(Stowe, Vermont) When a mix of personal and professional responsibilities had me traversing the East Coast from D.C. to Vermont, I seized the opportunity to don the cloak of undercover investigative reporter and spy on the liberals who abound in these precincts, get an update on why Barry Goldwater wanted to saw off this part of the country and “let it drift out to sea”, and generally get some insights on why the Lefties in our dear country are so discouraged, depressed, confused and cantankerous.
So I said goodbye to my wife, sent loving e-mails to my children, packed a full suitcase of L.L. Bean gear, sharpened my grating Boston accent, dialed up my most reliable sources from back in the days when I—like Ronald Reagan—was a Democrat, and stowed my lucky “Ted in ’62” campaign button.
This awesome devotion to journalism would involve arduous duty like lurking the lobby of the Willard (D.C), leaning on the bar at Sardi’s (NYC), lunching at Locke-Ober’s (Boston), a farm show in Maryland, and best of all a Barney Frank rally in Newton, Massachusetts where I am a taxpayer in good- if unhappy- standing.
To further my research I promised myself I would watch MSNBC at least as much as Fox since Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow are as good a guide to the loony left as one could hope for. I faithfully read those other bastions of objective reporting- The Washington Post, New York Times, and Boston Globe, sampled lefty alternative papers- Boston’s Phoenix, NYC’s Village Voice and perused local sheets like Newton’s Tab or the Stowe Reporter. I even acquired a copy of Bob Woodward’s Obama Wars which every liberal seems to have in his briefcase these days.
A particular hour of illumination occurred when I visited my old home along the banks of Chesapeake Bay in southern Maryland’s Calvert County and attended an event that used to be a political “must” in my time as County Superintendent- The Fall Farm Exhibition. When I approached an elderly bib overalled farmer of my acquaintance and asked how my old Congressman Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was doing he laconically allowed as how he “hadn’t seen much of Steny lately-‘cept on television”. Amazingly other locals felt Steny might be in for a “surprise” come November.
I‘ve saved the best for last- The Frank Rally! Barely a hundred people there at the Community Center, but to my practiced eye these were “hard core” liberals. Twice I was asked “Who are you with?”, when I blurted out “Newton Taxpayer Association!” I was immediately the object of several suspicious gimlet eyed stares. During the informal coffee hour (darn I was expecting white wine and brie) that preceded Barney’s remarks I was tempted to approach him and say “ I knew you back in the sixties when you were the funny fat guy who worked for Boston Mayor Kevin White and I remember the night you Blank, Blank, Blank” but figuring I would probably get a visit from the IRS within 48 hours I opted instead to sit at the rear and take notes on the back of a hand-out I got at the door listing Barney’s fabulous accomplishments on behalf of his constituents( no mention of Fannie or Freddie however).
After Barney’s remarks making clear that everything wrong with the country was the fault of George Bush, greedy bankers, Rush Limbaugh and Fox news there followed a surprisingly contentious questions and answer session. Remarkably not one person expressed concern about Deficits, Debt or Spending. Two did speak against Obamacare, but only to insist, it didn’t go far enough, and was a failure because it lacked a Public Option.
After Barney rushed off to another event I stayed on and artfully engaged the Public Option advocate in some conversation by expressing concern at the prospect of losing so many Democratic seats.” Yes, we’ll lose a lot of seats”, he said, “but there is a silver lining”. He felt the Democrat party would be “purged” and “purified”. The losers would be those “spineless” Blue Dogs who had been such a “dragging anchor” on the Obama agenda all along.
So, there you have it. The true believing liberal knows November 2nd is going to be bloody, but he’s in denial about the reasons why. He thinks its bad people, not bad policies. The poor Blue Dogs are at least in touch with reality. They may be in the wrong party, but the true believers are in the wrong country.
William Moloney is a Centennial Institute Fellow, and former Colorado Education Commissioner. His columns have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Baltimore Sun.