Michigan Gov. John Engler was sent to S.F. What was the thinking behind assigning the Midwest's welfare-bashing father of triplets to Gomorrah by the Bay?
More curious, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (the man they kept in a closet in San Diego) was sent to the Central Valley. No plain-speaking, farm-state senator for California's cornucopia. Oh no. This party entrusts the one area that Dole must carry (and carry big if he has any hope of compensating for Clinton's strength elsewhere in the state) to the man with the highest negatives in the GOP.
Notably absent from the surrogate roster, of course, was our own convention spoiler, Gov. Pete Wilson. Now with Jack Kemp ahead of him in the year-2000 GOP pecking order, Wilson can only hope for disaster to strike this ticket so that his stand-alone pro-choice activism makes him the moderate alternative down the road. So far, he looks more like burnt toast.
If the GOP B-Team revealed more about the party's California calculations than its convention did, the state's delegation to the Democratic coronation in Chicago exposes a media vulnerability for the incumbents.
Picture it: hundreds of aging baby boomers gathering to recapture the spirit of 1968 ... by swaying to Crosby, Stills, & Nash, plus Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne, who are planning a little musical interlude. In the anti-tobacco, non-inhaling age, will the concertgoers still be allowed to flick their Bics? This could be problematic for Chief Baby Boomer Clinton, whose handlers want to prevent that spirit of '68 from putting his rightward tilt in too sharp relief. (After all, he agreed to sign major welfare cuts and the ban on same-sex marriages.)
But where will that leave the members of the California delegation who were also delegates to the '68 festivities? Among them are the Bay Area's Willie Brown, state Senate President Pro Tem Bill Lockyer, and Assemblyman John Vasconcellos. They won't need to worry about appearing too herbal for S.F., of course, but the rest of the country will be looking for them and their cohorts to keep their sideburns buzzed and their double-breasts buttoned.
S.F. X'd Out
Granted, we enjoy the Bay Area's putative uniqueness. But because our partisan leanings are considered utterly foregone, we don't even see the basic political ads broadcast elsewhere.
In San Diego, the Human Rights Campaign ran an ad with pictures of Bob and Elizabeth Dole (he having been previously divorced), Sen. Phil and Wendy Gramm (she being of Asian ancestry), and Virginia Lamp Thomas and Clarence Thomas (she being white, he being black) -- followed by a picture of a lesbian couple. "There was a time when some marriages would not have been accepted by some people in our society ..." ran the voice-over. "Why are Bob Dole and Congress wasting our time with new laws attacking gay relationships?"
Given Clinton's equivocation, it kind of makes you wonder what contorted symbolism the Democrats will employ to counter the Colin Powell flaunting of party stereotype. Our suggestion? Give a prominent podium spot to a real heartland girl ... Candace Gingrich.
By Susan Rasky