Walter Mondale is generally considered the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. He also claims the title of the ''Real Democrat.''
He is endorsed by all the bigwigs of the Democratic Party; he is endorsed by Big Labor and other self-assertive groups, and he has raised the most money for campaign funds. But most of all, when you close your eyes, his voice sounds like Hubert Humphrey.
If all this doesn't make him the ''Real Democrat'' then Mickey wasn't a real mouse.
The only other contender for the ''Real Democrat'' is John Glenn, even though when you close your eyes while he is making a speech he sounds like Julia Child.
The ''Real Democrat'' contest would be settled by now, if only John Glenn would play fair. But he keeps acting as if he were the front-runner. He gets away with it because he is a hero.
He is not only a real-life hero, he is also a hero in the way that counts: in the movies. We refer to the big movie, just produced, called ''The Right Stuff, '' in which the part of astronaut Glenn is played by an actor named Ed Harris.
There is something Reaganesque about all this. Ronald Reagan wasn't a real hero, but he played the part of a hero in the movies. John Glenn is a real hero, but another actor makes him a hero in the movies. The average American can no longer tell the difference. In the end it will probably be the movie ''The Right Stuff'' that will make John Glenn a hero, and not any alleged flight around the earth.
No one can tell whether anyone is a real hero or not unless it is verified either on television or in the movies, so this puts John Glenn and Ronald Reagan in the same category.
As a result, John Glenn has the best chance of being elected, whether he is the ''Real Democrat'' or not.
Unless, of course, actor Ed Harris gets elected president.