17, 2003 12:00 AM | Comments (17)


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