Wednesday, August 16

"We have a huge script here that we’re going to stick to," said Tom Lorenzen, who clearly has nothing whatsoever to do with organizing the increasingly disorganized Democratic convention. In fact, Lorenzen is an LAPD commander. This being Hollywood, Lorenzen’s script contains the Syd Field-required action scene in the first ten pages: pepper spray, rubber bullets and projectile beanbags rained down on "hostile protesters," in one cop’s words. "We knew what [the police] were doing and we supported them," a Gore aide said. Finally, violence in Hollywood that Joe Lieberman can get behind.

"The LAPD has not merely failed to protect demonstrators’ rights to free speech, it has run roughshod over them," an ACLU attorney complained. But if protesters are having trouble getting their message out, the main obstacle is not police repression, but the dismissive attitude of the media. Reaching new heights of condescension (surpassing even Bill Clinton’s didn’t-Hillary-give-a-nice-talk remark), The New York Times assigned its protest coverage to a rock critic, Neil Strauss, who chided protesters as vandals who merely "don’t want to go home." Strauss determined that most of them "harbored not a single political thought," although virtually every activist group these days has a Web site explaining what it stands for and why. Meanwhile on CNN, Bernard Shaw dismissed protesters for having too many political thoughts instead of "a single unifying cause." Unlike Al Gore, we suppose, whose only cause is getting elected.

Defending the police actions, Lorenzen told the LA Times, "We had a 360-degree problem. It was like elementary-school science where you see that amoeba moving." We must have slept through that class, but it doesn’t really matter what that means, if anything, because Lorenzen’s chief response to complaints about the LAPD was simply, "What would you do, call in the Girl Scouts?"

Meanwhile, the Gore campaign’s script called for it to…call in the Girl Scouts. Would-be first daughters Karenna and Kristin made the media rounds yesterday, Connecting with the Young People the way dad only wishes he could. Karenna wooed young mothers, telling an online pregnancy magazine, "I am totally supportive of nursing in public, or wherever the hell it’s necessary," which it fortunately wasn’t on Jay Leno last night, while Kristin assured an audience of MTVers that "my father is very tuned in." As long as his antenna is properly adjusted.

At the convention itself, for those of you among the 275 million who weren’t watching, one highlight was the appearance of Teddy Kennedy, who took the stage to the tune of "Still the One," which whoever wrote the evening’s script apparently forgot was the theme song of the (unflatteringly) Clintonesque candidate in the movie Primary Colors. Also, Jesse Jackson was trotted out–not, of course, in primetime–to praise the diversity of the Democrats’ show: blacks, Latinos, gays–even a liberal or two, though they shouldn’t expect any cabinet positions. It was, he said, "the quilt of many patches that is America."

"I could just go off and be quilter in the mountains," said Karenna, "but it just turns out that I actually am quite stimulated and engaged and interested and really moved by this political moment." We understand, we felt like saying. What’s not stimulating, engaging, interesting and moving about Al Gore versus George W. Bush? But then we heard Karenna tell MTV something that might have been meant just for us: "We’ve got to roll up our sleeves and get involved and resist that ironic detachment."

For a moment, we were convinced. But then we thought about the least ironic, most involved people we’ve seen this week, and how they’ve been spending their time running from pepper spray and rubber coated bullets, and we thought, let’s ride this ironic detachment thing a little longer and see where it takes us.

—Daniel Radosh

[ 100% True ]

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