Jewish World Review July 13, 2000 / 10 Tamuz, 5760
The general theme of the convention will be "Renewing America's Purpose Together." The Monday night theme will be "Opportunity With a Purpose." The Tuesday night theme will be "Strength and Security With a Purpose." The Wednesday night theme will be "Prosperity With a Purpose." The Thursday night theme will be "President With a Purpose." These themes were chosen, I assume, because the GOP's focus groups thought that "Pablum With a Purpose," "Vapidity With a Purpose," "Bloviation With a Purpose" and "Harrumphing and Bumphing With a Purpose" were too high-toned.
There are any number of ways that this thing could be made even a tiny bit interesting. One would be to replace "Purpose" With "Porpoise." I'm not sure which show I would rather watch, "Opportunity With a Porpoise" or "President With a Porpoise." I guess I would watch them both.
Another possibility would be a "Convention From the Heart," in which the Republicans would just go ahead and tell the American people what they really think. The Monday night theme would be "Hillary: Evil Socialist or Socialist Evil?" Tuesday night, running into the wee hours, would feature "Liberal Media Bias, the Complete Anthology." Wednesday night's show, "Impeach Him Again, Harder" would star the House managers, plus Johnny Chung and Juanita Broaddrick. On Thursday, the night of "My G-d, How We Loathe 'Em," the nominee, George W. Bush, would join his parents, George and Barbara, and his brother, Jeb, to give us all a peek at how the Bushes talk about the Clintons and the Gores when the help has the night off.
The nice people do not like it when you tell them that all is not nice. This the Republicans forgot in 1992 and again, to a lesser degree, in 1996. That year, the nominee Bob Dole, in a splendidly suicidal speech written by the novelist Mark Helprin, committed the greatest act of lese-majeste that could be imagined in the realm of nice. He told America that it was not--in its grossness, its selfishness, its decadence--nearly as nice a nation as it used to be.
Now, in keeping with their motto ("Fool me once, shame on you; fool me 103 times, shame on me"), the Republicans are determined to get with the story line. Mr. Card, briefing reporters Monday, announced that, this year, the GOP convention will not feature a night dedicated to whomping on the opposition. Just nice stuff. Stuff With a Purpose. Stuff people like: Opportunity, Prosperity, Strength, Security. I can't imagine what they're going to do with poor old Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich and Bob Barr and all the other fellows in the party who still enjoy a bit of nasty now and then. I suppose they'll treat them like smokers, and shunt them outside, where they will stand around in a sad little huddle by the fire-exit doors, saying things that are not nice, while the better people give them disapproving little looks as they walk by into the hall.
It's all very sad for those few of us who are still not as nice as we should be. And the really dispiriting thing is that it will probably work. George Bush, as it has become clear from the polls, does not have to do very much to convince voters that he is an acceptable alternative to Al Gore, who has turned out to be not as nice as we thought he was. Nicey-nicey should do the
07/06/00: The Importance of Being Earnest