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Election 2000
Republican National Convention
Scott Simon's Convention Notebook

Weekened Edition Saturday host Scott Simon is sharing his thoughts with this special online column.


Convention Dispatch
by Scott Simon

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Philadelphia, August 2 -- Politics is art, not science. Real life can intrude on carefully concocted plans, explode expectations, and dash assumptions.

I've been reminded of this over the last few nights when I catch an occasional glimpse of the special section of seats in the convention hall reserved for some especially beloved Republicans who have been brought in to be celebrated onscreen, then take a few bows.

George and Barbara Bush, Dick and Lynn Cheney, Gerald and Betty Ford, Colin Powell, Bob and Elizabeth Dole, and Nancy and Maureen Reagan have sat in those seats at different times. It can be fascinating to recollect the scores of ways in which their lives have crossed and connected:

Dick Cheney was President George Bush's Secretary of Defense. He was also President Ford's Chief of Staff. Colin Powell was Mr. Bush's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but also a White House fellow when George Bush was head of the Republican National Committee and Gerald Ford became president. Mr. Ford chose Bob Dole to be his running mate. President Reagan promoted Colin Powell to general. General Powell commanded the troops President Bush sent against Saddam Hussein. There is a human connection between each title.

There was a small, touching moment during last night's tributes to U.S. veterans. Bob Dole, who left Kansas to fight with the fabled First Mountain Division in the hills of Italy, reached out to grasp the hand of George Bush, who left his eastern prep school to enlist in the U.S. Navy. Mr. Dole was wounded and lost the use of his right arm. He battled back from injury and despair to offer his life to public service. Mr. Bush's plane was shot down from the sky -- he was a teenager suddenly swimming for his life through blood and fire. He struggled against loss and fear to give a good part of his life to the business of his country.

Bob Dole and George Bush once ran against each other for president. But last night, they offered an admiration and comfort to one another that perhaps only they could share.

The business of politics tries to insure results. But the collection of luminaries in the box this week has reminded me that politics is real life -- nothing is guaranteed.

Right after I covered the Gulf War in 1991, I went to a Texas Rangers baseball game. Friends brought me down to meet the team's owner, a gregarious man with a famous name who had never held public office. He spoke with pride about his new ballpark, and puckish good humor about making improvident trades. I never considered the possibility that the man I would see nominated for president almost a decade later wouldn't be a champion of the Gulf War, like Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf, or Dick Cheney, but a baseball team owner named George W. Bush.

                        -- Scott Simon



Scott Simon joined NPR in 1977 as chief of its Chicago Bureau. Since then, he has reported from all 50 states, covered presidential campaigns, seven wars, and reported from Central America, Africa, India, the Middle East, and the Caribbean.

From civil wars in Bosnia and El Salvador, to hospital rooms, police stations, and America's backyards, National Public Radio®'s Peabody Award-winning correspondent Scott Simon brings a well-traveled perspective to his role as host of Weekend Edition Saturday.

Simon has a new book, Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan was published in the spring of 2000 by Hyperion.


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