The Democrats have the market cornered on moaning

Mike Royko

July 15, 1992|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tirbune Media Services

The Democratic Convention, lacking a contest or suspense, could be held in one day. Or even a couple of hours.

What's there to do, really? The candidates get nominated. They make their windy speeches. Then they stand next to their wives and wave and smile. And everybody cheers and goes to the hotel bars to get zonked.

But that would deprive the Democrats of a chance to fulfill the real function of a Democratic Convention. And to do what Democrats do better than anyone else.

And that is to moan, moan, moan.

To do a thorough job of moaning takes more than a few hours, or even one day. And even four days is barely enough. So many who wish to moan, so much to moan about, but so little time.

Even before the convention opened, Jesse Jackson was said to be moaning to anyone he could corner. He is unhappy because he is not being given the respect, awe and admiration due a non-candidate and talk show host with puny ratings.

Jerry Brown, the born-again reformer, is moaning because he hasn't been offered a chance to preach to the convention about casting out the demons of fund raising, influence-peddling and deal-making he used to excel in, and his new-found spiritual joy in snoozing in a homeless shelter instead of a $300 hotel suite.

But Jackson and Brown are only the ego-driven prime-time headline moaners. Waiting behind them are the lesser-known rank-and-file moaners, who must be given their allotted time to moan about the poor, the middle-class, the downtrodden, the hungry, the homeless, the jobless, the voiceless, the faceless, the eye, ear and noseless.

And there are the overworked and underpaid teachers, the undertaught students, the plights of the inner cities, the plights of the gays, the plights of the young, the plights of the old, and the plights of women whose bodies have been invaded by foreign tissue that Clarence Thomas, the insensitive hulk, doesn't want them to expel.

They could probably save time by combining all the plights and woes into one big woe-plight and joining hands and having, say, 30 minutes of collective moaning. A grand chorus of moans.

But then there would be moaning from those who say that their moans were being drowned out by all the other moans, and that in an open, democratic process, each and every moan deserves to be judged on its own merits. So we must have solo moaning.

This is why the networks have done away with the old gavel-to-gavel coverage of conventions. They are in the entertainment business, and they know what the audience wants. It wants to laugh, or gasp in horror, or be titillated. So the networks give us goofy comedy, wham-bam violence and kinky sex.

The networks know that most normal people don't want to listen to somebody else moan (unless it has to do with sex).

Be honest: If you have a neighbor, a co-worker, even a friend or relative who does nothing but moan, moan, moan, you will hide from that person.

So why would you sit in front of your TV for hours of prime time and listen to some politician from Michigan moan that there are people in his town who are out of work? Especially if you are out of work, and have troubles enough of your own without listening to some stranger moan about his.

It's bad enough on television. But being there is even more of a downer.

There are 15,000 news people at the convention. And most of them will spend the week walking around with glazed eyes and sad expressions.

They'll ask each other: "Anything going on?"

"Jackson is holding a press conference in a few minutes."

"Yes, he will just moan. Brown is holding one, too."

"He will just moan, too. Anything else?"

"Tsongas is having one later."

"He will moan, too, but he will mumble when he moans, so we won't be sure what he's moaning about."

"This is really terrible."

"Stop moaning, I can't stand it."

Of course, if you are the sort of sick person who likes listening to moaners -- I think they're called moanamaniacs -- you can get your fill from C-SPAN, which will bring every moan, groan, gripe and grievance into your home, unfiltered and uncut.

But be careful. Watch it in small doses only. After an hour, you'll be moaning worse than they are.

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