Albion Monitor /Commentary

Best and Worst of Conventions '96

by Jack Breibart

(AR) Four days in San Diego. Four days in Chicago.

We never saw their likes before. We may never see their likes again.

Political leaders are talking about two-day events in 2000. That should cut the repetition of speeches in half.

The media is talking about trimming back their coverage. That should bring down the number of journalists whining about no news from 15,000 to 7,5000. And most of these will be TV and entertainment critics.

In 2000, the real Oprah Winfrey will stroll among the delegates, proving once again that Ross Perot is right. "All politics," he says, "is acting."

Looking back on the past two weeks of whines and poses and some rousing political theater in and outside the arenas.

Most Eloquent Introduction: Senator John McCain on Bob Dole: "Others may offer you sound bites and showmanship. But Bob Dole offers you leadership -- leadership evident in the stature of a man who risked his life for love of country and considers service to America his honor."

Best Performance Off the Podium: Elizabeth Dole

Best Performance On The Podium: The Al Gore Macarena

Best Told Personal Stories: Tie -- Jesse Jackson's account of how his father went off to war, thought he had won it, only to come home to the indignity of segregation. Bob Dole's remembrances of how his family moved to the basement of their home so the upper floors could be rented out.

(Are these stories really true? Where were those "Nazi war criminals" going on Jackson's father's train, which was headed South? Were the Doles cooler in the basement during the Summer?)

Worst-Told Personal Stories: Tie -- Susan Molinari's great-grand- father's barber shop and Bill Clinton's brother's triumph over drugs.

Best Chance For A Movie: -- "Bridge to the Past," starring Lloyd Bridges as Bob Dole. "Bridge to the Future," starring Beau Bridges as Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

Words Which Should Be Banned For 18 Hours: Dream, children, child, crime, bridges, 21st Century, village, family, tent (big and small), future.

Words Which Got Short Shrift: Abortion, immigration, entitlement.

Names That Got Short Shrift: Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter.

The Andy Warhol Moment: Michael Dukakis and George McGovern sitting in the gallery of United Arena, deep in conversation and eating peanuts.

Rising Stars: Democrats: Congressmen Jesse Jackson Jr. and Patrick and Joseph Kennedy 2nd. Good blood. Republicans. Congressman J.C. Watts. The former University of Oklahoma quarterback talks Jack Kemp's language.)

Most Tears Shed Be Delegates In One Night: First night of Democratic Convention.

Worst Timing: Tie: President Clinton in a jovial, ebullient mood being flashed on the giant screen from his train stop seconds after the the delegates were emotionally drained by actor Christopher Reed's moving speech.

Best Timing: Rupert Murdoch's double-barreled blast in the New York Post and the Star on the Dick Morris incident the morning of Clinton's acceptance address.

Best Gimmick*: The seconding of Bob Dole's nomination by two teenagers in his hometown of Russell, Kan. to the cheers of the townspeople. The Heartland celebration was flashed by satellite on the big screen in San Diego.

(*Elizabeth Dole is allowed only one award.)

Good Quotes: David Gergen, former White House adviser to both George Bush and Bill Clinton, on Clinton's acceptance speech: "I thought it was going to last until the 21st century."

Jack Kemp, when asked if had read the GOP platform: "No, I haven't. But I haven't read Sports Illustrated this week either."

Tom Brokaw after Jesse Jackson's fiery speech: "The Lion can still roar."

Best Inside Information on The Dick Morris Story: Hugh Davis of the London Daily Telegraph: "His downfall came after he tried to impress the $200-an-hour prostitute, Sherry Rowlands, first with his wit (he liked to perform a version of "Popeye the Sailor Man" in his underpants) and then with the fact that he knew President Clinton like a brother."

Jack Breibart is a former assistant managing editor/news for the San Francisco Chronicle

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Albion Monitor September 2, 1996 (

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