Jimmy, Rosalynn, Ham and Jody, I am with you. If we are unhorsed or in any way damaged at this here Democratic jamboree, at least we can take comfort in knowing the job was perpetrated not by Caesar but by the Scribes and the Pharisees and not on the field of honorable combat but in stealth and by a sneaky blow to the lower lumbar vertebrae. For a good Baptist, can there be a more heroic way out? The name Carter will be reverenced in every bucolic metropolis in the land. His likeness will appear on all the dashboards of the faithful.
Rest assured I shall be at Madison Square Garden, shielded by a member of the League of Women Voters on either side. I expect the assembled delegates to maintain their customary shrill pitch. Not having lived through the French Revolution has always been a sore spot with me, but I make up for it by always attending Democratic conventions. The Democrats' proud declarations on behalf of the woebegone Americano, their remonstrances against the eastern bankers' exploitations and oppressions, their simple bravery as thousands of police and National Guardsmen stand by, glaring at the proceedings -- all combine to make these events the most thrilling democratic displays since the sacking of Versailles.
The fact that the saintly senator from the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts is now leading a resurrected and powerful contingent of Tammany Hall rascals lies heavy on my mind. Will his forces suddenly end their historic struggle for Liberte , Egalite and Fraternite ? Will Teddy order Arthur Schlesinger to turn out boilerplate denouncing reform and demanding a return to the wheeler-dealer conventions of yesteryear? The abomination has already commenced. Last week, Arthur was slandering the fruit of 35 primaries and 21 caucuses, and lauding the brokered conventions of Boies Penrose's day; and he did it in The Wall Street Journal, the capitalists' rag! It is a dark hour.
Teddy and the so-called liberals are attempting to boot the most morally upright president of all time from his own convention, justifying this foul degeneration in terms of high moral purpose -- are there no limits to the politicians' shamelessness? They blame our populist leader for ordering a "closed convention." They say he has denied the delegates the "right to vote their consciences." They cry "coercion." What does it all mean?
For one thing, it means that the rabble-rousing vernacular of the goody-goody liberals can be manipulated to further any grasping and dissembling purpose. And it shows once again how stupendously unfit these spoiled brats are for any public trust whatever. Without scruple or even much cleverness, they would again undo a sitting president. They would do it, disregarding its effect on our democratic institutions and oblivious to the bewildering effect it has on our allies.
Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination fair, square and in accord with the liberals' own progressive rules. He swept through primary upon primary. He broadened voter participation far beyond the squalid realms of the professional politicians. In fact, according to Time magazine, one of his delegates will be an 18-year-old graduate of East High School in Waterloo, Iowa. This lucky teen-ager went to a local caucus as a spectator and ended up a delegate. She now gets daily telephone calls from Teddy's and Jimmy's suave representatives. Unfortunately, her first concern is money, for she needs a whopping $1,200 for the big trip. Surely a patriot can be found with sufficient boodle and compassion.
There she will be sitting with her colleagues on the floor of a national convention, scrutinizing the qualifications of the candidates and the policies of the party. After all, is an 18-year-old not just as well prepared as anyone else to judge the ingredients of presidential greatness? Perhaps after the convention, the teen-age delegate will be asked to assist in choosing a few university presidents and some corporation heads. Ralph Nader would approve.
I should very much like to hear Jimmy Carter, leader of the free world and father of four, telephoning this delegate to ensure her steadfastness. Does he address her in the same way he addresses Amy or in the way he addresses one of his older boys? Does he assume the tone reserved for Cabinet members or visiting dignitaries? Why are there no White House tapes when we really need them?
For a generation, the ritualistic liberals have been insisting that credentials were not important in deciding the leaders of the republic. Now that our least qualified president of all is about to win renomination, they are hysterical. To prevent disaster, they must now make their case at a convention packed with dilettantes and political fanatics. My guess is that the teenager from Waterloo, Iowa, is where they should start. She is probably one of the best people on the floor and if her parents love her, they will get her home as soon as the debauchery ends.