Friday, September 3

Lovefest at MSG

Another indespensible column by Paul Krugman, sing it brother.

There was plenty of hatred in Manhattan, but it was inside, not outside, Madison Square Garden.

Barack Obama, who gave the Democratic keynote address, delivered a message of uplift and hope. Zell Miller, who gave the Republican keynote, declared that political opposition is treason: "Now, at the same time young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief." And the crowd roared its approval.

Why are the Republicans so angry? One reason is that they have nothing positive to run on (during the first three days, Mr. Bush was mentioned far less often than John Kerry).

The promised economic boom hasn't materialized, Iraq is a bloody quagmire, and Osama bin Laden has gone from "dead or alive" to he-who-must-not-be-named.

Another reason, I'm sure, is a guilty conscience. At some level the people at that convention know that their designated hero is a man who never in his life took a risk or made a sacrifice for his country, and that they are impugning the patriotism of men who have.

That's why Band-Aids with Purple Hearts on them, mocking Mr. Kerry's war wounds and medals, have been such a hit with conventioneers, and why senior politicians are attracted to wild conspiracy theories about Mr. Soros.

It's also why Mr. Hastert, who knows how little the Bush administration has done to protect New York and help it rebuild, has accused the city of an "unseemly scramble" for cash after 9/11. Nothing makes you hate people as much as knowing in your heart that you are in the wrong and they are in the right.

But the vitriol also reflects the fact that many of the people at that convention, for all their flag-waving, hate America. They want a controlled, monolithic society; they fear and loathe our nation's freedom, diversity and complexity.

Bigotude and intolerance was in full bloom inside the garden this week, not to mention a healthy dose of grave robbing. Those that are baptised in the fetid waters of republican intolerance love America the way a wifebeater loves his wife. For this group there really are 2 America's, despite the protestations (with an attendant bouquet of too much) to the contrary. One america is reserved for the elect ("I call you my base"), and one for the "help" a category that the rest of us occupy. That this convention of moderation morphed into base frenzification program activation, suggests not only the death of shame, but that Rove believes he can win on hate alone. If they are successful you can be assured the "new boss will not be same as the old boss."