July 27, 2004,
Okay, sports fans I mean, convention fans settle in for an Impromptus, in which the items will be in no particular order at least no order that a normal reader should be able to discern.
Came to Boston on Sunday. I was scheduled to take the 3 o'clock shuttle. But I was at the airport quite early, and I thought I might like to take the 2. Going through the gate of that flight was . . . Natalie Portman (the actress). Is she pretty? Um, yes really, really pretty. Hard-not-to-stare pretty.
As it turned out, I didn't take that flight. But I did take the 3:00 flight on which I sat next to, or across the aisle from, David Dinkins, the former mayor of New York. Mainly, the talk was of tennis, Dinkins's passion. But he did relate a joke, which I will share with you.
Passenger at an airline counter: "I have three bags. I'd like one to go to London, the second to go to Amsterdam, and the third to go to Munich."
Airline clerk: "Sir, we can't do that."
Passenger: "You did it last week!"
In a non-partisan spirit, I will refrain from commenting on Mr. Dinkins's term as mayor except to say this: If it weren't for it, Rudolph Giuliani could not have been elected.
Yesterday, went to lunch with the wonderful Jeff Jacoby, columnist of the Boston Globe. That entailed, initially, going to the Globe, which I thought of as the journalistic equivalent of visiting the Kremlin. If I don't get to the Kremlin, at least I've been to the Globe.
Anyway, Jeff is one of the invaluable journalists in this country, and, at his paper, he is a Party of One the one man who "diversifies" that publication. (Which reminds me: My piece in the current NR is called "The Joy of Tokenism," and it springs from attendance at a recent "Renaissance Weekend.")
Outside the Fleet Center, there were some kids with a giant flip-flop. They turned out to be College Republicans, and their job was to portray John Kerry as a flip-flopper.
I'm not a big fan of that tack emphasizing the candidate's flip-flopping. In my view, people don't really care about flip-flopping (and do so themselves). Better to emphasize Kerry's "Massachusetts liberalism."
But those Republican kids were awfully brave, and as of the time I talked to them, they hadn't taken much grief. "One man got up into our faces," said a CR girl, "and there have been some hecklers, but otherwise . . ."
Would you stand there with that flip-flop? I wouldn't. But thank goodness there are those gutsier than I.
Go here for a speech in which I hail a classmate who actually wore a little-feet pin, symbolizing opposition to abortion.
As we were talking with the flip-flop kids, Jeff Jacoby said, "We used to call them thongs. Remember when 'thong' pre-Monica, pre-everything else had a different meaning?"
Break from the convention to consider this story out of Israel: "Israel's security minister warned yesterday of a possible attack on a Jerusalem mosque Islam's third-holiest shrine by Israeli right-wing groups seeking to derail a plan to pull out of Gaza."
Well, that's no different from what the Palestinians do, right? Warn Jews of impending attacks on their sites?
Said Teresa Heinz Kerry of Bush's presidency, "The most insidious and probably most debilitating of all of it is the lack of dignity and respect perpetrated on the American people. That is not American."
Mrs. Kerry has called Bush un-American, unpatriotic. I'm sorry to keep playing this theme, but what if Mrs. Bush or some other prominent Republican said it? Huh?
I have a new favorite sentence of all those ever published in the New York Times: "Of course it is."
The headline over Daniel Okrent's "Public Editor" column was, "Is the New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?" His first sentence: "Of course it is."
A T-shirt I saw in the Fleet Center: "I care, therefore I vote Democratic." Yeah, yeah.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw an interesting T-shirt in New York: "If a man expresses an opinion in the desert and a woman isn't there to hear him, is he still wrong?"
Kinda cute old-fashioned, but cute.
The JFK Library is set off by itself, appearing a kind of fortress. That is right as a metaphor, because that library is famously impregnable to scholars and others seeking more than flattering information about the late president. For many years, acolytes and courtiers have protected the Kennedy "legacy," to the detriment of truth-seeking and judgment-forming.
But a few such as Parmet and Reeves have broken through anyway.
In a corridor of the Fleet Center, Time has a nice display, of photos and magazine covers of Dem candidates over the years only Dems. No Republicans (maybe the GOPers will show up at Madison Square Garden).
I'll tell you something just slightly annoying when "historic" covers (such as the announcement of Ferraro) are covers you remember well.
The Dems are selling Kerry trinkets in the form of dog tags. Sort of clever but a little creepy as well.
Don't remember those trinkets at the Clinton conventions, do you?
I saw something rather bizarre: a bevy of beautiful young girls dressed as cheerleaders, from "the Electoral College." They were passing out trinkets touting www.electoralcollegeusa.com, and one girl was holding a tiny little dog a five-month-old "Yo quiero Taco Bell" dog that had a little diamond choker.
Damnedest thing. Reese Witherspoon-like, too.
From the New York Post: "Cops will descend this week on Times Square, Central Park, the World Trade Center site, and other popular destinations for Republican National Convention delegates, to clear out hookers, drug dealers, pickpockets, illegal peddlers and scam artists.
"They'll also round up homeless people and encourage them to head to shelters, instead of staying on the streets, according to police. . . .
"In addition, police will strictly enforce quality-of-life laws, ticketing people who drink in the streets or commit other infractions."
Okay, my question: Why doesn't this happen all the time? It's like when it snows in D.C. and the federal government asks all "non-essential workers" to stay home. Why should there be any non-essential workers?
To me, John Edwards is pure phony-baloney, obviously in love with himself. But I wonder: Would I feel the same way if I shared his politics? I think so. I like to think so.
I find Dick Cheney utterly genuine, trustworthy, and admirable.
Would I think the same if I didn't share his politics? I think so I hope so.
On CNN (I think it was CNN), that Malveaux woman the glamorous one, not the one who wished for Clarence Thomas's death said, "President Bush laid low . . ." at the ranch. It is too much to ask people to say "lie low" and "lay low"; I'll even accept "lay low" and "laid low" as Americanisms; but we can mention it in Impromptus every now and then, can't we?
Speaking of Malveauxs Malveaux? I saw the wish-Clarence-Thomas-dead one, too. Live. In the flesh.
Up on the podium, Rep. Bob Menendez of New Jersey said, "As a Hispanic American, I can tell you this . . ." (and then he went on to say things having nothing to do with Hispanic Americanness). This is a reminder of what I find distasteful about the Democratic party. May it stay far away from the Republicans.
Also, Menendez said, "I look out at you and I see all the faces of America." All the faces of America? Really? Not right-of-harshly-left ones!
Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York declared Bill Richardson the "chair" of the convention and Ted Kennedy the "honorary chair." I swear, if I live to 200, I'll never get used to "chair."
Do Republicans do that, too?
Meeks also said that Democrats should fight to elect a Democratic majority in the House, making Nancy Pelosi Speaker and "proving once and for all that a woman's place is in the House!"
Um, aren't we a little beyond that? I mean, isn't that a little mid-1970s, Bonnie Franklin's show, and all that?
Heavens, the Brits elected a woman PM in 1979.
Saw Jack Welch in the Fleet Center. Have no idea what he was doing there. Looked very pink and very rich. If you can look rich, as you sometimes can.
In an excellent article on the Democratic delegates, the New York Times quoted one Sally LaSota: "Our troops are dying for what? For a new government? All of a sudden, we're running it."
She added, "Is it for oil, as everybody seems to think it is?"
I loved that: "as everybody seems to think it is." Certainly everybody dear Sally talks to!
Reminds me of our beloved Pauline Kael quote: "I can't believe Nixon beat McGovern. I don't know anyone who voted for him."
In that same Times article, we learned that "three-fourths of the delegates say abortion 'should be generally available to those who want it,' and only 2 percent say it should never be permitted."
I'm simply astonished: Two percent of the delegates oppose abortion altogether? Who are those people? Are they known to the other delegates?
Before I left New York, I observed a crystallizing scene in Central Park: One female jogger encountered two others whom she knew and she said, "I'm going to see Fahrenheit 11" that's what she said, "Fahrenheit 11" "at 12:05," and the other two joggers squealed, "Ooh," and they all hugged.
This is a funny moment in America, ladies and gentlemen.
In his column yesterday, Bob Herbert quoted Ted Kennedy: "I think you've got two strains in our society. One, sort of Horatio Alger-like, says I'm doing well and let me pick up the ladder after me. The other is more about community . . ."
How can someone so powerful and influential for so many years be so ignorant? I have a suspicion that Kennedy is not so much bad or dumb as . . . just ignorant.
I mean, does he have any idea what Horatio Alger means in American life? Obviously not.
It took Bebe Winans a while to sing the national anthem last night, but he did it fairly well, in my opinion. (And he took less time than Jose Feliciano, as I recall.) (Probably less time than Roseanne, too.)
Kerry doesn't want the label "Massachusetts liberal." But he is a Massachusetts liberal. What's wrong with that (if you hold that nothing is wrong with it)? George W. Bush is a Texas conservative. You don't hear the GOP saying, "Don't you dare call him a Texas conservative."
Why can't the candidates be what they are?
Oh, yeah, we know.
Terry McAuliffe took the obligatory shot at Halliburton, and even HMOs. Odd he didn't mention Global Crossing.
Something hilarious cropped up in Howie Carr's column. (Something hilarious always crops up in a Howie Carr column.) Carr writes of a contretemps between Kerry and Boston mayor Thomas Menino: "Menino did not appreciate being hung out to dry by his ostensible ally. 'If they ever name a street after Kerry,' said one of the mayor's allies at City Hall, 'it'll have to be one-way.'"
Gore made a little slip: instead of saying "narco-terrorism," he at first said "eco-terrorism."
I wouldn't have thought that Gore acknowledged the existence of eco-terrorism.
In the 2000 campaign, the appointment of Supreme Court justices was a big issue: because the next president would have the opportunity to name one, two, who-knows-how-many such justices?
Odd that W. hasn't had a chance to nominate a one. The man elected in 2004, however as Jonah Goldberg and I were saying yesterday will (probably) have a chance to name several.
So why hasn't this been a bigger issue thus far?
Can Barbara Mikulski talk without shouting?
I will leave the Clintons for later, and end on something light or rather, sweet. Folks, I know from ice cream. Believe me. Ice cream is my specialty more than politics or music.
And the product of the Boston Ice Cream Factory, at 777 Morrissey Blvd.? Never had better. Not anywhere in the world.