All this conventioneering has put me in a nostalgic mood. It was twelve years ago last month that I made my debut on National Review Online with "Among the Lunatics: an undercover cop's Democratic convention diary."
My assignment was to circulate among the throngs of protesters with the aim of discerning who among them might be prone to criminal mischief. A small sample:
Monday, August 14
The convention opens. Several marches have taken place before I arrive at the protest zone: Naderites protesting the Green-party candidate’s exclusion from the debates; environmentalists; “corporate greed” protesters; advocates of “indigenous peoples.” All of them mill about handing out their literature, the volume of which must surely have caused the demise of an entire forest. A huge puppet of Ralph Nader is oddly more lifelike than Mr. Nader himself.
Wednesday, August 16
The August 21 issue of Newsweek arrives in the mail at home. On its cover is a photo of Al Gore and Joe Lieberman smiling with all the sincerity of used car salesmen trying to unload a ‘71 Dodge with a crankcase full of sawdust. The sound I hear is that of thousands of undecided voters jumping off the fence and into the Bush camp at the sight of that picture.
I again make the mistake of turning on the news and am greeted by the jarring image of Ted Kennedy and Rob Reiner reading from a picture book to a group of preschoolers — some of whom seem to be asking, “Why are these two fat guys talking to us like we’re idiots?” Kennedy later incoherently addresses the California delegation. Then, while being led away like a circus bear, he is asked if the Democratic convention is more fun than the Republican one. “Democrats have more fun,” he says. Well, sure, Democrats who happen to be Kennedys certainly do, if at the occasional expense of a young woman’s life.