NEW YORK — It's the third day, and they should really be wrapping things up by now. After all, we're used to things coming in threes. At least, that's what my local multiplex has taught me. But, for some reason, the Democrats have decided to do in four days what they could have done in three. I suppose they needed the time to ensure that former Democratic presidential nominees George McGovern, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis were recognized, or that Democratic presidential candidates like Al Sharpton and Bob Graham would have their say.
To be fair, the Reverend Al gave a crackerjack speech - one of the few interesting highlights in an evening largely filled with dead air. So my attention really started to wander, especially during the first two hours of the convention, and I started thinking: what can I do to make sure that all the other television watchers for the last night of the convention - and for the Republican National Convention - can have a good time, even when the excitement isn't quite there. And so, without further ado, here are five political convention games you can play at home!
1. Outline your pitch for "Democratic National Convention: The Movie" or "DNC: The Mini-Series." I'll get you started. How about a romance blossoming between two of the delegates? Maybe between a young, star-struck Deaniac, still clinging to her tattered hopes of a strong presence of the liberal wing of the party, and a Kerry hack, hating himself for having openly guffawed when Dennis Kucinich came calling.
Will they run across the floor of the Fleet Center, blatantly disregarding the reasoned and dulcet tones of Bob Graham, and embrace to the muffled cheers and faint applause of the delegates of Wyoming? And will they have a child who will grow up to balance strong fiscal stewardship and commitment to free trade with social nets for the poor and unfortunate? For that, you'll have to wait for the sequel.
2. Play pundit at home. It's easy, and oh-so-much fun! There are a variety of games you can play to make yourself sound just like the people you hear on CNN - or better! Here's just one, something I like to call "pick the leading metaphor." That's where you take a random concept and try to shoehorn everything into it.
Take Shakespeare, for example: John Shalikashvili as Coriolanus, the old soldier who wants peace; Al Sharpton as Lear's Fool, the man in motley who speaks truth to power. Or the Bible: Shalikashvili again, or Steve Brozak as political Sauls of Tarsus, whose Republican scales have fallen from their eyes. Or even sports: pretty much anyone as Lou Gehrig, who stands before an adoring crowd and says how lucky he or she is to be here tonight, or John Kerry as the dogged but unbowed Seabiscuit overcoming insurmountable obstacles, like his apparent lack of appeal to actual voters.
Then try to fit every single thing you can find in the convention into that metaphor. Points are given for incongruity - "Jennifer Granholm sleepwalked through her speech ... just like Lady Macbeth!"
Given the rules of punditry, while you might think points should be taken away for repeating conventional wisdom ("John Edwards looks so young - will that make people think he's not qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?"), in fact double points are scored. Triple if you work in polling data.
3. Create your own convention speech. Start with a somewhat strained comparison between colonial Boston and the current presidential election. Throw in at least twenty mentions of the candidate, referring to him only - and this is important - as "John Kerry," not "Kerry." Then add any three of the following six phrases: "our troops," "restoring America's dignity," "war hero," "affordable healthcare," "it's time for him to go," and "anything is possible in this great country of ours." Mix well, stir, simmer at partisan heat for about three hours, and voila!
4. Get excited about the Edwardses. OK, this isn't really a home game, but it still might be more of a task than you thought before the evening began. Edwards said all the right things, and he said them pretty well, but expectations were so high that another version of the "two Americas" speech and a slightly hurried delivery means there's still work for all you out there at home. And if you're really looking for a game, then you might want to think about promotional strategies for Wendy's, which you know is going to capitalize on the free publicity Elizabeth Edwards gave them when she identified the restaurant where the couple spends their anniversaries.
5. Protest. Now, I know you're thinking - how is this a home game? Well, my understanding is that the protest zones are far enough away from the centers of the convention that if you want to protest, you might as well just do it at home and save travel expenses. Just make a sign, dress up, and stand in front of your television and scream at it. You'll feel better.
And if you're pretty happy with the party convention, then just protest stuff around the house. You might be surprised at how well signs like "MY CHILDREN DON'T WRITE" or "DOWN WITH NOISY NEIGHBORS" send a message. True, the message may be that you've been watching too much political coverage, but it's a message nonetheless.
I've got to stop writing now - I have a breakfast meeting with Ashton Kutcher. He wants to play John Edwards in "DNC!: The Musical."