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Hartselle Enquirer

Conventions don't offer much surprise

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–Old timers like me are frequently wont to say that nothing is good as it used to be….be it cars, movies, music, what-have-you–and after yawning my way through the TV coverage of the Democratic National Convention (and the GOP show will be just as bad), I must say that those events sure ain't as good as they used to be.
Gone is the suspense of conventions of the past where you often times didn't know until the roll call of the states who would be the nominee for President and Vice President…gone is the politicking, the wheeling and dealing, that went on leading up to the vote.
My most vivid memory of a convention roll call was at the 1956 Democratic National Convention. Up for grabs was the vice presidential nomination and a nip and tuck fight raged between Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee and Sen. John Kennedy of Massachusetts to be on the ticket with Adlai Stevenson.
On the first roll call the Alabama delegation cast a split vote between the two, but on the second roll call the state cast all its votes for Kefauver, which pushed him over the top and gave him the nomination.
Kennedy told me in an interview a couple of years later he would always be grateful to the Alabama delegation for not voting for him on the second roll call. Had he won the veep nomination but lost the election in November…which is what happened…he probably would not have been considered for the Presidential nomination in 1960.
But back to last week's show. It was a four-day political commercial…packaged and scripted just like a Viagra commercial. The most exciting developments came when a speaker dared to vary even slightly from his or her script.
There is another significant difference at these conventions now…it is the make-up of the Alabama delegations.
Alabama had 62 delegates in Boston…almost half were AEA members, and almost half were blacks. That is a reasonably accurate portrait of the make-up of the National Democratic Party in Alabama.
In local elections most Alabamians still vote for Democrats…most city and county officials in this state are Democrats. But in presidential elections this is by no means the case. You know the numbers. Only once since 1960 has Alabama's electoral votes been cast for a Democratic presidential nominee–Jimmy Carter in 1976.
And while the Alabama delegates in Boston were talking confidently about carrying Alabama in November, the very same AEA which so dominated the state delegation released a poll showing Bush leading Kerry by an almost embarrassing 56-34 percent margin in this state.
For whatever reason not many like to point this out, but the sobering fact is that like it or not, when you consider that blacks make up from 20 to 25 per cent of the votes cast in Alabama, white national Democrats in Alabama are an endangered species.
Despite the cloud of legal problems hovering over his head, Siegelman continued to insist he would be cleared of all charges of wrong-doing, he reiterated his stand that Republican trickery had led to his defeat in the 2002 gubernatorial election, and he left little doubt that he would run for the office again in 2006,

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