Like Elvis and Duke, GOP was everywhere

August 18, 1996|By COMMANDER COCONUT

AS I WAS CHANNEL surfing last week, it seemed to me there were more hair-helmet women and well-fed white men on television than usual - not to mention infomercials.

First, I thought that gobs of channels had been taken over by those religion begging shows with phone numbers at the bottom of the screen. Every one of those religion-show hosts has bad and/or big hair, after all. But when there weren't phone numbers on the screen, I remembered that the Republicans, those old inclusioneers, were convening in San Diego.

Why, I bet if Elvis hadn't died 19 years ago, he would have been there taking up a couple of seats. (Oh, no, here come the letters; they still write when Elvis' weight is mentioned, even though he is presumably dead and presumably weightless by now.)

We'll get back to the entertaining goings-on in San Diego later, but we have another dead-Republican fish to fry first.

John Wayne.

The Duke hasn't been dead as long as Elvis. He died in 1979, and I remember being sad about it because he physically reminded me of my dad - and, well, because he was so heroic in films, so American.

And still is.

There is a fascinating story, "John Wayne's Body," in The New Yorker, and writer Garry Wills tries to reason out why Wayne is still so mythic, so admired that he still turns up on favorite movie star polls 17 years after his death. Not only does he turn up on those lists, he is No. 1.

Amazing.

Or maybe not that amazing considering that, with TV and video, it is not so unusual that John Wayne is still the favorite movie star. His movies are available everywhere.

What it all means is that Wayne, especially through his best Westerns, embodied America as frontier.

Wills discusses Wayne's influence on the Republican version of the American dream, his acting (with interesting discussions of his physicality and his choice of roles), his masculinity, his motion.

"How an actor moves," Wills writes, "is obviously important in what are, after all, motion pictures, but surprisingly little criticism has focused on this essential aspect of performance."

Also, from Wills: "The strength of Wayne was that he embodied our deepest myth - that of the frontier. His weakness was that it was only a myth."

You mean we have been pursuing just a myth all these years?

Did anyone tell the Republicans?

Good grief.

Meanwhile, I am not being partisan here because the Democratic convention is bound to be just as goofy, just as phony and just as ripe for spoofing on Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect."

All these people lie - or, at the least, delude themselves.

What a crowd these politicians are.

My.

The people I would really like to vote for wouldn't be caught dead running - and that is bad for the country. In fact, it explains a lot of what's wrong with it government-wise. Anyone with a clue wouldn't want to hang out with the clueless sycophants and lackeys-to-the-lobbyists these politicians have become.

Let's seriously consider doing away with these conventions, shall we? They aren't newsworthy anymore and mean little in this era of stronger primaries. Then, too, both parties could give all the money they spend on the conventions to the poor people they're all taking advantage of.

Scenes from the convention and more:

* Gobs of people with camcorders were filming anything that moved. Wouldn't you hate having to sit through those home movies?

* I had never heard candidate Bob Dole's theme song before, but it was pretty disconcerting Tuesday night at convention's end to hear a band launch into "Soul Man" with the title "Dole Man." For Pete's sake.

* C-SPAN recently ran an interview with David and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, and I was amazed how much David sounds like his late father-in-law and how sort of sad Julie seems. The couple said their three kids aren't into politics, but more into the arts and sports.

* "Politically Incorrect," which traveled to San Diego for the convention, was devastatingly funny last week, with Bill Maher's guests including Vicki Lawrence, Oliver North, Jerry Falwell, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Rep. Susan Molinari and Harry Shearer. Then there were the funny remotes with Chris Rock, much funnier than he ever was on "Saturday Night Live," and the bizarre "Strange Bedfellows" segments in which Al Franken and Arianna Huffington are actually in a bed together, snipping away like two fishwives. Great show this; I hope it doesn't get watered down when it moves from Comedy Central to ABC.

Commander Coconut is a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel.

Pub Date: 8/18/96

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