Opinion column: Remembering the glory days

Illustration Illustration

Illustration Illustration

By Steve Kline

You’ve probably had this conversation with high school has-been athletes – especially those from smaller towns. You’re in your hometown for a week sitting at a bar or park bench next to someone you kinda knew back in the day, listening to him or her rehash the glory days of high school sports.

“Man, I had so many plans for that team. I just wish I could’a stuck around – we would have won State for sure.”

You’re just thinking: This poor, sad bastard. Not only are you living in the past, but you’re living in a past that really had nothing to do with you. Being a sixth-string quarterback while watching the crowd rally around your team doesn’t mean you did anything. The team started to suck once you actually started to play for them, remember?

Which brings us to tonight’s milking of glory days, the Republican National Convention in New York City. Everyone play Republican bingo and mark your cards when “terror,” “terrorism,” “al-Qaida,” “Saddam,” and “God” are mentioned – or make your own game, it’s fun. If “Iraq” comes up within 30 seconds of “9/11” you get double points.

Prediction: The Terror-O-Meter isn’t going to raise until after the convention.

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Holding the convention in New York is the Bush campaign’s hope to remind people that when fecal matter started to hit the fan, Bush’s approval ratings were way up. It was the glory days of this administration, when they could bomb who they wanted and pass any piece of legislation with little to no objection. Remember the days when you could say “Tax cuts against al-Qaida” with a straight face?

Honestly, this convention was planned so haphazardly that I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the brainchild of a Democrat mole in Republican ranks.

For starters, let’s take a look at the location: Madison Square Garden, which is just a few blocks from Ground Zero. What a way to get swing voters; this convention is held near the area where the largest intelligence error in the history of the United States occurred, killing thousands of civilians! Vote for me, I’ll ignore the warnings and capitalize on my shortcomings in the future.

Remember – showing coffins for a campaign ad: Good. Showing coffins in major media illustrating how lives were lost in a war triggered by more faulty intelligence: Bad.

New York City’s residents are overwhelmingly anti-Bush, and the result is more people are protesting the convention than attending it. As I write this, more than 300 protesters have been arrested, and the main event hasn’t even started yet. Massive civil disobedience is planned for the convention’s last day, which is sure to be jam-packed with zany tear gas bloopers and Fox News reporting, “Heavily-armed terrorist protesters hate freedom.”

The speakers at the convention also might hurt the campaign more than help.

Urbana’s own Erika Harold will give a speech on Tuesday. The former Miss America has been given this honor based upon her bachelor’s degree in political science, not because she looks good in a bathing suit. Right? Right!

Erika Harold’s speech coincides with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s speech. We’re listening to these individuals and apparently electing them based more on celebrity than merit.

I know Dick Cheney is supposed to speak, being vice president and all, but it still would be a good idea to whisk him off to another undisclosed location. Cheney simply scares people and not in that good manipulate-the-public way. He also does not look good in a bathing suit.

Quick digression: Bush Sr. picked Dan Quayle as vice president and Bush Jr. picks Dick Cheney. I think they’ve got a good idea here: Nobody really votes based on the vice president, so why don’t we pick one that’ll ward off assassinations? Hey there, Oswald, you wanna take a shot at me? Look who you’re putting in my place.

So what we’re looking at is three days full of fluff, protest and hopeful attempts to get the public to remember when they liked the current administration for a week or so. Rehash your glory days of giving inspirational speeches, Mr. Bush, because your current “we’re turning a corner” sound bite isn’t helping.

Steve Kline is a senior in journalism. His column runs Mondays. He can be reached at [email protected].