August 03, 2004,
Iwas not among the National Review Online stalwarts reporting from Boston last week. Instead I was here in Los Angeles doing my small part in the battle against crime and villainy. Mine was arguably the more pleasant task.
If you doubt this, consider if you dare this blood-curdling scene, beamed from Boston into the Dunphy living room last Wednesday morning, courtesy of C-SPAN: There was Michael Moore holding forth before an enthralled, adoring audience, an audience that cheered and applauded and Oh, yes, Michael!-ed at every inanity spilling forth from the man's lips. But when the camera was briefly turned on Moore's enraptured flock, there incongruously among them was Byron York, stoically enduring the pain as he scribbled away in his trusty notebook. Can you even begin to imagine what an ordeal this was for him? Better to spend time among L.A.'s criminal rabble than that bunch any day, I say. I don't know what York's drinking habits are, but I suspect he needed a bracer after walking out of that one.
I'm a part-time political junkie, so when I wasn't out among the said rabble I was of course paying close attention to the proceedings in Boston. I was struck by the attention the Democrats paid to "first responders," i.e. police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel. There was a live broadcast from the engine bay of a Detroit fire station and a moving video tribute to the six Worcester, Mass., firefighters who died in a December 1999 warehouse blaze. And scattered throughout the Fleet Center and coming before the cameras every five minutes or so were clusters of men and women wearing those now-ubiquitous "Fire Fighters for Kerry" T-shirts. "We, as first responders, police, fire, and EMS, support John Kerry," said the Detroit paramedic as he stood before his comrades, some of whom looked a little embarrassed to be there. The uninformed viewer was perhaps left with the impression that John Kerry enjoys the unqualified support of the nation's public-safety workers.
In one of my first contributions to NRO, back in August 2000, I warned readers against being misled into thinking that America's police officers supported Al Gore. If you read the column today, substitute Kerry's name for Gore's and the admonition is just as apt now as it was four years ago. And now the leadership of the International Association of Fire Fighters, A.F.L.-C.I.O., is trying to bring firefighters into this little deception on behalf of John Kerry.
As there is in police work, there is in the fire service a wide chasm of opinion between those on the front lines and those who represent them or claim to in their labor unions. Generally speaking, the likelihood that a firefighter will vote for John Kerry is inversely proportional to the number of fires he has actually fought. Witness all those T-shirted "Fire Fighters for Kerry" you saw at the convention. A little soft around the middle some of them were, weren't they? Do you think some of them could haul a hose pack up 50 flights of stairs? I'm not betting on it. I'm guessing the only fires many of them have seen lately were at IAFF barbecues.
Don't just take my word for it. Visit Fire Fighters for Bush on the web and read the postings from firefighters disaffected by the leftward leanings of the IAFF leadership. A message board asks firefighters if they were polled prior to the IAFF's endorsement of Kerry. An illustrative sample response from a fireman in Kentucky: "No IAFF unions in Kentucky were polled. After receiving the IAFF magazine yesterday and reading [IAFF General President Harold] Schaitberger's excuse for the IAFF endorsement I resigned as VP of the union today. I also quit the IAFF after being a member for 39 years."
Granted, some firefighters, even some who actually fight fires, will no doubt vote for Kerry. So will some cops. But most will vote for President Bush, and as NRO has no firefighter on the payroll I will attempt to speak for both groups in explaining why this is so. (I hope the smoke-eaters won't object.) First, cops and firefighters are inherently conservative in that they understand the importance of following society's rules. Unlike John Kerry, they don't find "nuance" in every question that confronts them. In their daily duties they see the often-deadly consequences that result when people fail to do what society expects of them. Nearly every call to 9-1-1 is the result of someone concluding that these rules, be they the criminal laws or the fire codes, can be ignored. They did a good job of hiding it last week, but the Democrats are the party of libertinism, the price of which is well known to those who come when people call for help.
Second, cops and firefighters are, if the women in the ranks will forgive the expression, Regular Guys. They drink beer, not wine, and certainly not French wine. They played football and baseball in high school, not lacrosse. Regular Guys think Al Sharpton is a fraud and Michael Moore (who pretends to be a Regular Guy) is a fool, and they think Ted Kennedy is a criminal. Regular Guys do not blame Secret Service agents (who are Regular Guys) for knocking them down on the ski slopes, especially when those agents are there to take bullets for them. And Regular Guys relate to and prefer the company of other Regular Guys; they do not invite people like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck to their conventions.
Even with the piles of dough they're sitting on, both George Bush and Dick Cheney still come across as Regular Guys, the kind of men you might find hanging around the fire station or the detective squad room. And with his recent suggestion to Pat Leahy on how he might spend his idle time, the vice president climbed several notches on the Regular Guy scale. John Kerry, on the other hand, owing to his valorous service in Vietnam, might have been a Regular Guy years ago, but he surrendered his membership when he came home to join the Jane Fonda crowd and brand his former comrades as war criminals. And whatever tenuous grip he may have had on Regular Guy status since then was lost when he married his current wife. Old-fashioned notions of chivalry prevent me from offering my full opinion on her here, but Regular Guys do not under any circumstances marry women like Teresa Heinz Kerry.
You're going to see lots of those yellow t-shirts between now and election day, but don't be taken in. Like most cops, most firefighters will be voting for President Bush in November. You should be a Regular Guy and vote for him too.
Jack Dunphy is an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department. "Jack Dunphy" is the author's nom de cyber. The opinions expressed are his own and almost certainly do not reflect those of the LAPD management.