The eve of the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles proved to be a summary moment in the politics of left-wing hypocrisy. Center stage was Jesse Jackson descending from his $2,000 a night presidential suite at the Santa Monica Loews Hotel to ... protest the anti-labor policies of the Santa Monica Loews Hotel! A multimillionaire from lifetime profits earned as a crusader for the oppressed, Jackson led demonstrators in a familiar chant of rebellion: "We the people, we the workers will win!" Later in the week as he moved to the Staples convention podium, the chant metamorphosed into "More Gore, more Gore, more Gore."
Another leader at the Sunday night protest was John Sweeney, the socialist head of the AFL-CIO and a key financial force behind Al Gore's "We're Fighting For You Against Them" campaign. Many of Sweeney's own union leaders are currently under indictment or in jail for illegally laundering nearly 1 million campaign dollars on behalf of the Clinton-Gore team. But this didn't prevent Sweeney from mounting the ramparts of self-righteousness to denounce Loews as a "corporation without conscience."
Sweeney was something of a moderate compared to another Gore fat cat, Gerald McEntee, who was also a speaker at the convention and a force behind the protest. McEntee is head of the government union AFCSME and a target of the money laundering investigation. He has become an increasingly familiar face as a prime-time ranter at the anti-globalization demonstrations in both Seattle and Washington, where he railed against putting "profits above people," resurrecting an old Marxist slogan. A fresher slogan that echoed the same sentiments on the streets of both party conventions was: "Hey, hey, ho, ho, private property has got to go!"
The labor dispute at the Loews Santa Monica pitted immigrant workers from Mexico and the Philippines against the giant hotel chain. The strikers claim that Loews is a union-busting corporation that denies its workers representation and a "living wage." In response, Loews put up $125,000 to place an initiative on the ballot that would forbid the City of Santa Monica from enacting a "living wage" law.
Why was Jackson in the hotel at all? For that matter, why was the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- the chief fundraising entity for all Democratic senatorial campaigns -- also headquartered at the Loews? Why didn't they leave the moment they knew the dispute was brewing?
The answer is that while Al Gore is positioning himself as a champion "for the people and against the powerful," Gore's close friend, key funder and longtime "kitchen cabinet" member, Jonathan Tisch, is the CEO of the Loews Corporation.
In the last three years, Tisch has personally given Democrats $335,500 in soft money contributions. (Two Tisch-owned companies gave another $290,000 to the Republicans.) Tisch personally gives hard money contributions at $1,000 a shot exclusively to Democrat candidates with only one exception -- a Republican who sits on a committee affecting the entertainment industry. (Jonathan's brother Steve is a film mogul at Universal.) Among the Democrats Tisch funds are Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Charles Robb, Mary Landrieu, Christopher Dodd, Bob Kerrey, John Kerry, Charles Schumer, Tom Daschle, Byron Dorgan, Robert Torricelli, Barbara Mikulski, Charles Rangel, Eric Vitaliano, Nita Lowey, Jerry Nadler, Patrick Leahy, Robert Wexler, Bob Graham, Harry Reid, Shelley Berkley, Jonathan Miller, Mel Carnahan, Carolyn Maloney, John Tanner, Jon Corzine, Sam Farr, Thomas Carper and Robert Weygand.
Jonathan is not the only Tisch who gives to Democrats, moreover. The Tisch family's political contributions fill up 25 pages of Federal Election Commission reports. In addition to Jonathan, there are Alice, Andrew, Bonnie, Daniel, James, Joan, Laura, Larry, Merryl, Robert, Steve, Tommy and Wilma Tisch. In addition to Jonathan's Democrats, the siblings give to Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, Sam Gejdenson, Fritz Hollings, Diane Feinstein, Joe Biden and Tom Harkin, among others. (Two or three Tisches also give to Republicans.) And to square their liberal circles, they give both to Emily's List and the tobacco lobby.
The Loews Corporation is a $60 billion holding company controlled by the Tisch family, which owns (in addition to the hotels) CNA Insurance, which is Big Insurance heavily invested in the healthcare industry; Diamond Offshore Drilling, which is a company that supplies oil rigs to the offshore oil industry; and P. Lorillard & Sons, the tobacco giant that makes Kent cigarettes whose filters have contained heavy doses of asbestos, so that the company has had to settle several lawsuits of workers who died from exposure.
Of course Gore doesn't need the Tisch family to score the contradictions. As protesters outside the convention will not let him forget, Occidental Petroleum made the Gore fortune and is presently engaged in drilling the rain forest burial grounds of the U'wa Indians with Gore's blessing. Back in Tennessee, a zinc mine Gore acquired under sweetheart terms from Occidental Petroleum has been tagged three times by the Environmental Protection Agency for polluting the Caney Fork River in the Cumberland Valley. "It takes somebody who is independent from Big Oil to take on Big Oil," Gore said to the Washington Times back in June. Apparently it does.
All this might matter less if Gore hadn't chosen to define himself as a populist crusader leading the fight against big oil, big insurance and big tobacco. "They're for the powerful and we're for the people," he said in his nomination acceptance speech. "We need to give the medical decisions back to the doctors, and take them away from ... the insurance companies.
"Behind the flashing [Bush] video is an agenda of rising gas prices and smog-filled skies that is of Big Oil, by Big Oil and for Big Oil."
One never knows, however. All this hooey might make sense to a campaign finance reformer who has flouted the existing campaign finance laws, taken foreign donations from Buddhist nuns and is currently raising record dollar amounts in soft money for his own "populist" run.
But how different is the phony leader from the foot soldiers assembled in the Staples Center to anoint him? At the Los Angeles charade, speaker after speaker touted the Democrat gathering as a convention of the people that showed the "real face of America." This was a not-so-subtle dimarche to the Republican "show convention," which they claimed was a purely "cosmetic" effort to pretend that Republicans were inclusive and cared about America's minority communities.
"Let's be honest about, this," lied Joe Lieberman. "We may be near Hollywood tonight, but not since Tom Hanks won an Oscar has there been that much acting in Philadelphia." In other words, when Republicans are inclusive it is just to hide their white sheets while they are in front of the cameras. So the principled Lieberman has now joined the ranks of the racial McCarthyites.
In fact, the Democrats in Los Angeles were themselves not who they claim to be. A New York Times survey of those attending showed that the delegates were well to the left of the American people, and even the Democratic Party itself. Thus 86 percent of the delegates to the Democratic convention, including Gore, oppose vouchers that would let the poor rescue their children from failing schools and send them to private school like Al Gore Jr. But only 54 percent of voting Democrats agree. Meanwhile the general voting public is split on the issue 47 to 46 percent. At the same time, 60 percent of African-Americans, across class lines, support vouchers.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Democratic delegates were also far wealthier than most of the people (57 percent had incomes over $75,000) and far more of them are members of unions (31 percent). They were also more African-American (by 80 percent) and more Native American (by 30 percent) than the general population. (Who knows how many of them were Armenian, Russian, Arab, Jewish, Polish, or take your pick of any non-politically correct category, since our left-wing media can't be bothered to ask about such "over-represented" groups.)
This ethnic distortion is explained by the fact that the political mentality of the Democratic Party is now so rooted in the discredited past that it has a rigid racial and gender quota system for delegates. How rigid? A black female delegate from Mississippi was denied a seat because the quota for women had already been exceeded. As if to underscore the unseemly irony of liberals' 180 degree about-face on civil rights since the 1960s, the woman in question had been one of the original Mississippi Freedom Party delegates who, in a legendary moment of the civil rights struggle, were denied seats at the 1964 Democratic Convention simply because they were black.
The Democratic Party is now a party of the last century (or perhaps even the previous one) -- a party of racial quotas and racial preferences, of class warfare and impossible socialist dreams. As Jesse Jackson said, on the second convention night, it's not just about race or gender; it's about "redistributionism."
On the final night the leader himself mounted the podium, mentioned Bill Clinton just once and then rejected the entire Clinton legacy -- the good along with the bad. Goodbye to the New Democrats, triangulation and a party willing to embrace Republican programs in order to preside over a boom that old-fashioned Democrats would have called "a Decade of Greed," the way they did the Reagan boom of the '80s.
The sum total of Gore's Big Speech, in fact, was that McGovern-Mondale liberalism is back, class warfare is back, Big Government is back, and no article of leftist faith -- racial quotas, unlimited abortions, support for bankrupt government school monopolies -- will go unchampioned. This, in a new century that is looking backward on the ruins of the socialist schemes of the last. This, to an America, half of whose citizens are invested in the stock market and expect one day to be in the brackets that Gore wants to tax even more. This, to a people that is weary of division and partisan warfare and that wants to elect a party that will govern its prosperity and keep the profits flowing. Gore called the speech he wrote "A New Journey." A better title would have been "Back to the Future."