LANGUAGE OF DISSENT
is a peculiar language and style to their brand of politics:
their vocabulary consists of only a very few words, all of
them epithets: basically "unethical" and "corrupt." They,
of course, are the embodiment of virtue, no doubt because
they have committed large sections of Robert's Rules of Order
to memory and have very loud voices everyone else is "corrupt."
It is a word they use so promiscuously that it has become
a kind of mantra, such as the followers of Pat's rival, a
Transcendental Meditator John Hagelin, might go into at the
drop of a hat. Buchanan has "stolen" the nomination, and is
"corrupt" therefore any tactic, including staged acts of
violence, is justified.
RUSSELL VERNEY GET ARRESTED?
Verney is trying desperately to get arrested, and before the
end of the Reform Party convention being held here in beautiful
downtown Long Beach at the Convention Center he just
might succeed. Verney, a heavyset red-faced kind of guy, with
a stentorian voice and the look of an old-time Tammany Hall
ward-healer, was once the national chairman of the Reformers,
but currently holds no official position in the party. However,
that didn't stop him from marching up to the entrance to the
National Committee meeting held Monday and loudly demanding
admittance: when told that only current members would be allowed
inside, Verney roared: "You're going to have to arrest me,
I am going in.'" He and his crew of heavyset red-faced clones
then got into a shoving match with the security guards, while
Jim Mangia was cheerleading on the sidelines: "This is illegal!
This is il-legal!" just in case the assembled reporters
missed the point. With this as their cue, less than a quarter
of the people in the room walked out, while Mangia ranted
to reporters in the lobby who eagerly scribbled down every
word of his diatribe. The group then was shepherded across
the street to a room that had been rented by Verney and his
wrecking crew well in advance, where they conducted their
own "National Committee" meeting at which Buchanan was purged,
John Hagelin proclaimed the candidate by default, and their
tiny group proclaimed itself "the true Reform Party" . . .
in the name of "democracy," of course.
all an elaborate fiction, of course, a morality play with
a legal theme that will eventually be played out Verney
hopes in court. But while it's on stage, this show has the
media mesmerized: the Long Beach Press Telegram lead
headline screamed: REFORM STORM! The Verney-Mangia show plays
into the Establishment's line on Buchanan and third parties
in general that they're irrelevant, the domain of kooks
and in any case not to be taken seriously which is why it
is getting such big play.
GOT THE POWER
and I arrived at the Convention center just in time to see
another Mangia command performance, as he stormed out of yet
another committee meeting Credentials, this time. He jumped
atop a chair or perhaps he carries a podium around with
him wherever he goes and projected his voice across that
cavernous space like a real diva: "I am now calling this meeting
of the credentials committee to order!" He then proceeded
to explain, in a very loud voice, why he and only he has the
power to convene a "legitimate" meeting. Yes, the Power
that is what the Verney-Mangia "Wrecking Crew" seem to be
all about, the ability not only to convene a meeting but to
command the attention of reporters at an event such as this.
But their act may be wearing just a little thin and will
in any case, close quite shortly if Tom
Edsall's piece in the Washington Post is any indication.
smear piece on Buchanan I dissected in a past column,
is at least not dumb enough to be taken in by the theatrical
antics of the Verney-Mangia Players and too discerning not
to be pretty bored with them by now. Edsall's piece gives
a pretty fair account of the petty factional and organizational
maneuvers engaged in by Verney-Mangia: essentially, their
strategy was to challenge the credentials of virtually every
Buchanan National Committee member, and thus disqualify them
from voting on the grounds that their participation wouldn't
be "ethical." When this didn't work, Verney and his pals walked
out. Edsall ends his piece on a revealingly ironic note: as
Mangia stands outside the meeting he just stormed out of,
he is confronted by a huge crowd of Buchanan delegates chanting
the ubiquitous slogan of the Brigadiers "Go Pat Go!!"
and suddenly he looks like exactly what he is: a very tiny
minority. But the seriously deluded Mangia is undaunted:
will convene the national committee at the Renaissance Hotel,'
Mangia shouted as he marched out of the Westin. Then, raising
his voice in an attempt to drown out the Buchananites chanting,
Go, Pat, go! Go, Pat, go!' Mangia screamed, Democracy! Democracy!
DOESN'T GET IT
media spin is that the Reform Party is a shambles, a completely
dysfunctional family of quarreling factions that couldn't
possibly challenge the two-party monopoly. After all, haven't
they split into two camps? Yeah, right over a thousand Buchananites
versus a few dozen super-"ethical" delegates. On Crossfire,
Bob Novak wondered how the party which is getting a few percentage
points in the polls could possibly split into two factions
isn't that bad? The correct answer is a flat no.
With Verney gone, set up in business as the chieftain of a
small sectarian cult-of-personality and that will no doubt
make him happy, at least for a while the Reform party
can now proceed to grow. The Verney show is just about over:
having walked out of the Reform Party, Verney has ensured
that the Buchanan camp will get that $12.5 million in federal
funds. And when Buchanan gets his hands on that rather measly
sum less than the amount spent by the taxpayers on either
"major" party convention it is going to be put to good use.
Verney & Company are in the process of being swept into
the dustbin of history and Buchanan is making history.
enough about pygmies like Verny: the real story here is what
is happening inside the Buchanan campaign. Their vice-presidential
candidate has been picked: a middle-aged man, who has been
in both major parties, and is now an independent: he's a commentator,
I'm told by an inside source, and a bit unexpected, I hear
and no, I don't know his name yet. But watch this space.
We're going to be the first with this breaking news. . . .
MAKE THE NEWS!
couldn't attend a convention like this without getting involved
I wear a delegate badge but flash my press credentials whenever
I really need access. I will be among the four or five delegates
who will give official nominating speeches for Buchanan during
the convention on Friday. If you're wondering why this whole
thing is important why the editorial director of Antiwar.com
is covering the Reform Party convention check it out. In
any case, aside from more coverage of the convention, you
can read it here. Pat is about to enter the room and make
some kind of statement, so I'm going to cut this short. Until
my next dispatch scheduled to be written sometime tonight
keep in mind that the real story of what is happening at
this convention is not likely to get out to the voters
unless, of course, they log on to Antiwar.com.