Seven of the nine official Democratic aspirants for president gathered in Des Moines last weekend, at a town meeting sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). AFSCME boasts about 1.3 million members and is a big player in the Democratic primaries. The meeting was, predictably, an orgy of Bush-whacking. But, according to a Los Angeles Times report, only two candidates received standing ovations for their opening statementsAl Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich. If you AFSCME, that's the kind of news that will get a standing-O in any room full of Republicans.
As Christopher Flannery points out in the forthcoming Claremont Review of Books, thoughtful Dems have good reason to be unhappy about the fact that every four years they have to "turn to the far left of the FM dial and crank up the volume to reach the activist core of their party." When your CRB arrives in the mail, see his "No Limbaughs on the Left" for light-hearted reflections on why liberals are chronically depressed and conservatives are constitutionally chipper. If you're not a CRB subscriber remedy that now!
Speaking of standing-O's, that's just what New York Times reporter Chris Hedges did not get for his commencement address at Rockford College in Illinois over the weekend. His anti-war diatribe was repeatedly interrupted by boos and "Remember September 11!" chants. Some people broke into singing "God Bless America." His mike was cut off twice and his hosts finally had to escort him off the stage for his own safety. I heard a recording of the address, and it occurs to me that the students and their families were just bored to distraction. But, on the whole, Dylan seems finally to have got it right: "The times they are a-changin'."