Kausfiles Special

Schmoozalist’s Notebook: L.A., Day 3

Despite predictions that the Democratic convention (and attendant demonstrations) might cause crippling gridlock, it has been easier to get around town this week than any time since … well, since the ‘84 Olympics, when similar fears of gridlock caused locals to stay at home, emptying the freeways. Convention organizers have made elaborate shuttle-bus arrangements, but on Tuesday my colleague Jacob Weisberg just drove to the convention hall and found an empty parking space right outside. (He thought it was too good to be true and went to a nearby garage.) …

Eager GOP buzz at last night’s glamorous George party: Gore’s actually down three points in the voter.com tracking poll! Even Clinton’s speech didn’t help! Voters in the Midwest “hated the walk,” the wacky Leni Riefenstahlesque run-up! Who does he think he is? Caesar? … Frank Luntz predicts the Republicans will win the White House but lose the House of Representatives. …

Nastiest buzz at the glamorous George party: Did Bush’s people leak news of McCain’s skin cancer to distract press attention from Gore’s big moment?

Best hygienic guerrilla marketing: Rubber mats in the urinals at Arianna Huffington’s Shadow Convention were embossed with a bull’s-eye, and the tag line: “The Star Wars Missile Missed Its Target. Will You?” … Meanwhile, at the Shadow “Rapid Response Panel” following Lieberman’s speech, The Nation’s Eric Alterman found himself on the wrong (i.e. right) side of the assembled masses in the audience, who objected vociferously to Alterman’s argument in favor of Gore over Nader. … I actually felt a rare burst of sympathy for Alterman. The running dog! …

After the panel, about half the crowd goes downstairs to hear campaign-finance-reform advocate Russ Feingold thank the Shadow Conventioneers for … well, for giving him a media platform beyond the wildest dreams of a mid-bench liberal senator who wasn’t on Gore’s VP list. … Feingold is preceded by a band, the Murmurs, whose appearance I dread. It’s a small space, and rock bands always play too loudly. Plus “campaign-finance rock” has never been a favorite sub-genre of mine.

Bizarrely, the Murmurs are wonderful! A coupla’ white chicks singing instantly likable, serotonin-boosting tunes. What more could you want? Equally bizarrely, I’m happy to leave after two songs. Something about the frenetic pace of conventions doesn’t allow for music appreciation. I now realize that I’ve blown off three good musical acts in three days. (The other two? 1) Bonnie Raitt at the demonstration in Pershing Square on Monday. She had some sort of Native American drummer with her and sounded fantastic. I left immediately. 2) Melissa Etheridge, whose music I normally detest, at the George party. Etheridge performed a short, emotional acoustic set and must have been stunned that most of the guests talked right through it.)

Have I mentioned that I was at the George party?

Please, please, please, please: Lieberman lost me last night with one word. The word was “please.” It’s one thing for Lieberman to suppress all his previous doubts about racial preferences and fall into line behind the Clintonian “mend it, don’t end it” approach. I can swallow that. I appreciate the need for party discipline. But it’s another thing for Lieberman to now pose as a passionate supporter of affirmative action, plaintively wailing “please don’t end it.” I’d thought the whole appeal of Lieberman that he was a principled maverick who had heretical views on subjects like race preferences. If not that, his unique selling proposition was surely that he was an authentic character, not a phony. But “please don’t end it” was inauthentic in a fairly fundamental way. It was made all the creepier by his general moralistic pose. … Memo to Lieberman: Please don’t “please” again!

[Where’s Day 2?–ed. D-g ate it!]