Convention Wisdom

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I learned the rules of Republican conventions and how the GOP works at an early age.

In 1960, I was at the Chicago Stockyards for the GOP convention that was doomed to give Vice-President Nixon its presidential nomination. I was demonstrating outside the hall (my sign read, “Out the Door With Eleanor” — the pest was still with us) when I bumped into a friend who had an extra floor pass (His dad was the National Committeeman from Kansas, Ike’s home state — and he had a private railroad car to prove it). So in I went.

Just outside the convention floor in a large, dimly-lit anteroom I encountered about 100 “Nixon Girls” gathered in four lines, ready to go into the “floor demonstration” — the pomp, circumstance, bands and balloons that were customary after the candidate’s nomination was put forward. They were wearing matching black cocktail dresses.

Well, I went up to one of them and said (in my most persuasive 13-year-old voice), “You CAN’T be for Nixon, he doesn’t stand for anything!”

She smiled and turned over the shoulder-strap of her dress to show me her “Kennedy for President” button hidden there.

“I’m getting’ paid for this, honey,” she smiled.

And so is everybody else. And there you have the GOP’s Prime Mandate, the only principle in the Republican Party Platform that remains unchanged and unchallenged to this day.

8:45 am on August 28, 2012