Normally, I wouldn’t proffer advice to the Democrats, but sometimes political differences have to be set aside in favor of humanitarian concerns. And, as a relatively good Samaritan, I can not witness such abject human misery and not try to lend a helping hand.

As I see it, in the aftermath of the president’s re-election, the Democrats have two choices. One, they can disband and try to come back with a new name, the way a certain musician did. (At the very least, they could provoke some media interest if they suddenly answered to The Party Formerly Known as Democrat.) Or, two, they could take my suggestion and revert to the good old days. Back then, the bosses of a few well-oiled machines such as Tammany Hall in New York, Jim Pendergast in Missouri, and Richard Daley and Jake Arvey in Illinois, would retire to the proverbial smoke-filled room, cut a few deals, and settle on a presidential candidate.

Then, the party fell prey to that most insidious of maladies – the reform movement. Overnight, the bubble-headed amateurs were running things. Convention delegates were selected with an eye on gender and racial quotas. Suddenly, the you-know-whos were running the asylum. And, predictably, they started coming up with the likes of McGovern, Mondale, Carter, Dukakis and Kerry. Candidates, for the most part, that only their mothers could love. Not since the Whigs has a party gone to such lengths to self-destruct.

I mean, who in his right mind in 2004 would have nominated a snobbish Brahmin married to a real life Cruella De Vil? To compound matters, whoever decided that Kerry would campaign as a war hero should be taken out and shot by Terry McAuliffe. If the decision-maker was McAuliffe, himself, so much the better. Really, what could James Carville and the rest of the party’s so-called brain trust have been thinking?

How could you possibly sell a guy who was a confessed war criminal as a hero? And then, for good measure, they tried to paint Bush as a traitor for not serving in Vietnam, conveniently forgetting that young liberals, in the hundreds of thousands, dealt with Nam either by running off to Canada, getting sympathetic anti-war shrinks to write notes claiming they were homosexuals, or by getting college deferments.

I, for one, never understood why being in college should have precluded a young man’s being called to serve his country. But, then, I also don’t get why this same draft-evader 35 or 40 years later feels he is entitled to question George Bush’s service in the Air National Guard. I guess there’s just no statute of limitations when it comes to hypocrisy.

Part of the Democrat’s problem is the primary system. For a year or so, eight or 10 candidates are forced to duke it out, each seeking to prove to the party faithful that only he is the true keeper of the liberal flame. But, comes the general election, and the victorious Leftie awakens with a major political hangover, for he must now try to convince the 60 percent of the country that despises liberal positions, that he was only joshing, and that he is (presto changeo!) – in spite of his 20-year voting record – a middle of the road moderate. Occasionally, especially when the Republicans nominate a particularly weak candidate, the Democrat wins, almost in spite of himself.

After all, only a political party that had gone off its meds would try to catch Jack Kennedy lightning in a bottle by twice in 16 years placing a Massachusetts left-winger at the top of the ticket, and actually expect to win a national election.

As a conservative, I know I’m safe in giving liberals this good, sound advice. After all, if they were smart enough to take it, they’d have been too smart to nominate the smarmy team of Kerry and Edwards … or, rather, Kerry, Kerry and Edwards, as I have no wish to slight Teresa Heinz-Kerry’s effect on the final vote count. There is, when all is said and done, a very good reason that the symbol of the party is a jackass.

As things stand now, the only way I can ever imagine a liberal getting into the White House again is as a member of a tour group!

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