As the Democrats gear up to begin their presidential nominating convention in Charlotte, it probably wouldn't hurt to learn a few lessons from the Republicans' recently concluded soiree here in Tampa.
Memo to the Democratic National Committee: Do not under any circumstance dig up a doddering old movie star to make a "surprise" appearance, unless you are trying to pander to the Planet Zippity-Doo-Dah vote.
Just how embarrassing was Clint Eastwood's effort to channel Jimmy Stewart in Harvey? The stiffer-than-Mitt-Romney former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty came off as Robin Williams by comparison.
It was not a sterling idea to have the octogenarian Dirty Harry of Medicare stumbling through his patter while talking to an imaginary friend moments before Romney was to deliver the crowning speech.
The Republicans wanted the next day's water cooler chatter to be about Romney's vision for the country. Instead they got wonderment over why no one came on stage to retrieve Eastwood, put a shawl around his shoulders and deftly guide him away for some warm milk.
Jeepers, Eastwood's co-star Clyde the orangutan in Every Which Way But Loose was more coherent.
The lesson for the Democrats? If by chance comedian Jerry Lewis offers to appear on the dais this week: a) politely decline, and b) run away! The last thing the Obama camp needs is the Nutty Professor showing up with a cocktail glass wedged into his mouth while muttering to a make-believe "pretty lady."
And especially after the weather events in Tampa, it's okay for the Democrats to acknowledge that there may actually be something to this global warming stuff.
The GOP had to be plenty annoyed when they lost a full day of convention activities after relying on forecasters' predictions that Tampa could be in the cross-hairs of Hurricane Isaac. Alas, Isaac wobbled just enough to the west to spare Tampa Bay, thus giving Republicans the perfect excuse to begin ignoring science again.
Convention weeks are filled with hoity-toity private parties and special events for each state delegation. Delegates, after all, pay their own way to these things and want their money's worth of food and drink they already shelled out big bucks to enjoy. Fair enough.
But if Tampa is any guide, Charlotte's downtown merchants might discover their shops and restaurants could be virtually empty during convention week. If the Democrats want to demonstrate they are more pro-small business than the Republicans, who spent their time in Tampa praising the little guy as the backbone of the American economy while barely venturing into downtown, they'll make sure the delegates in Charlotte patronize the city's commercial center.
And if Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and police Chief Rodney Monroe don't send Tampa police Chief Jane Castor a first-class plane ticket and a provide her with a presidential suite to advise them on crowd control, they are — in a word — nuts.
No doubt, Charlotte has prepared for an influx of shower-challenged protesters for the week. And no doubt the presence of Charlotte law enforcement officials in Tampa last week to observe the handling of demonstrators was exceedingly helpful in getting ready for their own convention.
But it never hurts to have the benefit of experience that Castor would bring from actually overseeing crowd control during the Tampa convention. Arizona's fatuous Sheriff Joe Arpaio loves to indulge in his self-coronation as America's top cop. Piffle. That title more properly rests with Castor and her team, who set the gold standard in working with disparate groups of demonstrators. The hapless, vindictive Arpaio isn't worthy to carry Castor's handcuffs.
Good luck, Charlotte. You seem pretty well organized to handle the endless days and nights of festivities. But be sure to have lots of heavily armed police types around, if for no other reason than to make sure Clint Eastwood doesn't get anywhere near the convention site.