I miss 'em. They were packed with twisted, fun, and interesting tidbits of geographical and cultural minutia that made them, in many ways, like a “National Geographic” prepared by and for idiots. Those of you preparing to labor through the Republican National Convention know exactly what I'm talking about — those great state delegate speeches of the 60's, 70's and 80's.
If you're a political junkie, don't pretend that you don't remember. I bet you can still picture an over-weight party boss from East Thyroid, South Carolina standing up on the convention floor surrounded by his painfully hung-over fellow delegates. You can see him as he squares his rounded, used-car-salesman shoulders and attempts to suck in his belly. You remember him mopping his damp brow (that would be a section of pink skin shining out from under a paper hat shaped like a buffalo skull or a garden squash) and casting the votes of his delegation for the party's nominee for president.
He would stand before the nation and plug his state's favorite cholesterol-loaded, grain-gobbling farm animal, oft-investigated Division 1 college team, or soon-to-be-obsolete manufacturing product as he counted out the votes of his delegation for the preselected professional hack who would carry the party banner into the next election.
I miss’em. The old rambling speeches are gone. Party conventions are now sterilized, pasteurized, scripted, homogenized, and sanitized in the name of artificial unity. The script managers and party bosses have muzzled Representative Billy Joe Cowpie and censored his floor speech and the convention process has suffered for it.
Old American politics always had the subtlety, class and grace of a 12-man professional wrestling tag-team match. We now have involved actual wrestlers, but it’s not the same. There was a time when The Rock and Jessie “The Body” Ventura wouldn’t be on the stage in a shameless ploy to attract the youth vote. They would be on the floor giving the “V-4” arm bar to some snotty representative of the credentials committee.
The old conventions were unseemly, long, messy and ultimately enjoyable. They symbolized the street-fight method our system of government uses to grind out our laws. Today's conventions even go so far as to schedule "spontaneous" demonstrations. You can tell when to cheer based on when they drop the red-white-and-blue balloons. The professionals have been boringly successful in cleaning up the best show in town.
The conventions, GOP and Democrat, will have all of the emotion, spontaneity, and true emotion of the TV reality show “The Bachelor”. There will be as much sincere, lately discovered love in that room as you would find in a by-the-hour room with a $10 hooker. Recent bloody combatants from the GOP primary circus will express so much newly felt trust and affection for the candidate that it will make you wonder if they are talking about a different Mitt Romney: “Mitt, remember all those things I said about you, your past, your wife, your record, your taxes, Romneycare, the economic failures in Massachusetts and your character? Well, never mind, I was just kidding.”
I’m not picking on the Republicans. Some of my best friends are Republican (well, some people I know, anyway.) The upcoming Democratic convention will be a little better in that we don't have to listen to former Obama primary opponents swallow their pride. OK, Hillary might have to, but she's done it before. Where the Republican convention will be as exciting as going to the prom with your sister, I'm sure that the prearranged Democratic crepe-and-bunting orgy will be as exciting as slow dancing with your spinster aunt.
Where is Richard J. Daley? Where are the security forces wrestling obnoxious newsmen to the convention floor? Where, for God's sake, is the loyal opposition — the people who keep the stuffed-shirt, back-room, cigar-smoking professional-ballot-box-stuffers in line or at least exposed to the light of day? Well, I'm still here and I miss those old days. I miss’em so much that I feel a need to hear them again. To show that I have no bias (at least where the conventions are concerned) this speech fits both the Democrat and Republican convention. Substitute the name of your party's unqualified candidate in the blank provided:
"The Chair recognizes the currently un-indicted representative from South Carolina."
"Thank you, Madame Chairman. The great state of South Carolina, the Palmetto State, the home of the first shots fired in the War of Northern Aggression; the home of the most unmarried pregnant females under the age of 14 and the home of the largest number of married females under the age of 13; the state that currently has a significant number of its state legislators and law enforcement personnel under criminal charges or actually behind bars; the proud home Strom Thurmond, may he rest in peace; the state that (based on end of year test scores) still spells potato with an 'E'; the state that celebrates pellagra and malaria as official state diseases; proudly casts its votes for the man who has done the least with the most, the man who will fail in almost every promise made to the American people, the man who promises to mortgage the future to pay for a bankrupt present, the man who is a resident of all states but a taxpayer in none. Yes, Madame Chairman, the Palmetto State, with hesitancy and a churning feeling in the pit of our collective stomachs, reluctantly and with no apparent reason or choice casts its 43 delegate votes for the man who may, if something serious isn't done soon, be the next president of the United States — FILL IN THE BLANK."
"Thank you, Mr. Cowpie. The Chair sadly records your 43 votes and commends you on the lovely roadkill possum hats that you and the rest of your delegation are wearing."
I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said - IF GOD HAD MEANT FOR US TO VOTE HE WOULD HAVE GIVEN US REAL CANDIDATES. I haven’t become quite that cynical, but it is getting harder and harder to fight the wave of nausea.