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Jewish World Review July 27, 2000/24 Tamuz, 5760

Suzanne Fields

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Consumer Reports

The party of the aging Playboys -- THAT GRUMBLING you hear is from the reporters, correspondents, editors, pundits and other pontificators and maybe some of the delegates, packing their bags for Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The political conventions, drained of all drama and suspense, just aren't as much fun as they used to be.

But is that true? It may depend on how old you are.

Republicans in Philadelphia, for example, are big on celebrities who can charitably be called golden oldies. A celebration honoring Rep. J.C.Watts Jr. of Oklahoma features "The Temptations.'' Here's a few clues for Generation Xers: Think Motown, the first four-headed microphone and the tune "My Girl.''

Bobby Feller -- "Rapid Robert'' of the Cleveland Indians of the World War II era (and just after) will be in one of the party boxes at Veterans Stadium for a Phillies-Dodgers game. (I'm taking my baseball with the Lou Boudreau autograph to get another signature on it.)

The Old Geezer Chutzpah of the Season Award goes to the Democrats, and to Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who defeated Bob Dornan in 1996 (the aroma of the result can still be detected in her Southern California district after a hard rain). She will host a fundraiser on behalf of Latino voter registration at Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion. The veep, who, it says here, is big on feminism and the family, insists he won't go near it.

Some Hispanics aren't so happy about it, either. Corporate sponsors include distributors of beer, wine and liquor and the operator of a gambling casino. Says one critic of Sanchez, vice chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: "Sanchez's message seems to be that the way to energize Latino voters is with booze and slots.''

The Republicans, who are hustling to get a bigger piece of the Hispanic vote, have enlisted Hispanic youth choirs and Hispanic veterans to decorate their convention hall. "Could the differences be any more stark?'' asks Leslie Sanchez, deputy press secretary for the Republic National Committee, and -- she wants everyone to know -- no relation to Rep. Sanchez.

None of the Democratic feminists, of whom there are many, are hopping to get into the Playboy party. Gloria Allred, outspoken feminist lawyer, demands to know how the Democrats could put themselves in a position which exploits the abundance of female flesh.

"It's not just exploitive -- it borders on the pornographic,'' she says. Pornography, the Supremes (the court, not the singing group) have said, is in the eye of the beholder. And there, in the Democratic eye, will be the aging Hef, wrinkled and 74, in his red silk pajamas with his four new sweeties, Mandy and Sandy, who are identical twins, and Brande and Jessica, who are not. None of them are wrinkled and none of them are 74.

Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wants all the dough he can find in his quest to win back the House, but agrees that Hef's party strikes a bad public image for Al's party.

But maybe that image is more appropriate than he likes to think. It wasn't the Democrats, after all, who first grew concerned over "family values.'' Hef told his first editors at Playboy back in the buttoned-down 1950s that he didn't want them "marrying anyone and getting a lot of foolish notions in their heads about `togetherness,' home, family, and all that jazz.'' Hef was an aggressive defender of the president during that scandal over sex, lies, Monica and all that jazz.

The real message of Playboy, as Barbara Ehrenreich has noted in her book "The Hearts of Men,'' is not eroticism but "escape -- literal escape, from the bondage of breadwinning.'' Playboy fed on male fantasies of selfish indulgence, and when the male fantasy that permeated the culture insisted that manhood no longer required responsibility to a family, families across the spectrum of the economy suffered. The welfare state gradually assumed the role the father once enjoyed. At last we're trying to repair the damage, but we're still a long way from home.

There's something sad, even pathetic, about convention party-goers paying $5,000 to get into a party thrown by a tired old man hooked on Viagra, surrounded by the residue of five decades in the skin trade. Maybe Bobby Feller has enough left on his fastball, the one he blazed past all those White Sox, Yankees and Tigers in his no-hitters, to tempt me.


07/24/00 Hillary drives the Jewish wagon into a ditch
07/20/00 Conservatives gone fishin'
07/17/00: Snoop Doggy Dogg was a founding father, wasn't he?
07/13/00: When a teenager doesn't need a prime minister
07/10/00: Abortion as cruel and unusual punishment
07/06/00: Surviving 'survivor' TV
07/03/00: Independence Day with Norman Rockwell
06/29/00: Here comes 'something old'
06/26/00: Waiting too long for the baby
06/22/00: Good teachers, curious students and oxymorons
06/19/00: Wanted: Some ants for Gore's pants
06/15/00: Like father, like daughter
06/12/00: Culture wars and conservative warriors
06/08/00: Return of the housewife
06/05/00: Hillary and Al -- playing against type
05/31/00: The sexual revolution confronts the SUV
05/25/00: Waiting for the movie
05/22/00: Pistol packin' mamas
05/18/00: Journalists and the 'new time' religion
05/15/00: There's nothing like a (military) dame
05/11/00: 'The Human Stain' on campus
05/09/00: We've come a long way, Betty Friedan
05/04/00: From George Washington to Mansa Masu
05/01/00: Gore's ruthless doublespeak
04/28/00: Doing it Castro's way
04/24/00: Women's studies beget narrow minds
04/17/00: The slippery slope of anti-Semitism
04/13/00: A villain larger than life
04/10/00: When mourning becomes an economic tragedy
04/03/00: The last permissible bigotry
03/30/00: Seeking the political Oscar
03/23/00: The gaying of America
03/20/00: Pointy-eared quadrupeds on campus
03/16/00: The shocking art of the establishment
03/13/00: Sawdust on the campaign trail
03/10/00: Campaign rhetoric of manhood
03/06/00: The Amphetamine of the People
03/02/00: Elegy for Amadou
02/29/00: With only a million, what's a poor girl to do?
02/24/00: The changing politics of change
02/16/00: Tip from Hillary: 'Let 'em eat eggs'
02/10/00: No seances with Eleanor
02/07/00: Campaigning like our founding fathers
02/03/00: When neo-Nazis have short memories
01/31/00: George W. -- 'Ladies man' and 'man's man'
01/27/00: Dead white males and live white politicians
01/25/00: Smarting over presidential smarts
01/21/00: A post-modern song for `The Sopranos'
01/19/00: When personality is a long-distance plus
01/13/00: French lessons in amour --- and marriage
01/10/00: Reaching for the Big Golden Apple
01/07/00: Liddy Dole as the face of feminism
01/04/00: Hillary: From victim to victor
12/30/99: 'Dream catchers' for the millennium
12/27/99: In search of a candidate with strength and eloquence
12/21/99: The president as First Lady
12/16/99: Columbine with blurred hindsight
12/09/99: Homeless deserve discriminating attention
12/07/99: Casual censors and deadly know-nothings
12/02/99: Why mom didn't make general: A reality tale
11/30/99: Potholes on the road to the Promised Land
11/25/99: A feast for the spirit and the stomach
11/23/99: Fathers need to say 'I (can) do'
11/18/99: Adventures of a conservative pundit
11/15/99: Traveling with Jefferson on the information highway
11/11/99: Wanted: 'Foliage of forbiddinness' for the oval office
11/09/99: Eggs, art and rotten commerce
11/05/99: Al Gore, 'Alpha Male'. Bow wow.
11/01/99: Gay love
10/28/99: Lose one Dole, lose two
10/26/99: Rebels with a violent cause
10/21/99: Reforming parents, reforming schools
10/19/99: The male mystique -- he shops
10/13/99:The campaign of the Teletubbies
10/08/99: Money is in the eye of the art dealer
10/01/99: Lincoln's 'Almost Chosen People'
09/29/99: Introducing Bill and Hillary Bickerson
09/27/99: Must we wait for the next massacre?
09/24/99: Miss America meets Miss'd America
09/21/99: Princeton's 'professor death'
09/16/99: The Cisneros lesson
09/13/99: No clemency for personal politics
09/08/99: M-M-M is for manhood
08/30/99: Blocking the schoolhouse door
08/27/99: No kick from cocaine
08/23/99: Movies don't kill people
08/19/99: A rude awakening
08/16/99: Dubyah and that 'language' thing
08/09/99: Chauvinist sows -- oink oink

©1999, Suzanne Fields. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate