LOS ANGELES - There ARE differences between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans can start and stop their conventions on time. Democrats let President Clinton compete with Jay Leno and nominate their man at midnight.
Republicans have toe-tapping soft rock and country music blast through their convention hall to relieve the stress of too many words. Democrats don't dare interrupt their speaker lineups to keep delegates from getting too rowdy and use languid folk music to pacify the faithful. Republicans have no shame when it comes to wearing strange headgear with trunks and large flappy ears. Democrats content themselves by waving signs and little flags.
Republicans let the Philadelphia police use their own judgment about when to club demonstrators, and no blood was spilled. Democrats let Los Angeles police use their own judgment about when to club demonstrators, with delegates and journalists alike flying about like bathtub toys.
Republicans put African-Americans, Hispanics, women, Asian-Americans and anyone else who is not a white male on the stage, but not in the audience. Democrats have them in the audience and on the stage and in the aisles and outside waiting to get in and inside waiting to get out.
Republicans let one gay man speak from the podium, but keep their heads bowed praying for his soul and humming so they can't hear his words. Democrats put gay rights in their platform and send out runners to ask, "Are you gay? Do you want to talk about it on TV at our convention?"
Republicans attract such celebrities as Bo Derek, Charlton Heston, and The Rock. Democrats attract Jimmy Smits, Tommy Lee Jones, and Cindy Crawford.
Republicans permit no jokes at their convention to avoid alienating anyone. Democrats let their vice presidential candidate start off his acceptance speech telling a Jewish mother-in-law joke.
Republicans tell their candidate, George W. Bush, not to smirk or smile or laugh or giggle or wiggle or grin or guffaw or chuckle during his speech; he doesn't, and it's judged a boffo success.
Democrats advise their candidate, Al Gore, to smirk, smile, giggle. wiggle, grin, guffaw and chuckle. He moves, using human-like hand motions, hugging his daughter, and delegates are delighted.
Republicans promised they would not attack Mr. Gore, but on the day Mr. Gore gave his big speech, they applauded a news leak that an independent counsel had impaneled a new grand jury to look once again into the scandal involving Monica Lewinsky and the president. Ouch.
Democrats said they would go after Mr. Bush with "the truth'' and on the day Mr. Bush gave his big speech, Democrats tried to grab the headlines by hinting Mr. Gore had a "short list'' of six people on his running-mate list. Duh.
Republicans say they want change, and then they devoted their entire convention in reverence of 539 tired old cliches, mostly borrowed from the Democrats, instead of developing their own new cliches.
Republicans are known for having more rich people than poor people as members of their party. To show they strive to be egalitarian, they put the press in tents, restricted the number of private planes, and held their convention in the summer when no mink coats would be necessary.
Democrats say they are the party of the working-class family and then held their convention in one of the world's most expensive cities, land of $25 cab rides and $10 hamburgers, during a work week.
Republicans say they hate the press but provided journalists with free tote bags with free painkillers and free notebooks inside them.
Democrats say they love the press and provided free tote bags with free literature inside. Then they made journalists walk for 2.4 miles in hot sun and 90-degree weather carrying heavy gear as well as the tote bags so they would get dehydrated and have to go to the hospital.
Republicans want to tell people their candidate is not just likable, but smart. Democrats want to tell people their candidate is not just smart, but likeable. As Joe "just a regular Joe" Lieberman says, "Is America a great country, or what?"
Ann McFeatters is chief of The Blade's national bureau.