Sunday, August 20, 2000

Bubble bursts as Dems leave LA

        As the Democrats drifted back from a convention of cloudless skies, $50 cab rides and elbow-rubbing with the likes of John Travolta and Tommie Lee Jones, they will find one simple truth: Hollywood is a lot more hospitable to Democrats than Green Township is.

        They'll find more friends on Rodeo Drive than on Werk Road.

        Being a delegate at presidential nominating conventions these days, with their choreographed stage shows and carefully vetted speeches, is like being in a bubble world.

        You have constant stimulation but you are only vaguely aware of your surroundings.

        The first night of the Democratic National Convention, after Bill Clinton made the baby-boom version of the MacArthur “old-soldiers-never-die” speech, thousands of delegates spilled out on to the streets around the Staples Center, totally unaware that in the protest pit a block or so away, protesters were tangling with cops and the scent of tear gas was in the air.

        Most of them read about it in the newspaper the next day.

        Conventions are not the place for cold, hard reality; people there exist in a exist in a bubble of positive message and appealing images that block out reality.

        The same goes for Republican conventions.

        What is real is being a Cincinnati Democrat and getting off a cross-country flight at the airport with your Gore/Lieberman signs and souvenirs and suddenly realizing that you live in a Republican boot camp.

        Rest assured that Jim Trakas, who has the daunting task of being the Republican party chairman in heavily Democratic Cuyahoga County, had the same feeling when he stepped off the plane from Philadelphia a few weeks ago.

        And nearly everyone who came back to Ohio from Los Angeles, once they had cleared the L.A. smog from their heads, understood that this will be war.

        Al Gore is behind in Ohio now, but most believe by single digits, and the Democratic nominee and/or his running mate will likely be in Ohio at least once a week between now and the election. Same goes for George W. Bush.

        In most statewide races, the great mobs of Democrats in Cleveland, Toledo, Akron and Youngstown are canceled out by the masses of Republicans in places like Green Township, Delhi, Sycamore, Symmes and the string of suburbs around Columbus.

        That means Ohio will be decided by the 20 percent or so of the electorate that the pollsters call the “swing voters,” independent-minded and unpolitical people who are barely tuned in yet to what is going on in this race.

        The race for Ohio will be an all-out war; and it will be decided by the non-combatants.

        They'll be the ones sitting in front of their TVs watching the presidential debates with their arms folded across their chests.



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