Conventional Kissing
Another Friday with Florence.


EDITOR’S NOTE: It was one of the Great Curmudgeon’s best: her Campaign Diary recapping the goofiness on display at the last Democrat National Convention–from Bubba’s pimp-rolling to Al and Tipper’s lip-locking and all the foolishness in between. We dish it out again–reheated and tasting as just good as when first served in Miss King’s September 25, 2000 entry for “The Misanthrope’s Corner.”

And now that summer is in full swing, and your looking for the company of a good book as you sip your lemonade, we suggest you obtain the faithful collection of each and every one of Miss King’s eviscerating NR columns–namely STET, Damnit, The Misanthrope’s Corner, 1991 to 2002. Fans of the King–and who isn’t?–can order copies of the big, beautiful book (securely!) here.

DAY ONE: Another load of cow flop, another Campaign Diary. My coverage of the Dems’ convention got off to a bad start when I inadvertently missed Hillary’s speech. I say inadvertently because it was Shark Week on the Discovery Channel and I didn’t realize I wasn’t watching her.

I switched back in time to see Bubba’s interminable trek through the bowels of the convention center. Choreographed by Harry Thomason, it was widely interpreted as a “lone gladiator” entering the Colosseum for the last time, or Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig heading stoically for the Yankees locker room, but what it actually suggested should bring Harry Thomason’s career as a choreographer to a rapid and merciful end. Whether subconsciously or deliberately, this touted Friend of Bill was getting even for the ostracism he and his wife suffered after the travel office and haircut episodes of 1993. It requires the brain of a convention delegate to find anything heroic or flattering about this cinder-block hegira. To me it symbolized the instinctive dread of labyrinths that pervades mythology, or the universal nightmare in which we try to reach an unnamed something that keeps getting farther away. A Clintonized interpretation might be the condemned prisoner’s last mile; specifically, the French lady-killer Landru marching to the guillotine. At the very least it suggested JFK’s rake’s progress through the subterranean passageways and boiler rooms of hotels he used for assignations.

DAY TWO: Now we know what happened to the Play-Doh the INS gave Elián González: It turned into supple, flexible, malleable, pokeable, pullable, stretchable Joe Lieberman, the conscience of the Senate. The potter was Maxine Waters, who could make even strong white men weak; give her five minutes alone with Louis XIV and she’d have him saying L’état, c’est vous. It was only to be expected that poor, eager, grateful Joe Lieberman developed spinal deliquescence at the first sign of her displeasure and reshaped himself into the Little Affirmative-Action Engine That Could. It was the greatest proof yet of the power Waters wields. She’s a one-woman shadow government who can issue a call for racial “disturbances” anytime she doesn’t get what she wants. If the convention had run a week longer into August she could have ordered her forces to mount a floor demonstration on St. Bartholomew’s Day.

DAY THREE: If either of the Liebermans says “Only in America” one more time. . . . George Will beat me to the punch when he pointed out that England had a Jewish prime minister 132 years ago, so I am left with pointing out that England’s first Jewish knighthood was bestowed on Sir Solomon Medina by William III in 1699, in gratitude for his financing of the wars won by the Duke of Marlborough. So far as is known, neither Sir Solomon, nor, later on, Baron Nathan Rothschild, screamed “Oh, my God! I don’t believe it!” like a Lotto winner.

DAY FOUR: The Kiss. Polls and pundits are divided on whether it was planned or spontaneous, but the either-or restricts our understanding of what actually happened. Clearly it was both.

It started out scripted. The idea was for Gore to encircle Tipper’s waist and for her to place her hands on his shoulders while they exchanged a quick, sweet peck. This they did, but then something happened, and I know what it was because I wrote the same scene countless times back when I was hacking out paperback Gothics.

The hero of a Gothic is always an emotionally warped squire whose rigidly arranged life is disrupted when he hires a plucky governess intent on uncovering the secret tragedy that has made him so cold. Nothing daunts this girl; she’s game for anything–locked rooms, hidden passageways, bat-infested attics, whatever it takes to solve the riddle of his shrouded past and bring him out of his shell. As she draws closer and closer to the truth, he panics, feeling his defenses crumbling, and decides that sex is the only way to control her. His chance comes when he pulls her out of the abandoned well she has just fallen into. Since his arms are already around her, he suddenly yanks her against him and snarls, “Come here, you little fool!”

The Gore clinch was a classic Gothic kiss, a last-ditch attempt at self-preservation by an aloof man content in his aloofness, asserting that aloofness to the whole world by momentarily cutting off the air of the woman who never stops doing whatever it takes to bring him out of his shell.

Writing Gothics is as bad as watching conventions. I took a course in court transcribing, so I used to write them on the Stenotype machine when drunk and transcribe them when sober. “Come here, you little fool” in Stenotype is: KOPL HER RBGS U HREUTL TPAOL. (That’s faster to take down than it looks.) If you want to bombard Gore campaign headquarters with this coded message, I am powerless to stop you.

Never let it be forgot that every silver lining has a cloud. A noticeably lowering presence at Bathos 2000 was 17-year-old Albert Gore III. It has since come out that he had been arrested for reckless driving and speeding (97 mph), but the look on his face betokened something more than just being grounded.

Nobody can sulk like a teenage boy. That kid was furious and nobody who remembers the ‘92 convention can blame him. That was the year Gore used him to flaunt his paternal sensitivity in a blubbering account of the boy’s brush with death. Next came the ‘96 convention, where Gore used his sister’s cancer to flaunt his fraternal sensitivity, and now at Bathos 2000 he was using the whole family to prove how loosey-goosey he is.

The whole family, that is, except his namesake. He was ostensibly left out of the show to punish him, but it could be that the Gores know he sees through the old man and is hellbent on sabotaging him–hence the merry chase he gave North Carolina’s controlling legal authorities.