The lights have been shut down in San Diego and Bob Dole has set out to conquer America. The convention has been called a big success and I suppose that's true, if you equate success with keeping a firm handle on how things go. With the lack of surprises expected, I suppose it went about as well as it could.
I watched much of the proceeding with my prime political advisor, my parakeet Spike. We both kicked back, I with my coffee and high-fat snacks and Spike with his favorite bird seed and a bowl of his most beloved beverage, and dug the non-happening with semi-interest. That was about the best either of us could muster.
I've never really known what Spike's political leanings are, frankly because I've never asked him. I do know that he doesn't like the fact that thinking, talking birds aren't allowed to vote, although he perfectly well understands that a sparrow has no business casting a ballot. And he's tickled pink that the eagle is our national symbol, although he would have been just as happy if the founding fathers had taken Ben Franklin's suggestion and made the turkey the national bird.
"Turkey's rule, they're cool," said Spike. "Man, they get a bad rap at Thanksgiving, though."
Spike and I both thought Elizabeth Dole did a good job. She came off like a nice candidate's wife, all sweet and sincere. It was hard to believe that such a nice lady has headed up government departments, something they'd probably just as soon we forget. I'm sure they wouldn't want anybody to think she was ambitious, or had anything in common with Hillary Clinton.
"Who is this Bob Drool fellow?" Spike asked. His ears really aren't very substantial and he frequently misunderstands things. I explained who Dole was supposed to be. Spike wasn't real impressed.
"He reminds me of a crow I used to know," said Spike. "Sucker got hit by a truck while he was pecking at a flat possum on the highway."
"I don't think Bob likes road kill," I told Spike. "Well, maybe if it came from Arkansas."
After a while, I thought I was hearing odd things myself. Jack Kemp was speaking and every once in a while a chant went up from the crowd. It sounded as if everyone was saying "Go Shemp." Spike noticed it too.
"Who's Shemp?" he asked.
He was one of the Three Stooges at times," I answered. "I don't know why the crowd would be yelling for him, they already have two stooges, and three if they count Gerald Ford . And besides, Shemp is dead."
Spike cocked his head and listened closer. "No, I think they're saying 'Grow Hemp,' that's what it sounds like to me," he said.
"These are Republicans, I doubt they're calling for anybody to grow hemp," said I. "Now, if that cry arises at the Democratic convention I wouldn't be surprised."
"What's hemp?" he asked.
"It's stuff you make rope from," I replied. I didn't want to give Spike ideas, he's a handful as it is.
We finally figured out that they were talking about Jack Kemp. Maybe they were trying to extort him to toss another make-believe pass into the audience, to pretend that he was still a youthful quarterback with the Bills, instead of a 61-year-old dude playing second fiddle to Dole.
As for Dole, he seemed ready to do a lot of wonderful things for his fellow Americans. I'm just glad he didn't say we would all have two chickens in every pot, because that would have caused Spike to think our Republican candidate believed in genocide. Spike already believes every cat in the nation should be rounded up and put to death.
"What I want to know is, why hasn't this guy done all this stuff before now?" asked Spike. "He looks like he's been around for a while."
"That's a good question, Spike. But the truth is, he just hasn't had time. He's only been in government 35 years, you know. He's just hitting his stride now. And really, they're never absolutely sure of what it is they want to do. If they're in Congress it's one thing, and then again if they're running for president it's something else."
"Don't sound like much of a system to me," Spike noted.
"Well, it's the best we've got. It's called going with the flow."
I made up my mind last Thursday evening that I wasn't going to let Spike watch the upcoming Democratic convention. He's one disillusioned bird at this point and if he sees Bubba Clinton and Crew carrying on in Chicago it's going to warp his little mind forever. He almost got himself killed this weekend when he tried to con a stray cat into believing he was a big feline admirer. I've had to keep him in lock-down since. There's no telling what kind of evil mental pollution the Democrats might lay on him.
"Man, I was just doin' like that old crow guy," Spike whined when I gave him the news. "It ain't lying if you're politickin'!"
Matter of fact, I'm tempted to skip Chicago myself. But it might be uplifting to learn that I've got it so much better than I thought I did. And, if the going gets too weary, I can always pull a Ted Koppel and fade away into the night.
I remember the last Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968. There were massive riots between anti-war protesters and Chicago's finest. A lot of people, including the elderly and journalists, wound up getting clubbed and tossed through plate glass windows.
People are too apathetic today to get that involved even if we had a Vietnam. Many don't care who wins or who loses, because the game continues the same way regardless. We might have had a chance, but alas, Shemp deserted us. The stooges we're left with aren't nearly as amusing.
[back button to return]