Just Like Elephants and Donkeys

From the speakers to the jokes, the two parties' Presidential conventions could hardly have been any different

By Richard S. Dunham

You remember that old book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus? Well, after sitting through the two political parties' national conventions, it's clear that the dichotomy also applies to America's red-state, blue-state political divide. Republicans are from Mars, the red planet named for the mythological warrior. And Democrats really are from Venus, that sensitive blue sphere in the inner reaches of the solar system.

Just how different were the two conventions? Let us count the ways...

• Democrats gave filmmaker-provocateur Michael Moore a standing ovation. Republicans gave him a press pass. After all, he's a member of the liberal media.

• Democrats gave CNN a prime spot on the convention floor as delegates cheered in the background. Republicans stuck CNN in the rafters as hecklers walked by, chanting, "Watch Fox News."

• Democrats chose as a speaker an actress who once played the U.S. Vice-President (Glenn Close). Republicans chose as a speaker an actor who in real life is the governor of Kahl-ee-forn-ya.

• Democrats invited Maria Shriver to sit in the VIP box. Republicans invited Maria Schwarzenegger to sit in the VIP box. Uncle Teddy was not invited.

• Democrats applauded First Ladies who are opinionated and sassy. Republicans applauded First Ladies who are demure and supportive.

• Republicans used code words to tell their delegates that they want to outlaw abortion. Democrats used code words to tell their delegates that they want to outlaw unrestricted ownership and use of guns.

• Democrats spell global leadership "U.N." Republicans spell global leadership "U.S."

• Republicans blame lawyers and liberals for society's ills. Democrats blame corporations and conservatives.

• Republicans had actors and public-relations people pretending to be reporters, toting fake news microphones on their convention floor. Democrats had liberals pretending to be moderates on their convention floor.

• Democrats highlighted black Senate candidates who are likely to win, like Barack Obama in Illinois. Republicans highlighted black candidates for Congress who seem certain to lose.

• The Republican idea of a funny joke: Band-aids in the shape of a purple heart to ridicule John Kerry's war wounds. The Democratic idea of a funny joke: A button featuring a photo of President Bush with Pope John Paul II. "Abomination," the Pope says. To which Bush responds: "I thought you said, 'Bomb a nation.'"

• Republicans boycott the Off-Broadway musical, Naked Boys Singing. Democrats boycott Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ.

• Democrats can't figure out how to make the balloons drop on time. Republicans dropped the balloons as if they were bombs.

• The two parties did agree on one thing: The balloons at both conventions were red, white, and blue.

Dunham is BusinessWeek's Washington-based chief political correspondent. Follow his views in Washington Watch, only on BusinessWeek Online

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