Campaign trails

ONE of the great mysteries for Republicans is why Democrats are always happy when they have so little to be happy about. To prepare for an election they go through roller-coaster primaries, verbally abuse each other, and hopscotch around from state to state as if they were running barefoot over hot sand. The one who gets battered the most seems the jolliest - Gary Hart hasn't smiled since he was a 2 percenter. They go through their exercises believing it's Ronald Reagan who is in trouble.

The Democratic primary is so rugged, Democrats don't need a convention. But they'll have one anyway because none of them want to miss a chance for more beat-up joviality and to act gleefully like that battered long-eared animal which represents them in the cartoons.

To follow a Democratic primary logically is impossible. Fritz Mondale has all the political assets. He has the bigwigs endorsing him. He has the blessing of Jimmy Carter's Southland. He is endorsed by labor, blacks, teachers' unions, and is the choice of the Jews as well as of women and farmers or any group identified as conservationist. Logically there is no one left to vote for Gary Hart or even Ronald Reagan.

Americans rarely vote for anyone they know anything about. They've gotten to know Fritz Mondale but they don't know anything about Gary Hart. It was much the same with Jimmy Carter. The most recent exception - Richard Nixon - started the search for unknown people.

In America candidates are elected by how well they can act on television. It is high time Democrats started practicing a jaunty walk to and from a helicopter if they want to beat Ronald Reagan.

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