Tom Jackson: Democrats suddenly in need of a ringmaster

Democratic circus copy

If the axiom describing how the major parties go about selecting their presidential nominees — Democrats fall in love; Republicans fall in line — had held up in 2016, the Jeb! versus Feel-the-Bern campaign ahead would be only slightly less bizarre than the one we have.

Instead, the parties switched roles — which, in Caitlyn Jenner Nation, where every public restroom or changing facility is suddenly gender neutral, is to be expected — leaving us with the spectacle of loopy, star-smacked Republicans at the altar with Donald Trump, and coldly manipulative — hat tip, WikiLeaks — and methodical Democrats lining up, as they’ve known they would have to do since the summer of 2008, behind Hillary Clinton.

Dare we expect the role reversal meme to extend to this week’s Democratic National Convention? I mean, the GOP certainly did its world-turned-upside-down part in Cleveland, reducing the ultimate showman’s coronation into four nights of red meat slinging that — barring an unlikely outcome in November — many, including a hard core of dismayed Republicans, will remember as the Mistake By The Lake.

By contrast, convention weirdness usually is a Democratic specialty. Delegates pretty much booed God in 2012. Sticklers point out they booed what they thought was railroading the absent Almighty back onto the party’s platform, but that’s a distinction without a difference. In 2008, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops swatted then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi for “misrepresent[ing] the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.”

You just might detect a theme.

It’s also important to remember perpetual gaffe-tastic machine Joe Biden spoke at both the 2008 and 2012 conventions, representing a one-man scale-balancer for whatever fact mangling RNC speakers achieved.

Usually, it’s just DNC speakers being themselves that prompts Republicans, conservative media and more than a few middle Americans to swoon, and this week should be no exception. For instance, “Girls” creator and star Lena Dunham, feminism’s arch feminist, is back-back-back, never mind the self-inflicted wounds in her 2014 autobiography, “Not That Kind of Girl.” It’s all cool. For certain Democrats, sexually manipulating your kid sister and most likely inventing a rape story, especially by a Republican, are reputation enhancers.

On the upside, with Dunham, Demi Lovato, Katy Perry, Eva Longoria and America Ferrera expected to speak, the DNC will feature celebrities who don’t need name tags.

Still, on the eve of the eve of the Democrats’ quadrennial gathering, this time in Philadelphia, WikiLeaks unleashed the biggest thing to hit a political party since a paranoid Dick Nixon morphed a third-rate burglary into an article of impeachment. The biggest, that is, so long as, like FBI Director James Comey, you’re willing to overlook running top U.S. secrets through an unsecured email server in the basement of a house in a New York suburb.

So now Dems have this delicious, layered conspiracy to muddle through, one that appears to confirm what Trump claimed from the get-go: The system is rigged to disenfranchise and discourage ordinary, frustrated Americans, in favor of powerful insiders. Making it go away will take more than the “resignation” of Herself’s chief saboteur, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Gold Coast congresswoman and soon-to-be-former DNC chairwoman.

Yes, in nominating a billionaire developer and reality TV star, Republicans put on a convention that was entertaining in unintentional ways. It was, all in all, every bit the circus critics said it was.

But now we know unequivocally what we suspected all along. The fix was in, and there was no dirty, lowdown, nasty trick the Democratic Party’s apparatus wasn’t willing to play to deny any challenge to Madame Inevitable’s crown.

Add to that two high-profile speakers who represent the antithesis of Republicans’ law-and-order theme — bereaved mothers Lezley McSpadden and Gwen Carr — and you have the makings of a convention that will leave most Americans quaking. To refresh: Michael Brown and Eric Garner — the sons of McSpadden and Carr, respectively — died at the hands of on-duty police who were exonerated by grand juries.

That the pair will speak will no doubt feed the “hands up, don’t shoot” fraud perpetrated by Black Lives Matter; worse, it also puts Democrats squarely in the anti-cop camp. John McNesby, president of Philadelphia’s police union, is not amused, writing:

“The Fraternal Order of Police is insulted, and will not soon forget, that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton are excluding the widows, and other family members of police officers killed in the line of duty who were victims of explicit, and not implied racism, and ‘being on duty in blue.’

“It is sad that to win an election Mrs. Clinton must pander to the interests of people who do not know all the facts, while the men and women they seek to destroy are outside protecting the political institutions of this country.”

Yes, last week Republicans unwittingly put on a circus. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only big top on tour. On the other hand, there’s one thing in this unlikely election year the GOP has that Democrats plainly lack, and that’s a world-class ringmaster.

Tom Jackson

Recovering sports columnist and former Tampa Tribune columnist Tom Jackson argues on behalf of thoughtful conservative principles as our best path forward. Fan of the Beach Boys, pulled-pork barbecue and days misspent at golf, Tom lives in New Tampa with his wife, two children and two yappy middle-aged dogs.


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