Conventional Notebook


Who's that in the shorts and polo shirt cruising around Philadelphia on a mountain bike? Not another ecocommuter. It's John Timoney, the police commissioner. Over the weekend, he rolled into Franklin Park where protesters were demanding "healthcare for all." He was soon spotted and confronted with a different chant: "Hey, hey, ho, ho. Police brutality has got to go!" Mr. Timoney took it all in stride. He smiled for the news cameras. But when protesters realized the commissioner was drawing attention away from them, they played the role of cop and politely asked him to move on. He complied.


Only one other person may be bursting with more kinetic energy than John McCain - his mother, Roberta McCain. Ask her about her famous son, and she answers as fast as that guy in the Federal Express ad: "Oh, I think he'd make a good president, with his experience and knowledge," she says outside a gym where the one-time GOP presidential contender campaigned for another candidate. But what she really wants to talk about is her trip abroad after the GOP convention. "I don't care about cocktail parties," she says. "All I'm interested in is art and architecture." Her select interests apply to local cuisine, too. In a city known for its cheesesteak, she arrives at a restaurant and says, "I want the biggest lobster in Philadelphia."


Contained in the "gift bags" GOP convention organizers handed out to the media: a red plastic cup from CNN, the "Limited Convention Edition" of Kraft macaroni and cheese - and a tiny copy of Dale Carnegie's "Golden Book." Among its rules: Don't criticize, condemn, or complain. Show respect for the other person's opinion. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing another's. It's unclear whether the advice was meant only for the press, or whether the politicians got their own copies.


Conventions usually abound with free food for the press. Not this one. Reporters who attended "walk throughs" in the spring at the Republican and Democratic convention sites noted a distinct difference. The GOP served up juice, coffee, and a Danish. The Democrats feted with a sit-down breakfast and a Martha Stewart-like lunch. Here, reporters are being charged two bucks for a soft drink and $3.50 for a hot dog. Wonder why there's a bias?

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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