The Democratic National Convention starts tonight in Denver. I said in my post, It’s My Blog’s Birthday!, that the Democratic conventions don’t thrill me as much as the Republican ones. I’m sure this puzzles a lot of people, including yours truly (who doesn’t understand half of his emotional reactions to things). After all, the Democratic conventions are probably the most noteworthy in American history. You have William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech. There were the riots at the 1968 convention in Chicago, in which Dan Rather got ruffled, and Mayor Daley had a smug look on his face, while his cops beat up on anti-war protesters. Then there was the one in 1996, when we found out that Clinton aide Dick Morris was paying for the services of a prostitute.
But the Republican ones are much more fun! Only they would allow someone as colorful as Pat Buchanan to speak on the stage (even though he was axed after 1992).
The first Democratic convention that I watched was in 1988, when I was starting to become interested in politics. I clenched my fist when Ann Richards proclaimed, “Po’ George–he has a silver foot in his mouth!” Well, at least George, Jr. showed her who’s boss in 1994!
Then, there was Barbara Jordan, a sweet, grandmotherly, African-American lady who seemed to be the respected matriarch of the event. She reminded me somewhat of my own great-grandma. And I liked it when she addressed the delegates as “Democrats.”
There aren’t too many defining moments that stand out to me in these conventions, but here are some that come to mind:
1. I was watching the movie George Wallace, in which Gary Sinise played the controversial segregationist governor (or Guvnah) of Alabama. It presented Wallace speaking at the 1972 Democratic National Convention, saying, “Why do we send foreign aid to every country from A to Z, when they oppose us on the Vietnam War.” “Good question,” I thought. But I was surprised that he was speaking at McGovern’s convention–you know, anti-war radicals, pot-smokers, socialists. You get the picture! And, not surprisingly, they were booing him.
2. Al Gore’s speech in 1992 comes to mind. It was actually quite good, and I was somber when he talked about his son being hit by a car. Over time, I came to regard such anecdotes with more cynicism, especially when I discovered that Gore received lots of money from tobacco companies, after telling touching stories about his sister dying of lung cancer. Plus, Democrat after Democrat seemed to act as if suffering a personal tragedy made them qualified to lead the free world. Believe me, I feel for them, but aren’t they exploiting their tragedies for political purposes? But I guess there are other ways to look at this issue!
3. I remember Bill Clinton’s 1996 speech. I could tell he was going to win when he said (my paraphrase): “Bob Dole talked in his speech about a bridge to the past. I want to talk to you about a bridge to the future.” Smooth! Also, I liked it when he was talking about charter schools, and the teacher’s union people didn’t look too happy when they heard about that! The audience in general had puzzled looks on their faces! But Bill Clinton wasn’t just speaking to them. He was trying to convince us–the American people–that he wasn’t your typical leftist ideologue.
4. I remember the one in 2000 when Al Gore’s daughter was speaking. She was talking about how her dad liked Star Trek and welcomed her and a friend to the house for hot cocoa after they returned from a fantasy eskimo expedition (the details are fuzzy to me!). Then, Al Gore came out to hug his daughter, a few days before he was scheduled to speak. The goal of all this was to make Al Gore look a little more human and a little less robotic. And it worked. I actually liked Al Gore at that moment!
5. Overall, the Democratic National Convention is a little scary to me. These are people who don’t believe the same way I do, and their goal is to bash my heroes day-in and day-out. I mean, how many “potatoe” jokes did we need to hear in 1992? I don’t feel at home when I watch their conventions–that’s what I’m trying to say. But that changed a little in 2004. I turned on my radio to listen to Sean Hannity, and he was actually at the Democratic convention! He was grilling Democratic celebrities, and receiving all kinds of abuse from people on the floor. He was even ready to go against Martin Sheen, who played a know-it-all liberal President on the West Wing. Later that evening, Laura Ingraham was at the convention! It was amazing! I was comforted. It’s like going into a scary social situation, and seeing you have a friend there.
Enjoy the convention! I’ll write some posts if anything interesting comes up, which is always possible, even for this convention.