The last refuge of the modern liberal is patriotism. John Kerry clothed himself on Thursday night in the American flag that his friends used to boast of burning. He relied on ribbons he once flung at the White House as proof of his fitness to occupy it. And he accused the Republicans of anti-Americanism, a slur liberals once wore as a badge of honor.
Kerry perspired his way through the platitudes ably enough, but it was telling that he had to depend parasitically on Dick Cheney's line -- "help is on the way" -- to find an anthem of his own. The Democrats have decided to be a pale imitation of the Republicans even in their rhetorical constructs.
Kerry's daughters were saddled with the chore of having to humanize him. They came up with a few human qualities he displayed at a "chili feed," spoke of how he brought some "foliage" to his dying mom, and how he once rescued a hamster named Licorice from death. No sooner was the hamster story concluded than Alexandra Kerry was promising that her Pa would protect abortion -- "controlling our bodies." The Democrats never fail to couple their environmentalism -- protecting animals -- with calls for not protecting humans through abortion. Democrats argue for purity in nature and impurity in human nature, selflessness toward hamsters, selfishness toward vulnerable humans.
Kerry said that "complexity" doesn't trouble him. Actually, he means contradiction doesn't trouble him. It was interesting to see him slide from internationalism to near-nativism within a few paragraphs of the speech. The candidate who believes we should be working more with foreigners spoke in an almost brooding nativist tone about the indignity of fired Americans surrendering their jobs to "foreigners." The great internationalist -- the one who says that we are too closed off to the world -- is upset that Americans and foreigners are working side by side at auto plants?
There was also of course the blatant contradiction of Kerry saying that Democrats won't divide America, then doing just that before finishing his speech. This most improbable champion of the "middle class" had no qualms about dividing America by wealth, egging Americans into soaking the rich. It was a nice hypocritical Democratic touch to have notorious tax-dodging multimillionaire Willie Nelson sing before the class-warfare commenced.
Kerry's derivative rhetoric went from Cheney's "help is on the way" to quoting Ron Reagan Jr. musings on his father's religion. Kerry said that he doesn't wear his "religion on his sleeve" -- perhaps too many recently discovered ribbons are getting in the way -- but that he endeavors to be on "God's side." Then he proceeded to tout the Democrats' opposition to the Republicans' constitutional protection of marriage as ordained by God. Naturally, Kerry didn't mention in his warning about constitutional tinkering that he marched for the Equal Rights Amendment, a constitutional amendment that would have, among other things, backdoored same-sex marriage into the Constitution.
What God has joined together, the Democrats are happy to put asunder. Barney Frank, speaking at the convention earlier, let the cat out of the bag when he said Democrats stand for letting homosexuals "marry," further proof that a Kerry presidency will mean same-sex marriage nationwide.
Weaker at home, weaker abroad -- this is the Democratic mantra reduced to reality which Kerry's new-found patriotism cannot conceal.
George Neumayr is managing editor of The American Spectator.
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